It's a worry, because when the bell rings/whistle blows just before nine until they run out to us waiting at the railings we don't have any first hand knowledge of their day. It's an even bigger gap if they're old enough to travel by themselves, we may not see them for 8 or 9 hours, 5 days a week. What happens to them in that time? Are they getting what they need?
As Foster Carers it's down to us to get them to school no matter how much they don't want to go. And if they are involved in trouble at school, it's up to us to do most of the damage limitation.
If a school excludes or refuses our foster child, our Social Worker will come alongside and try to set up a solution. But we often wonder how much the school is helping.
These are concerns raised by one of our anonymous contributors to the blog, and I'm grateful to hear how it is for others doing this darned job. The contributor wasn't able to post much in the way of specifics, to ensure the child's anonymity, and that's the way to go if you're thinking about adding a comment (use the tab at the bottom of each post).
I think there's one key thing to always keep in mind: schools get extra money if they take a foster child. I'm afraid I can't say how much exactly, I suspect it varies and may even be information that foster carers are not considered qualified to know. But it's money that should be spent on our child, not absorbed into the school's general budget and end up as the insurance payment on the mini-bus.
Schools have to pay their way in this day and age, and if a school refuses a child it's worth remembering that they cross off some revenue, and will only do that reluctantly. They will be weighing the loss of funds against the way in which the child is impacting the education of their peers.
I've always found the vast majority of teachers hugely sympathetic towards the looked-after children when talking to us Carers, but a bit confused about whether to single them out for special help or treat them as they would any other child in order to avoid distinction that can generate discrimination.
Most head teachers hope they can help the child, but often end up resigned that the child's presence is too disruptive. They have to be protective of their statistics, which include attendance as well as academic success, so they sometimes set aside an isolated building to house their difficult pupils. A bit like the cooler in The Great Escape.
If there's one thing that always helps,it's the teacher who cares that extra bit. Every school has plenty of them, along with the one or two who don't.
I've mentioned this before but it's worth repeating in a post about schools. I asked to meet a child's Head to discuss her schooling. The Head arrived ten minutes late,didn't apologise and began by listing, in front of the child, her shortcomings. At the top of her list was poor punctuality. Honest.
We have to keep plugging away at the school, talking to the teacher, the Department Head, the Head Teacher, the pastoral care officer or spiritual guidance liaison coordinator or whoever deals with the tricky children. Even if the worst comes to the worst with the school, the child will know you've been battling for them, and some good will come of that. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday soon, and for the rest of their lives.
The Secret Foster Carer