Some months ago I raised concerns about children being taken into care having to wait for long periods of time before being offered a school place when their foster placements ws some distance from any previous school. Such treatment of vulnerable children is not a good reflection on our education system. Sadly, this is still happening.
Now the BBC has published the results of a survey by Adoption UK into exclusions of adopted children, another vulnerable group of young people. This report makes for grim reading as well. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41915775
Adoption UK’s research estimates adopted children can be up to 20 times more likely to be permanently excluded than their peers.
The charity surveyed 2,084 of its members and found that of those with adopted children at school in 2015-16, 12% had had a fixed-term and 1.63% a permanent exclusion.
This compares with a rate of 4.29% for fixed and 0.08% for permanent exclusions across all state schools in England.
Adoption UK says that while its survey is indicative rather than scientific, it raises serious concerns.
Their web site is at: https://www.adoptionuk.org/ but I couldn’t find the survey when I looked.
The fact that there is a Minister of State for Children and Families should be a help in terms of government policy, but what is needed is a commitment to take action to support the education of vulnerable children at traumatic stages in their lives and a recognition that the effects can be long-lasting.
The dual and increasingly separate maintained and academy systems aren’t working for these children in many cases, as one group doesn’t have the money needed to offer effective help and the other often doesn’t seem to have the will, even though it has the ability to raise the cash.
I trust schools to do the best for ‘nice’ children supported by their parents, but I want them also to be supported to handle the more challenging of our young people as they set out on their lives. Exclusion and wiping your hands of the problem isn’t the answer.
If Paddington Bear can be thought of as a metaphor for an adopted child and can be falsely accused in the latest film of a crime he didn’t commit, then let us all pause for a moment and reflect upon not just our judgement, but also our treatment of adopted children. Sometimes being excluded must feel like being treated as a criminal and having done something wrong.
The adoption process in England is now being reorganised into larger regional agencies, but local authorities will still have to deal with the on-going responsibilities that result. From April 2018 the Virtual Schools will take on extra responsibilities for adopted children, on top of their already heavy workloads. But, as Adoption UK say, school staff should have better training around the needs of adopted children and for better support for these children throughout their schooling.
There is a further worry that the true extent of problem of exclusion is being masked because schools are regularly asking adoptive parents to take their children home and keep them out of school, without recording them as exclusions.
This is an area that Ofsted needs to inspect across a range of schools to uncover exactly what is happening.