As the COO of TLC LIVE, I recently attended the NAVSH annual conference (National Association of Virtual School Heads) and came away feeling incredibly positive about the event. Despite being a small event in terms of delegates (with around 250 attending), it was great to catch up with representatives from many of the 150 Virtual Schools in England as well as representatives from further afield. While we already knew many of the attendees, it was a fantastic opportunity to network, meet new contacts, and showcase our services.

The conference featured numerous keynote speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds, including government representatives, NGO leaders, constituent MPs and thought leaders in the online tutoring space. Some notable speakers at this year’s event included Lemn Sissay, Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England and Leslee Udwin from the NGO Think Equal.

Claire Coutinho, MP for Surrey East and Minister for Children also hosted a Q&A session.

One of the key trends we identified at NAVSH was the increasing demand for ESoL (English as a Second Language) tutoring for schools. Many Virtual Schools reported having a high number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) students. We also noticed a growing interest in vocational skills, functional skills, and ASDAN, with Virtual Schools excited about the announcement that post-16 looked after children would now receive pupil premium funding from April 2023.

It was also heartening to receive positive feedback from attendees who were already using our online tutoring services, and to connect with new Virtual Schools interested in our ESoL offering. With the increases in unaccompanied asylum seekers arriving in the UK, many Virtual Schools are keen to provide these students with educational opportunities but struggle to find places for them in colleges due to language barriers.

Lastly, it was a great opportunity to speak attendees about the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) where there is still a lack of clarity on how this money can be used. Many Virtual Schools were unsure how to use the funding allocated by the programme and how it differs from other funding pots available to them.

In summary, NAVSH was a wonderful event for us. We met with many Virtual Schools and identified new trends, which will help us tailor our services to meet their needs. We look forward to attending again in the future.

Written by Josh Blackburn, COO at TLC LIVE