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CLS works with City of London Virtual School

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

We are delighted to bring you news of the work that CLS is doing with the City of London Virtual School.

Like all local authorities across the country, the City of London Corporation has young people in their care. Usually, this means young people who have been taken away from their parents because they are not able to look after them properly or keep them safe. Every local authority has a ‘Virtual School’ team that works with schools and social workers and carers to ensure these young people get the best educational outcomes possible. One of the things that make the City of London Corporation unique is that almost all these young people are unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugees - they have not been taken away from their parents, rather, in many cases, their parents have found money to pay traffickers to send them to the UK. The young people arrive in the UK, often in Kent or in London having spent a long period on the road. They tend to speak little or no English. The City of London Corporation ‘cohort’ come from countries such as Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria. Some will have seen family members murdered, jailed or tortured. All will have suffered some form of trauma and loss.

In the City of London, a tuition class has been set-up at the Golden Lane community centre near the Barbican. The cohort have ESOL (English as a second or other language) lessons on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 1pm. When they are ready, they are supported in making applications for courses at the local colleges where they live. They tend to be aged between 14 and 18.

To enhance their learning experience a group from the Virtual School have been visiting City of London School every week for lunch, sport, paired reading and enrichment sessions. A significant number of boys in the Junior Sixth Form have volunteered to participate in this programme and play an extensive role in hosting, supporting and planning activities for our visitors.

As far, enrichment sessions have included Art, Drama, Science and in the weeks to follow Music and Design Technology are planned. We have also sought to take advantage of our location and this week they visited the Tate Modern. Excitingly, the work produced by boys from the Virtual School will form part of the Art Department’s Summer Exhibition. The project will conclude with a ‘celebration event’, offering an opportunity for all participants to reflect on their experiences. The project is proving to be a great success, largely down to the verve and enthusiasm of the young people involved; but also because of the direction being provided by our fantastic Language Assistants (Alastair Laidlaw, Perrine Moreau, Alfredo Benito Enebral and Lukas Wahden) and the CLS staff who are running various workshops.

Our Head, Alan Bird, comments “it has been wonderful to see the boys from the Virtual School here every week. Despite their experiences and challenging circumstances, their passion for learning and level of engagement is clear to see. Given the ethos of CLS, I was not surprised by either the desire of many of boys in the Sixth Form to be involved or the willingness of our staff to run enrichment sessions. We are very conscious of being a member of the Corporation’s ‘family of schools’ and I look forward to the prospect of this project developing and growing.” The Head of the Virtual School, Andrew Russell, adds “I am delighted by how this project is unfolding. The enthusiasm from boys and staff at City is infectious and the young people at the Virtual School have expressed to me how much they are getting from it; particularly the opportunity to do things that are not possible at Golden Lane. I really am grateful for everything CLS is doing.”


The project is proving to be a great success, largely down to the verve and enthusiasm of the young people involved.
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