Recent years have seen the extension of many of the education support mechanisms available for children who were previously in care in England and Wales to include children who were adopted from elsewhere in the UK or overseas. 

In England’s schools, internationally adopted children were included in the new duties for designated teachers and virtual schools when those duties were extended to include previously looked after and adopted children in 2018 and, more recently, the School Admissions Code has been updated to allow for priority access to school places for internationally adopted children. 

The lack of access to pupil premium plus (PP+) for children adopted from outside England and Wales now stands, therefore, as an outlier in the suite of support available. However, recent changes to the guidance for completing the October school census suggest that change may at last be on its way. 

The October school census allows schools to enter a specific code to indicate that a child is eligible for pupil premium plus, depending on their legal status (whether adopted, with a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order).  

The guidance for schools on completing the October census was updated in June 2022. For the first time, schools will be able to enter an additional code – ‘O’ for overseas adoption from state care outside of England and Wales.  

However, although schools will now be able to record the eligibility of children adopted internationally, the DfE has stopped short of guaranteeing the PP+ funding, stating that “It is intended these pupils will also attract the pupil premium in 2022 to 2023” [emphasis added]. Meanwhile the conditions of grant document remains essentially unchanged from previous years, stating that eligible children are those who were previously in state care in England or Wales. 

Parents of children adopted from outside England and Wales will need to decide for themselves whether to offer their children’s schools personal and sensitive information without a guarantee that additional funding will be released as a result. For a child to be recorded on the October census as ‘O’, parents will need to satisfy the school both that their child is adopted and that their child was previously in state care. 

Where schools are uncertain as to what documentation may be appropriate, or how documentation can be validated, they are advised to contact their virtual school head for advice. The guide to completing the school census does not offer any further information on the types of documentation that might be appropriate, but the recently updated School Admissions Code was accompanied by additional guidance on verifying the care experience and adoptive status of children adopted from overseas which parents, schools and virtual schools may find helpful. 

For proof of adoption, the guidance accompanying the School Admissions Code states that one of the following will be acceptable: 

  • An adoption order from a UK court 
  • An adoption certificate issued by the Registrar General for England and Wales, National Records Scotland or the General Register Office for Northern Ireland 
  • An Article 23 Certificate (for Hague convention adoptions) 
  • Official documentation from the relevant court or state authorities in the country of adoption confirming that the child was adopted 

In the case of the last option, it may be appropriate to ask the parent for additional information to verify the documentation, which may include a certified document from the embassy of the country of origin, a letter from an adoption agency or a letter from another agency or organisation that has been involved with the child. 

Additionally, parents will need to provide evidence that the child was in state care prior to adoption. State care is defined as being in the care of or accommodated by a public authority, a religious institution, or any other provider whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society. 

Parents may provide a report or a letter, stating that the child was in care, or describing the child’s circumstances prior to adoption. If the child was looked after by private foster parents, evidence will be needed that the fostering arrangement was arranged by or authorised by an official organisation as described above. 

The School Admissions Code guidance suggests the following types of evidence as example: 

  • An Article 16 report (for Hague Convention adoptions) 
  • Information provided by an adoption agency 
  • Information provided by an organisation that provided care for the child (e.g. a charity) 
  • A report or letter from another agency or organisation that has been involved with the child 

The information contained in a child’s historical records is personal and sensitive and must be treated with the utmost care. Parents may wish to redact information which is not relevant to declaring eligibility for the school census and schools and virtual schools should be flexible and pragmatic, offering advice and support to parents about what information is considered appropriate and what can be redacted. 

Adoption UK has long called for the disparity in education support for children adopted internationally to be redressed, and we will continue to do so. This new development looks like a promising step forward, but it only provides the hope of additional funding, not a promise. We will provide further updates if the situation changes. 


 Back to top