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Past Projects and Initiatives

The Boarding Pathfinder Scheme

The Boarding Pathfinder Scheme was a 2 year scheme set up by Government in November 2006 to provide additional choice of educational provision for vulnerable children. It aimed to identify children and young people where a boarding place could prevent the child from being taken into care.

According to an evaluation of the scheme in early 2009 it was concluded that "boarding school can be the right place for some vulnerable children to flourish".

18 Local Authorities, including Dudley Council, took part in the scheme with 22 children in total being placed in boarding schools.

The scheme has now finished.

Extra Tuition

Dudley is one of only four local authorities which were invited to take part in a national pilot scheme to provide additional educational tuition for its looked after children. The initial funding was provided by HSBC Global Educational Trust and was supported by DCSF.

This scheme then became part of the wider Black Country Challenge initiative, supporting looked after pupils in Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sandwell.

The scheme has now ended but many schools continue to offer one to one tuition to Looked after Children. This is often funded by the Pupil Premium for LAC.

  • Between 2007 and 2011, well over 200 tuition pairings were established in Dudley.

  • Termly monitoring consistently provided strong evidence from all stakeholders of the powerful impact of extra tuition in building confidence, improving attainment and raising aspirations among looked after children.

  • The impact of extra tuition upon the SAT and GCSE results of Dudley looked after children was encouraging throughout the duration of the initiative.

  • The 2010 GCSE results showed 32% of Dudley looked after children achieved 5+ A*-C, including English and Mathematics. This places Dudley as the 3rd highest performing local authority in the country in terms of the attainment of their looked after children.

  • 58% of those pupils who achieved 5+ A*-C in 2010, including English and Mathematics, received extra tuition in at least one subject.


Voicebox was a club for kids to have fun, make new friends and have a go at singing, rapping, writing songs and ultimately making a CD. The club ran weekly for young people aged 8-13.

Young people aged 14-19 could help out at VOICE BOX. They worked with professional musicians supporting the children taking part in the project.

Story Sacks

In the past the Virtual School provided a range of story sacks suitable for preschool and primary age children.

A story sack is a large bag which contains a children's book and supporting materials to stimulate reading activities and make shared reading a memorable and enjoyable experience. Each sack contains a variety of articles including soft toys of the book's main characters, and props and scenery that parents and other adults can use with children to bring a book to life.

The Virtual School story sacks were underused so have been passed on to selected Early Years Settings.