Sunday, January 31, 2021


Fostering can be the school of hard knocks for all concerned.

To paraphrase Alice Cooper; school is not just out for summer, it's out for the year.

I've got quite a few friends about my age, some are in fostering, some not. By the way there's no better way to meet like-minded people and form lifelong friendships than fostering. We still get a Christmas card from a fostering couple we haven't seen for ten years, but we know they are pals for ever.

Many of my friends have children at home who are being taught long-distance with varying degrees of success.

Some parents/carers/guardians end up being on the rough end of the resistance to learning that schools have to deal with day out, the only difference being that a teacher has 30 students at her all day, we have a fraction of those numbers.

One of the schools one of our foster kids attends tells me off the record that they have no shortage of parents who have given up teaching their children so are finding reasons to send them back to school despite the lockdown, but that most of those parents have not found it in their hearts to express new respect for the professionals who battle away!

Among my friends there seems a growing divide. Some of their children are being uncooperative, others are knuckling down. Among my lot it's about a 50/50 split. That's not how it usually works in classrooms, where the influence of the mis-behavers often overcomes the influence of the kids who want to learn and so you get a 70/30 split or worse.

One mum whose two daughters are both kicking against her efforts is desprate to pick anyone's brains on how to get them working but to no avail. If your kids don't want to learn…you can lead a horse to water etc.

I'm leading up to this weeks PEP for our eldest foster child. PEP stands for "Personal Education Plan". Children taken into care are often behind academically so the system puts a whole load of extra resources their way according to their individual needs. It's one of the many fantastic ways our state and private agencies come to the aid of the innocent victims of domestic crisis.

Eldest has just completed a bunch of exams which could be taken in school before the latest lockdown, so they were for real.

Eldest has been with us a good many years now, on arrival in our house could barely read and write and had a phobia about numbers. The child had been kept at home, never ever been to school. Not only that, the local school we got into turned out to have problems of it's own and the child had to be removed and found a new school.

You'd think such a set of experiences would result in a lifetime block on learning…and yet.

The PEP meeting was attended as usual by myself, our Blue Sky Social Worker, the child's Local Authority Social Worker, the child's SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) and the child's Virtual School Officer.

It fell to the Senco to read out to everyone in their Zoom windows the child's exam results.

A hushed silence followed. No-one quite knew how to react. The little mite nailed it. The results were up there among the school's top 3%.

We all gushed with pleasure and relief that the child is making their way.

I told the meeting that I'm holding back on telling those friends of mine whose children are struggling, partly because I don't want them to get despondent, partly because they might ask for advice.


All we've ever done is always let the child be sure they are unconditionally loved and that our family is not going to fall apart. We share with them our curiosity about the world, we sometimes let ourselves be seen reading a book for fun. If they ask if communism is a bad thing I say "I'll Google it", and they come back having Googled it too. They tell us their opinion and we fun-argue the opposite.

If we teach them anything concrete it's to look on the bright side, count your blessings, remember things could be worse.

I hope these blogs don't seem sugar-coated ever. Fostering can be tough, really tough, but there are always bright sides.

Fostering can be the most fantastic thing you ever ever do.


  1. That’s wonderful news! Congratulations to Eldest and all his support team.

  2. Thank you Lucy, I'll find a subtle way to pass on your congrats to eldest.
    I'm touched that you took a moment to make a lovely comment, thank you.