Friday, March 18, 2016


One of the things that makes foster parenting different from normal parenting is the extra effort and expertise that goes into the child's education.

You wouldn't need an Oxford degree to work out that children coming into care are generally behind in their education, but until you see it close up it's difficult to explain how how far behind they can be.

It's not just literacy and numeracy, it's attitude and belief.

Children from normal backgrounds often baulk at going to school, sitting up straight, pushing a pen around an exercise book, doing homework. But they know there's some kind of deal going on; work hard at school and you'll have a better life later.

Foster children have often torn up their contract with the world. They give up, don't want to know.

It's not their fault. Their chaotic home life was probably spent among adults who weren't academically educated, never read a book, knocked school and schooling as a concept, showed little or no interest in the child's education.

When they come into care they have a huge transformation to try to keep up with; their foster carers promote school, praise good work, read to them, watch documentaries as well as Eastenders.

The local authority puts aside money to go to the school to be spent on the child, it's called Pupil Premium, I rate it highly if used well, and we've had a blinding success with one of ours recently.

They can have one-on-one tutorials in their weak subjects, or play therapy, or art materials.

One of our looked-afters was struggling to make friends in the playground. It was heartbreaking to watch her trying to get involved with groups and gangs and being rejected. I talked to the local authority about how it's a shame that playtime doesn't offer support to children like her.

They didn't miss a beat. They hired specialist staff to run a lunchtime club in a cabin. It's taken off so well they have to turn pupils away. They can only take so many and have had to come up with a token system, so popular is the club. 

So many children fear playtimes.

My looked-after, who doesn't know it's really all for her, has been made Deputy Playleader to explain away the fact that she's allowed to attend every session.

This is what can be done for them, and the sort of things we should be doing.

All on top of the Personal Education Plan that tracks their progress and draws up new targets and strategies every term.

Y'know, it's what education should be like for everyone, but while it's special provisions for foster children, I'll grab them with both hands.


  1. Now that is a wonderful idea! So many kids need help at breaktimes, not just looked after ones. Nice to see a school doing something effective and innovative too.

  2. It took a lot of pushing. I'm afraid getting change in schools is hard, especially primary where the staff sometimes seem to want to re-create the environment they experienced as children, which is a real deadweight on progress. It was the money talked louder than the idea, but what the heck it worked, and the child is benefitting, that's all that matters.