Not all children have an equal start in life. But all children deserve an equal chance at school. For tens of thousands of adopted children in the UK, the reality of school is a daily struggle for survival. Many are failing academically as a result. We have identified significant gaps in understanding, empathy and resources that are preventing adopted children from having an equal chance to succeed at school.

79% of children we surveyed feel routinely ‘confused and worried at school’. Almost 70% of parents surveyed feel their child’s progress in learning is affected by problems with their emotional wellbeing in school.

This has to change. With your help, it can.

Sign the petition and find out who else has signed: click here

Read the BRIDGING THE GAP report click here


Read the TOP OF THE CLASS report click here

 

TALK TO YOUR MP/MSP/AM

Find the person who represents you in parliament and write to them, tweet them, or go and meet them. www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/100055.aspx 
http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgFindMember.aspx 

Don’t forget to ask them to sign the petition! And let us know how you get on: [email protected] 

TALK TO YOUR SCHOOL

Did you know your school now has a Designated Teacher for adopted children? Find out more here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-teacher-for-looked-after-children
Go and introduce yourself, and take a copy of the report with you.

GET IN TOUCH

Is your school doing a brilliant job? (Or maybe not so good....) Let us know – our campaign is founded on members’ experiences: [email protected] 

OFSTED has launched a consultation on its new schools inspection framework
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework-draft-for-consultation 
The consultation is open until April 5th. It's really important that OFSTED hear from adoptive parents about what makes a great school for your children. Please respond to the consultation if you can. AUK will be responding, and we've summarised our thoughts in case that's helpful for you. And don't forget about our Top of the Class report, which contains some views from education experts on the same subject. Download the OFSTED schools inspections framework - Guidance notes for consultation

Timpson Exclusions Review Includes Recommendations from Adoption UK Equal Chance Campaign

Edward Timpson’s much-anticipated review of exclusions in school has incorporated two important messages from Adoption UK’s #EqualChance education campaign.

Since the launch of the campaign, Adoption UK has been asking UK governments to collect data on the educational outcomes of previously looked after and adopted children, and ensure that school staff are thoroughly trained on the particular needs of children who have experienced trauma and attachment difficulties.

Drawing on Adoption UK’s Exclusions Report (2017), Timpson has included among his 30 recommendations calls for the DfE to begin publishing data on exclusions for previously looked after children, and also to embed training on attachment, trauma, and speech, language and communication difficulties as part of initial teacher training and the Early Career Framework.

It is extremely encouraging that Edward Timpson has referenced Adoption UK’s extensive research rooted in the experiences of adoptive families, and recognised the importance of both understanding the extent of the challenges faced by some previously looked after and adopted children, and equipping school staff to support them. If the DfE accept these recommendations, it will be a glimmer of hope for many struggling families.

Elsewhere in the report, Timpson does not gloss over the challenges caused by attachment, trauma and loss. Drawing on his own experiences as part of a fostering family, he explains that children who have experienced these things “may respond differently to particular sanctions which, rather than leading to changing their behaviour, can further damage relationships with adults around them.” Further, he highlights the importance of both designated teachers for looked after and previously looked after children, and the new mental health leads in schools, and calls for those undertaking those roles to receive appropriate training and support to help them create an environment where vulnerable children can thrive.

The report also tackles the high exclusion rates of children with recognised special educational needs (SEN) and especially social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, noting that, “children with SEMH type SEN have needs that may cause challenging behaviour: they are not simply badly-behaved children.”

There is concern that a minority of school leaders view permanent exclusion as a trigger to accessing specialist support for children with high level needs and a pre-cursor to assessment for an education, health and care plan. Timpson has also seen evidence of children being excluded because of a failure to understand and identify their needs, and calls for better guidance for schools, and improved information for parents and carers around exclusions.

The report makes it clear that safe and orderly schools are vital for every child to be able to learn, and does not rule out or set a limit on the use of exclusions or other consequences. However, Timpson notes that “in the best schools, these consequences differ based on what each child will understand most and learn from. Consistency and fairness are not at odds with reacting to children differently and as individuals.”

Views gathered from school children support the report’s view that taking into account the underlying causes of poor behaviour in individual cases was not seen as unfair by other students. In fact, “Pupils spoke about the perceived unjust treatment of children who had been excluded when they felt there was more to a situation such as if they were ‘sticking up for themselves’ or ‘had [a] behaving problem’” and were clear that failure to take the full circumstances around a child’s behaviour into account was “unfair”.

As a whole, the report has made it very clear that, while exclusions can be used “as a last resort, when nothing else will do,” there is much variation in their application, and already disadvantaged students are disproportionately affected. Head teachers need to consider a range of ways to address the underlying causes of unwanted behaviour that might be more effective than exclusion but, at the same time, schools alone cannot be expected to manage the complex underlying needs that children may have and will need the support of other agencies to ensure that all children receive the education they are entitled to.

Adoption UK welcomes the recommendations relating to previously looked after children in this report, and calls on the DfE to implement them in full. We know from our own research, and the stories of many adoptive families that adopted children can be particularly vulnerable in school, and we hope that this review can mark the start of real sustained change so that all children have an equal chance in school.