I’ll never forget the panic that engulfed me - just days after starting work as a secondary school teacher - when one of my Year 8 pupils, suddenly climbed out of the classroom window mid-lesson, and scarpered off across the field.

Or the time I asked a teenage girl to take off her coat in class only to be met with a volley of expletives in response.

And imagine my shock when I discovered the 15 year-old lad who had mysteriously disappeared from my GCSE class had in fact been convicted of attempted murder.

Every school has its notorious kids. These are the children who are sometimes branded as ‘bad’ or ‘unreachable’. They are ‘spoiling it for the rest’. Permanent exclusion seems too good for them.

Over the years, I learned more effective ways to work with these challenging youngsters but, really, I was skating on thin ice, maintaining the classroom equilibrium with little more than the force of my personality. It wasn’t until I became a foster carer and then adoptive parent that I began to understand the powerful negative forces that shape the development of some children.

At three years old, Melissa* had been so severely deprived of food that she would eat scraps from our kitchen bin. Four-year-old Mikey would smear his faeces all over his bedroom walls. Eight-month-old Jade had been left alone so often that she was completely unresponsive and never smiled or cried. And then there was Jack who, at five years old, picked up a 15in TV to throw at me. Remember that name – we’ll be returning to him later.

It’s the traumatic early experiences of these children that is the driving force behind my passion to ensure that their teachers have more in their toolkit than I ever did. It is this passion that led me to Adoption UK, and to the publication of the ‘Top of the Class’ report.

All over the UK, tens of thousands of children are walking into their classrooms carrying an invisible backpack of the legacy of adverse childhood experiences which impacts on their ability to learn, and to behave like other children. These children deserve an equal chance in school, and their teachers deserve the support, training and resources they need to make sure that happens.

Yet, when we asked teachers about their experiences, we found that nearly 60 percent of them had received no training on the impact of trauma in their schools in the past three years. Since September, every school in England has had to have a designated teacher for previously looked after children.

Almost 80 percent of designated teachers who responded to our survey told us that they had been given no extra funding or time to carry out that role.

Care experienced children are more likely to be excluded and to leave school with no qualifications. By the age of 21, four in ten care leavers are not in education, employment or training. It is not reasonable to think that all of these children are simply ‘bad’ or lack ability.

So we have to ask, where do these children figure in the judgements that are made about school performance? In a culture so focused on league tables and exam results, what incentive is there for a head teacher to invest in children whose behaviour may be challenging and unpredictable, and whose academic progress may be elusive? No wonder there has been an epidemic of off-rolling.

We know that there are schools across the UK doing outstanding work with children who have had appalling life experiences. The six expert contributors to our ‘Top of the Class’ report show us the difference that can be made if there is a will, from a leading light in a multi-academy trust, to the head teacher of a Scottish primary school.

Yet there are still too many employed in the education sector who still believe the legacy of trauma is not ‘their problem’ and that nothing can be done. I dispute that and the experts who contributed to ‘Top of the Class’ dispute that. Thousands of adoptive parents, foster carers and guardians dispute that, knowing that the partnership of a trauma-informed school can transform the life chances of children who have had the worst possible start.

The most common argument against a truly inclusive education system which caters for the most vulnerable pupils is ‘What about the other 29 pupils in the class?’ But we’re not suggesting the other 29 pupils should be ignored for the sake of one pupil – rather schools should cater for the many and the few.

We’re calling for a system which resources schools to go the extra mile for children who need it and recognises them when they succeed. Teachers would have the training and support they need to get the best out of every student and, where children cannot manage in a mainstream school, pathways to superb alternatives would be easily accessible.

In a truly inclusive system, no school would be called outstanding, unless it was outstanding for all.

Remember Jack who attempted to throw a TV at me? Well three years on Jack is now my adopted son, and we refuse to define Jack by the horrific trauma he experienced as a young child.

Incidents of aggression from Jack have considerably reduced over the last couple of years and thankfully he’d now much rather watch TV rather than throw it at me.

 (* All children’s names have been changed)