Last October, on the back of the marvellous work by @garethmarr as detailed in his blog , I tweeted my Local Authority and asked if they would do something about helping Adopted Children in schools. Surprisingly, I got a response asking me to come along and see what the Virtual Head was doing. Sounds great, although slightly puzzling because I hadn’t heard of anything happening.
The meeting didn’t get fixed for ages but I remained hopeful and eventually met in February 2015 for the first meeting. I went along with a fellow adopter from our local support group and there was the Virtual Head, Director of Children’s Services and the Head of Adoption Support too.
Reason for Meeting
I positioned my reason for asking to meet. Explaining that at our support group, every time we meet there are school issues raised, that individual adopters are going into schools to teach and train the staff, which works quite well, providing the adopter has enough knowledge, feels comfortable doing that and that school will allow us in! I asked explained that we then have to continue to go in year on year to update, starts again with next member of staff, or whatever. Is also expressed how difficult it is do this when the child goes to secondary schools (as I have experienced) because there are so many teachers and members of staff and in any event, the schools are reluctant to let you in.
I mentioned Gareth’s success in his LA and I asked if it was possible for this LA to work with us to look at using training and pupil premium money to cascade down something more helpful at has a longer term impact. I also highlighted (as we all know) that this will have a positive impact on our children in the school. I gave the usual Pupil Premium spiel, that the government recognises these children need additional help etc etc.
There was some discussion about how difficult it was to identify adopters because our LA do not place within the authority. I asked them to use the school census to begin to identify, to also use their adopter records along with records that could potentially be found from the support groups. There was also a suggestion about promoting things via Twitter and other places to encourage adopters to get in touch. (Tick, one hurdle dealt with).
The Initial Outcome
By the end of that meeting, they were going to take it forward and agreed to do a few things:
- Look at gathering information about adopters,
- Look at the available funding from pupil premium
- Look at some sort of central training across the authority
- Get message out to Head Teachers
We asked to meet again in a couple of months to review the situation. It was step in the right direction, yet I wasn’t about to start singing and dancing about it yet!
The Follow Up
We met again in middle of April and I wasn’t feeling that hopeful. My contacts in schools had not particularly heard anything and we had not seen any information about contacting adopters. However, it was better than I thought!
They had done quite a bit of work and
- Have been in touch with other nearby Local Authorities to see what they are doing and share information
- They have identified how many adopted children there are in each school.
- Looked at some case studies (in addition to the ones recently released by BAAF).
- Looked at what training was available
- Looked at providing information to schools.
By the end of this meeting there is
- Identify an adoption lead in each school (probably the one responsible for Looked After Children, as it would make sense to extend their role)
- Provide training to schools and the Adoption Support Team. This is looking at providing training in schools, rather than having staff go outside of school and outside working hours (as I had said that relies on them being willing to that).
- Raise the profile of how staff talk to children has a huge impact
- Explain how the usual shame-based sanctions are so detrimental.
- Brief all Head Teachers and Governors at the next LA briefing session
- Put together a “working party” to develop an information booklet of guidance to schools where my fellow adopter and I will be part of this, along with (a very good) Ed Psych and others.
- Extend PEP (Personal Education Plans) to all children which will be reviewed termly.
- Have Pupil Passports for all adopted children
- The Director of Children’s Services is also going to come along to a meeting of the local Adoption Support Group!