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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

Teacher looking for advice

(23 Posts)
KateBeckett Tue 07-Jul-15 22:39:41

I hope it's ok that I post here, I am just looking for some advice about a child that will be in my class next year.

Child and their sibling have been in care and also unfortunately been through an adoption breakdown so are now again with a foster family.

I have been given a little info about child's background, but no support with how to support child both educationally and emotionally, so wondered if anyone here could give me some pointers? I know it will be difficult to give advice without specifics, but any vague ideas of how I can support this child would be fantastic!


CamelHump Tue 07-Jul-15 22:45:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tangerineandturquoise Tue 07-Jul-15 22:59:01

Get your TA on board if you have one- use any TA you can but PLEASE do not use volunteer parents. They may well come with additional fund from the LEA (pupil premium plus) see if that can be applied for to help pay for extra support

Also some adoption agencies and CAMHS also offer courses on attachment and the class room your school could probably benefit from that

There is a book by Louise Bomber (well a few actually) Inside I'm Hurting and another called Settling to Learn which is awesome if you can read or flick through those over the holidays please do

This link has some good resources

Adoption UK also have some resources HERE

Could you meet the child before they start?

I really hope you can make a difference

tethersend Tue 07-Jul-15 23:11:35

The child should have a personal education plan in place which is reviewed every six months- ask the designated teacher for a copy of this and insist that you are present at the PEP meetings.

The Virtual Headteacher is responsible for all children in the care of their council- they can be a great source of support.

Every child's needs and strengths will be different, but be prepared to turn everything you know about behaviour management on its head, and don't expect immediate results- sometimes strategies don't always appear to be effective straight away; this doesn't mean that they are not having an impact. Think long term.

If you feel comfortable PMing me your (or the child's- this is the authority which took the child into care, not necessarily the same as the home or school authority) council, I can give you the contact details for the Virtual Head.

Your school should have a designated teacher for LAC who is responsible for ensuring that you have all the information you need for Looked After Children. Have they met with you?

fasparent Wed 08-Jul-15 04:10:17

Very sad, your LA or if child is fostered out of area, would have parental control, local LA will now administer PP+ for the child and IEP individual Educational plan, also new Education Health and Care Plan ( Replaces the
old Educational Statement ) LA or old LA will have a copy as should school if this is applicable.
This is a Classic example of moving After Adoption services out of LA and Virtual Head Control, which may change soon. See what some LA's are doing too counter this, which is being followed by Children's Minister and Department of Education, Effective change hopefully will come soon. which will move some £200m too After Adoption Support and Virtual Head control, as against the meagre £17m allocated too NEW Adoption support fund in May this year.
Google Gareth Marr Adoption Train, or Adoption social, too see . Also should be able too down load related resources as Trauma, PTS, and attachment's.

totallybewildered Wed 08-Jul-15 04:47:00

If the child is in your class for one year, you will not have time to build a meaningful relationship, nor should you try. Concentrate on being a good teacher.

iwishkidslikedtomatoes Wed 08-Jul-15 08:03:37

erm....I'm a little bewildered.

Being a good teacher means addressing the needs of EVERY child in your class. Asking these questions is doing just that. Are teachers completely overworked and have little time to go the extra mile? Yes. Which means the OP isn't concentrating on being a good teacher but an excellent one. So please don't quash the efforts of those excellent teachers who are able find to the time to do a little extra research to help the children in their class.

I also disagree with the meaningful relationship comment.

Sorry, if that's a little harsh but I'm an ex teacher so know this not to be true.

floatyjosmum Wed 08-Jul-15 08:52:08

Family futures have training and books etc specifically for teachers - might be worth a look

JamHoneyMarmite Wed 08-Jul-15 10:52:44

YY to the great advice above esp re Louise Bomber.

The emotional age of the children is likely to be much younger than their biological age, so try and keep that in mind, because it will help you set them up to succeed. Keep steps small and predictable, try and keep daily patterns and small groups the same. Give them time to prepare for changes (of activity, location, etc). Bear in mind they might find transitions especially hard, so beginning and end of day. They may also find unstructured time i.e. lunch, quite tricky to navigate. If you can lead them through it, model for them how things work, it could help.

fasparent Wed 08-Jul-15 10:52:46

Do not be distracted by some comments, We see change, change, and change. Most support is voluntary by application if one does not know or apply one does not get. Where as things should be statute and mandatory, All too often social workers and teachers are ill informed as what is available in the way of support and little training is offered.
Suit's Government's too keep access too support voluntary, or issue directives at difficult times, like Pupil premium was announced on day before schools broke for summer holidays. Less people apply for support more money they save.

KateBeckett Wed 08-Jul-15 12:11:58

Thank you so much for all of this, it is really helpful to know.
totallybewildered I'm not trying to get advice on how to form a life changing attachment with the child, simply advice for how to make my year with them as easy, happy and useful as possible for the both of us. The advice I have been given will help me achieve that, I hope.
I will look into the books etc suggested, and take on board the info given here, thank you so much to those who have offered me some help.

tethersend I will pm you when I get home tonight - a lot of your post sounds unfamiliar. I checked this morning and the child does not currently have an iep in place hmm so would like some more info from you if possible! Many thanks for the offer.

Velvet1973 Wed 08-Jul-15 13:01:58

There's always one Kate! I for one would be extremely grateful not to mention mightily impressed if any of my sons teachers go to the lengths you're doing to try and make life a little easier for a child that's already been through so much. Hats off to you, we need far more teachers like you.
No advice from me as my lo is only 1 so a bit off school yet!

TheTroubleWithAngels Wed 08-Jul-15 13:12:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Devora Wed 08-Jul-15 18:08:49

Hi Kate, how nice of you to come here and ask. I wish my dd's teachers were as interested!

IME there's often a lot of struggle around transitions - starting the school year, starting the school day. I think it's excellent advice to meet the child (and parents) in advance. Is the child at the school already? If so, useful for them to regularly visit your classroom, maybe take some photos of them with you for them to take home and look at over the holidays.

Getting into school can be difficult. My dd copes best if she is given an immediate job that brings her into contact with the teacher (usually, sorting out the school bags or taking the register) - anything but being let loose into a sea of children. Some children do best if they get to school a little early, and are the first into the classroom, again to avoid that feeling of being swamped.

The child may need a comfort object to help them through the day. I often write a tiny note - just something like 'Mummy loves you' - which dd can tuck into her pocket for the day. Or we take in a special object - a toy - which the teacher keeps on her desk. She tells dd that if ever she feels sad or has big feelings, she can come straight up and cuddle the toy. (Whatever you do, don't copy the teacher at our school who took to using the comfort object to punish - ie. if you're naughty I won't let you look at the photo of your mum.)

Be careful of inadvertently exposing the child by doing things like asking the class to bring in baby photos (we've just had this).

Think through discipline strategies - many adopted children will respond very badly to common discipline techniques like time out and boards of shame. Of course, you have to bear in mind that you can't appear to treat one child differently from the others, so will require thoughtful planning!

Attachment: my dd has to feel there is someone in the room with whom she has a strong personal attachment in order to be able to cope. This is the only way she manages school (at home she will not be left on her own at all - not in bed, not on the toilet, nowhere). This means that she would spend the day wrapped round the teacher if she could, which is obviously far from ideal for the teacher. At the worst times, dd's teacher has coped by letting her follow her round the room with one hand on her shoulder (better than wrapped round her legs, but still not great). It's difficult for all and requires a lot of home-school communication.

dd also invests a lot of her emotional safety in her friends, and this can lead to lots of intensity and anger when things go wrong.

Keep an eye out for nasty comments from the other children - or actually even innocent comments that can be very hurtful for an adopted child. Natural curiosity may lead to, "Why didn't your mum want you?", or "But who's your real mum?" which can be difficult to manage. I don't know the age of your class, but I think a proactive approach which sets standards for manners and respecting all kinds of families and backgrounds is always a good idea.

And lastly (because I've gone on too long) don't forget how important PPP can be. For example, my dd's PPP is used to pay for in-school therapy, which is a useful source of advice and support for her form teacher.

Devora Wed 08-Jul-15 18:10:39

Oh, one another tip that's worked well for an older adopted child I know: her teacher has told her that anytime she feels overwhelmed and is tempted to kick off, she can go and sit on a particular chair at the back of the class and look at a book till the TA/teacher can get to her. I don't know that this would work for all children, but she has found it helpful.

Fannyfannakerpants Wed 08-Jul-15 18:24:10

I did my nqt year with a teacher who went through the care system. She said she owed her while life to one teacher who made an extra effort with her. Making sure that she caught up academically with extra tutoring and help socially. I don't have any advice that anyone here hasn't already given but knowing this teacher really helps me to remember that we really can change children's lives for the better,even if we do just have them for a year. I hope you get the support to do so.

Devora Wed 08-Jul-15 18:26:24

Oh yes, a good teacher can make an ENORMOUS difference to a traumatised child. Best of luck!

totallybewildered Wed 08-Jul-15 22:42:33

I also disagree with the meaningful relationship comment.

Sorry, if that's a little harsh but I'm an ex teacher so know this not to be true.

and I am a foster carer, and know that teachers who try to build up a "meaningful relationship" with a child in care do a lot more harm than good.

you can't do anything in a year, except maybe start to build up the first tiny tentative beginning of trust, then crush it again when you move on to your next class and the relationship is over. Maybe good for the teacher's ego, but devastating for the child.

Just be a good teacher, like I said.

fasparent Wed 08-Jul-15 23:07:24

Agree too disagree totallybewildered , as Kate said No Support or IEP in place , no Education and healthcare plan if required. No Pupil Premium plus being used., Has too be a initial understanding meaningful relationship too assess and put into place the child's needs , which then can be carried forward into the next year group and beyond.
Good luck Kate speed is of the essence at this stage too put things in place, then can slow down with short and long term projected goals and regular PEP Reviews with LA Virtual head, Foster Parents and School. We too are Foster Parents of some 40 years and still learning , and Know the system.

tethersend Wed 08-Jul-15 23:12:18

Totally, I can understand the point you are making; I'm an advisory teacher for Looked After Children, and have seen examples of what you describe. Good intentions are great, but as you know, they can be damaging without knowledge. It is knowledge which turns the good intentions into good strategies and good teaching. Knowledge is key. The OP is acknowledging what she doesn't know, and wants to learn; that is absolutely A Good Thing.

I do not think being a good teacher is separate and distinct from forming relationships with children, particularly at primary age. In some cases, teachers continue to act as a child's Key Adult even once they no longer teach them. A well planned and executed transition from one teacher/class to the next can sometimes be the first manageable 'ending' a child experiences.

Some children for example (particularly those with attachment difficulties) can find it hard to share the teacher's attention with the other children. Unless the teacher is skilled in strategies to help the child trust that he/she is being kept in mind, the child will not be able to reach their academic potential. In such a case, building a relationship and alleviating some of the child's anxiety is part of being a good teacher.

I am reluctant to offer any specific advice without knowing the child first. Whilst many behaviours are common to trauma- experienced children, it is important to see every Looked After (and adopted) child as a child first and foremost. People with knowledge about this child are there to advise and help you, you don't have to find your way alone.

The PEP meeting is separate and distinct from an IEP. Children in care do not have to have an IEP, but they must have a PEP which is reviewed at least every six months, preferably termly. They must have a meeting within 10 days of coming into care or starting a new school. The child's social worker, foster carer(s), teacher(s), sometimes the LA advisory teacher, sometimes parents and other involved professionals attend, and the child should be involved according to their age and ability.

During the PEP, information and strategies will be shared, progress discussed, targets set and decisions made about how to spend the Pupil Premium. It really is essential that you attend as the class teacher.

It is a legal requirement that all schools have a Designated Teacher for Looked After Children- find out who yours is, and ask them for the information you need, which they should have.

fasparent Wed 08-Jul-15 23:22:36

Sure all know how it works after initial planning is put in place .
Good Webb site Kate too access information for Attachments and Trauma teachers may experience in schools

iwishkidslikedtomatoes Thu 09-Jul-15 00:36:38

I don't wish to derail thread, sorry, but when an apology is needed it's got to be done!..

It is incorrect that you can't form a meaningful relationship with a child within a year. I've done it countless times and it has nothing to do with my ego. An ability to form a meaningful relationship with a child makes you a better teacher.

HOWEVER, where children in care are concerned, their ability to form meaningful relationships in similar time periods may be different. Plus further loss of people who form such relationships with them....I understand your point on how that could do more harm than good. Your clarification makes it clearer at what you were trying to get at in your first response, so I must apologise, sorry. I saw it as a blanket sentence for all children as I was focusing more on the gaining extra knowledge bit, I should have added context to it, sorry. I still think teachers who take the time to educate themselves around the subject, rather than just getting on with taking a whole class approach, regardless of the individual students needs, is a blessing. It's what parents/carers, students, and the dreaded OFSTED want, but something there is little time to do properly. I hope for as much with the teacher of my child who is entering the school system at the same time as leaving the care system.

OP..I have nothing to add, (apart from an apology for the mini derail) the other advice is fab. Good luck for your new class and have a good summer break smile (the part of it where you're not working wink )

fasparent Thu 09-Jul-15 12:41:36

Agree it is important for parents too be aware of structures schools have in place, equal is the schools duty too keep parents aware of this.
Dreaded OFSTED got a phone call from them few months ago at 8pm in the evening could I attend a meeting at 830 the following morning, Fortunate school in question fulfilled the above mentioned criteria so had the answers for the grilling and was no problem. Which proved vital too OFSTED report outcome. Same could not be said of other schools sadly.

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