As of late last week, Adoption UK has a clean sweep of ministers to work with at the Department for Education in Westminster. These three people have the power to make decisions about the policies that have a huge effect on the lives of the adoption community in England.  

Nadhim Zahawi is the new Secretary of State for Education, running the Department for Education, which governs adoption policy, amongst many other things – including, of course, education. We have worked with Mr Zahawi before, when he was Children’s Minister.  

Robin Walker has taken over as Minister for School Standards, after Nick Gibb came to the end of nearly a decade in the job. In our experience school is the number one concern for adoptive families, so we’ll be seeking an early conversation with Mr Walker.  

Will Quince is our new Minister for Children and Families – a move from the Department for Work and Pensions, where he worked on welfare and benefits. We had a good working relationship with his predecessor, Vicky Ford, and we’re obviously hoping Mr Quince will be equally attuned to the issues we’re concerned about.  

All three are taking on their jobs just weeks before the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, during which departmental budgets will be set.  

It’s always jarring to have to re-build political relationships. It takes time to re-establish your credibility, and to re-state the case for your issues to emerge from the towering in-trays these ministers will be facing. But it’s also a real opportunity.  

We’ve already written to all three of them, setting out our priorities and asking for meetings. We have emphasised long term support for every adoptive family, improving the way schools support children who have experienced trauma, and improving diagnosis and support for people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).  

What I want to see from the Secretary of State is that he is listening carefully to educators, parents, carers and children, and that he is committed to giving all children an equal chance. Our experience of him as Children’s Minister was that he was genuinely interested in families, and as the child of refugees, he has his own insights the most vulnerable people in society. 

The previous incumbent in the role of Minister for School Standards was very focussed on the race to the academic top, and championed traditional discipline, silent corridors and head teachers empowered to exclude. In our experience, all pupils thrive in schools that believe in behaviour as communication, prioritise relationships and have outstanding results with those who struggle most.  

The Children’s Minister is most directly responsible for adoption. His predecessor oversaw the launch of an ambitious National Adoption Strategy, which says many of the right things but is light on details about delivery. He is also inheriting the Adoption Support Fund and the ongoing independent review of Children’s Social Care. He has some big opportunities to really change things for the better for tens of thousands of people.   

If I happened to be in a lift with the three of them, here’s what I’d say:  

Most adopters would encourage other to adopt, but most of them also say they face a constant struggle for support – including at school. They are parenting some of England’s most vulnerable children and we owe all of them excellent, proactive help, wherever they happen to live.   

Sue Armstrong Brown, Chief Executive.  

Read our letters here