One of Aberdeenshire’s newest head teachers is relishing her role in supporting around 400 care experienced young people in the North-east.
But other than having pupils to nurture and staff to support, that's where any similarity to a 'physical' school role ends for Emma Allen.
The former acting head teacher of Laurencekirk School has recently been appointed as Aberdeenshire's first 'Virtual Head Teacher'
The role has been specifically created to further develop Aberdeenshire Council's corporate parenting plan and improve outcomes for looked after children across the region.
Emma says: "While I might not have physical buildings or fire drills to contend with, I do still have around 400 children spread across Aberdeenshire.
"My focus is on raising attainment and achievement for our care experienced young people. A strong focus will be developing improvements across services and between agencies to ensure we are all working together in the best possible ways to enhance what we can do for them.
"There is a lot of expertise out there and I can help to join the dots. I fully believe in building relationships, strengthening communication and developing collaboration to ensure there is equity in opportunities for our care experienced young people.”
Originally from Kent, Emma has lived and worked in Scotland since 2004. She now lives in Montrose with her husband and four children.
After a short time of supply teaching in Angus, Emma was employed in Aberdeenshire in various schools with roles ranging from class teacher, support for learning to Depute and Acting Head Teacher.
After an interesting and thoroughly-enjoyable educational career to-date, Emma is looking forward to the exciting challenges ahead in her dynamic new role.
She explains: "I am currently working to create a robust tracking system so we can monitor how our young people are getting on at school and use this information to plan and provide support with the aim of improving educational outcomes for our young people.
"I will also be looking at transitions for our young people – within their school, from school to school and beyond, working with external partners to help ensure they find a positive destination in further education, training or employment. For now, it’s a lot of fact finding and it's also vitally important for me to get out there and meet people – to be more visible than virtual.”
To help her develop close links with staff and the young people the council supports, Emma will be visiting schools and other settings where she wants to hear and share success stories as well as focusing on any challenges arising.
Highlighting his support for Emma’s new role, Director of Education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay added: “What a wonderful opportunity Emma has to make a difference to the lives of so many of our young people.
"As corporate parents we are all right behind her – having 400 young people to look out for is no mean feat but this new role is designed to guide all services in knowing what works well and why, how we can work better together and ensure funding for these young people is used in
the best possible ways.”