North Tyneside Virtual Schools head awarded MBE for her work with kids in care

Virtual Schools’ head Jane Pickthall has been awarded an MBE in The Queens New Years Honours list for her work with children in care.

Pickthall heads The Virtual School which is a term used by North Tyneside Council to monitor all children in care.

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The team offer virtual support for schools across North Tyneside.

The Virtual School includes teachers, nurses, counsellors, physiologists and occupational therapists so the team can cover every aspect of a child’s school life.

Pickthall paid tribute to everyone else she works with, having been awarded her MBE.

She said: “The MBE is really for the children I work with more than anything and the families, the foster carers and all the school staff.”

Pickthall was given the role of Virtual School lead around 18 years ago and she has had a huge impact on children in care.

During the pandemic she continued her work, ensuring that The Virtual School responded quickly to the impact of lockdown on those in care.

NE Youth supports young people across the region and they have also recognised that there needs to be more support for children in schools.

They have a youth worker that attends schools across the North East to help staff support the children that need it most.

Jon Niblo, CEO of NE Youth, spoke more about why it is important to have that extra support. He said: “We have to understand that some young people have had a difficult start and they will need particular support and different opportunities at different times in their lives.”

Pikthall started her career as an English teacher and said that she saw first hand the impact that being in care had on children. This then led to her working towards helping children more.

Her MBE was awarded to her for the difference she has made to the lives of children in care.

She said she is going to continue that work with The Virtual School alongside a huge range of other roles she has undertaken within North Tyneside Council. This includes helping with children’s mental health and emotional well-being as well as giving more support to children in schools.