“Charities urge better teaching support for children in care ”

By Joe Lepper

| 08 March 2019

A number of leading children's charities are calling on the government to overhaul teaching standards to ensure children with experience of care are better supported in school.

The group, led by Adoption UK, says that children with experience of care need to be recognised by teachers and schools as a distinct group with specific needs, in the same way pupils with disabilities are.

In a letter to schools minister Nick Gibb, the group is calling for amendments to teaching standards, to ensure they take into account the trauma children in care have faced through neglect and abuse.

In addition, the group want to see behaviour policies in schools amended to ensure any sanctions are appropriate for children living with trauma.

The group of charities say that children in care are more likely to have special educational needs, be excluded and leave school without any qualifications.

Research by Adoption UK last year found that three quarters of adopted children in secondary school feel that their teachers do not fully understand them or support their needs.

A survey last year of teachers by Become, another of the charities to sign the letter, found that 87 per cent of teachers had not had training regarding looked-after children before they qualified.

"For our most vulnerable children to have an equal chance in school, it is essential that all teachers have an understanding of how adverse childhood experiences and trauma can impact an individual's development and how this affects their social and emotional wellbeing, and academic attainment," states the letter.

"This understanding is particularly important with regards to looked-after and previously looked-after children. They often have additional needs as a result of the early childhood trauma they have suffered, with approximately two-thirds having been removed from their birth parents as a result of abuse and/or neglect.

"An acknowledgment of their additional needs is already reflected in other educational provisions such as eligibility for priority school admissions and pupil premium funding.

Adoption UK chief executive Sue Armstrong Brown added: "We urgently need the teachers' standards to be revised to reflect children's need to feel safe before they can start to learn."

Other charities to sign the letter include Family Action, PAC-UK, NSPCC, Children England, Home for Good, Inspired Foundation, YoungMinds and the Fostering Network.

It is also signed by psychologist Dr Jennifer Nock, and Daniela Shanley, who owns Beech Lodge School, which supports children with social and emotional problems and those with experience of trauma.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.