Pupil premium: virtual school heads’ responsibilities

How virtual school heads should manage the school-age pupil premium and the early years pupil premium for looked-after children.

Applies to England

Virtual school heads (VSHs) are in charge of promoting the educational achievement of all the children looked after by the local authority they work for.

VSHs are responsible for managing pupil premium funding for the children they look after and for allocating it to schools and alternative provision (AP) settings (these are places that provide education for children who can’t go to a mainstream school).

VSHs are also responsible for managing the early years pupil premium (EYPP). They’re in charge of giving the premium to the early years providers that educate looked-after children (children in local-authority care) who are taking up the free early education entitlement for 3- or 4-year-olds.

Early years providers are any organisation that offers education for children aged under 5, including nurseries and childminders.

You can find more information in our:

These guides explain which children who are or have been in local-authority care attract the pupil premium and the EYPP.


As VSH, you’re responsible for making sure your local authority has set up arrangements for allocating pupil premium and EYPP funding to benefit your looked-after children.

You must:

  • identify your local authority’s looked-after children
  • let social care and EYPP colleagues in your local authority know which looked-after children are eligible for the pupil premium and the EYPP
  • make sure that the method you choose for allocating and spending the funding is simple so that your looked-after children can benefit from the funding without delay
  • make sure that schools, AP settings and early years providers spend their pupil premium funding for looked-after children to help meet the needs identified in the children’s personal education plans (PEPs)
  • make sure that any pupil premium funding that you have not passed on to an educational setting or spent by 31 March is returned to DfE
  • be able to demonstrate how the pupil premium and EYPP funding you are managing is raising the achievement of your looked-after children
  • work with each looked-after child’s educational setting to agree how pupil premium funding will be spent to meet the needs identified in the child’s personal education plan (PEP) - this will usually involve working with a school’s designated teacher for looked-after children

How to manage the funding

Distribute the funding to schools or early years settings

In most cases, you’ll give schools and early years providers the pupil premium or EYPP for every looked-after child in their care.

Depending on the circumstances you can either:

  • pass on the full amount of pupil premium or EYPP you receive for a particular child to their school or early years provider (in the case of school-age children, you will get £2,300 per looked-after child every year)
  • pass on less than the full amount
  • pass on more than the full amount

You should make this decision by talking to the child’s school or early years provider. Ask them how they’ll use the funding to meet the child’s needs (which will be described in their PEP).

When to pool the funding

You can pool some pupil premium or EYPP to fund activities that will benefit a group of or all of the authority’s looked-after children.

For example, you could use the premium to fund training for a group of designated teachers across your authority. You could also pool a portion of the premium to run an activity that all the primary-aged looked-after children in your local authority can participate in.

You can also suggest that a school or early years provider pools its pupil premium for looked-after children with the rest of its pupil premium funding. This would be to provide more complete support to all the disadvantaged children in the school or early years setting.

How to spend funding you have not distributed to schools

If you retain any pupil premium or EYPP funding centrally, don’t use the funding for services that your local authority is responsible for funding, such as support for foster carers, school uniforms or transport to get the child to school.

However, you can use pupil premium or EYPP funding to pay for activities that will:

  • improve the way you determine the learning targets in children’s PEPs, so that PEPs are always useful and relevant
  • encourage looked-after children to be more involved and interested in their education

For instance, one local authority is using some pupil premium funding to hire PEP champions. These champions help to make sure PEPs set clear targets so looked-after children get better results in school.

Another VSH is using some pupil premium funding to train school staff in understanding how children build relationships and form attachments with trusted adults, as well as the impact this can have on their learning.



Ofsted’s framework for the inspection of services for looked-after children requires inspectors to ask you for an annual report. Your report should include:

  • details of how you have managed the pupil premium and EYPP for looked-after children
  • evidence of how your spending of the premiums has supported the achievement of the children looked after by your local authority

Local authority

Your accountability to more senior officials in your local authority will depend on the authority’s line management arrangements.

Support and advice

You should ask the finance team in your local authority about the best way of distributing funding to schools and early years providers.

You can also talk to other VSHs to find out how other areas are managing the pupil premium and EYPP for looked-after children.

Updates to this page

Published 9 July 2014
Last updated 19 March 2015 + show all updates
  1. Clarified virtual school heads' responsibilities and how they should manage pupil premium and EYPP funding.

  2. Added information about virtual school heads' responsibilities in relation to the early years pupil premium.

  3. First published.

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