Department for Education
Adoption Reform Update – December 2014

Welcome to our December update. We open this issue with the letters that Edward Timpson wrote to all adoptive parents and adoption team managers. We inform you of the department's procurement exercise for specialist adoption advisors, the publication of the research report on special guardianship, BAAF's adopter recruitment case study results and the press coverage of an adoption activity day. We also update you on BAAF training and about Pupil Premium.

Also, we would like to extend our congratulations to this year’s National Adoption Week Award Winners.  As ever, the awards showcased a huge array of committed, innovative practice that changes children's lives – well done to the winners, nominees and all involved.

The Adoption and Family Law Team in DfE would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Edward Timpson’s Letters to Adoptive Families and Adoption Team Managers
As part of this year’s National Adoption Week, the Minister wrote an open letter on 3 November to all adoptive parents and one on 12 November to all Adoption Team Managers.  In both letters, he thanked them for their commitment to adoption and recognised the difference this is making to the lives of many children, most of whom have had a very difficult start in life.

You can also see a short video of Edward Timpson speaking at the National Adoption Week Awards where he discusses the importance of adoption support, and the benefits of a central information service to encourage more people to start their adoption story.

Research Report:  Investigating Special Guardianship
The research report 'Investigating Special Guardianship: experiences, challenges and outcomes' on 27 November. The report was commissioned by the DfE and carried out by the University of York.

The report analyses the implementation of special guardianship orders and considers how well they have met the needs of children and families since their introduction.

Both the report and the research brief are available on the GOV.UK website:

Impact of Family Justice Review Reforms on Local Authorities
During January and February 2015, the Department will be undertaking in-depth interviews with six local authorities (LAs) to gain an understanding of the impact of the reforms to date on their practices and processes.  We are planning to approach the LAs in the week ending 19 December to discuss arrangements.  In particular, the study will seek to identify changes to practice which have led to improvements we can disseminate nationally as well as any unintended consequences of the reforms.

The areas the study will look at include the following: (a) whether and how the LA has changed its practice in the light of the new 26 week case duration limit for care proceedings as required by the Public Law Outline; (b) how this has impacted on their early and pre-proceedings work with families; and (c) whether the LA has changed its practice in relation to the types of Orders for which it has applied to the courts.

Adoption Support Fund: an update
The DfE has recently completed a procurement exercise and commissioned Mott MacDonald to help support 152 local authorities (LAs) to prepare for the national implementation of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) in May 2015.  Mott MacDonald will be working in partnership with Core Assets, Adoption UK, BAAF and In-Control.

The work is commencing in December 2014 and will be complete by April 2015.  The initial focus of the work will be to help LAs identify what areas of support or development they may require in order to ensure families are able to take full advantage of the ASF, which will provide therapeutic support to adopted children and their adoptive families.

Mott MacDonald has been supporting ten LAs to design and test the Prototype Adoption Support Fund in preparation for a national rollout.  The work included an allocated Key Link Advisor (KLA) to each LA, which has proven vital to the success.  Therefore, all LAs will have an allocated KLA, who will be there to support their work and help facilitate sector support, harnessing the excellent work that is already taking place in many areas.  The other key success factor has been the LAs’ engagement and willingness to share their experiences and expertise.

The ASF will be available for children up to and including the age of 18 (or 25 with an EHC Plan or SEN statement), who have been adopted from LA care in England or adopted from Wales but are living in England.  The ASF will play a key role in helping to provide support to families following the Adoption Order.  LAs will also be able to submit applications for funding before the Order in order to provide a continuous package of support from the time of placement so that the particular needs of adoptive families can be addressed, and adopted children can be helped to thrive within their family home.

DfE and Mott Macdonald will be contacting authorities in the next couple of weeks to take this forward.

Pupil Premium for all children adopted from care or left care in England or Wales under a Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements / Residence Order
All children adopted from care in England and Wales, or who left care under a Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangement / Residence Order, are eligible to attract the Pupil Premium (PP).   This includes children in alternative provision (such as an independent school or educated at home) where the place or provision is funded by the local authority.

The PP is to help schools and other providers of education raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap with their peers.   It is paid to schools in respect of disadvantaged pupils in Reception to Year 11.  The Government extended the coverage of the PP in recognition of the traumatic experiences many adopted children have endured in their early lives and a realisation that their needs do not change overnight.

Parents will need to inform the school by 15 January 2015 that their child was adopted from care in either England or Wales, and provide supporting evidence (e.g. show the school the original Adoption Order).  15 January 2015 is the date schools complete the annual School Census - this will then trigger the payment of the PP to the school from April 2015.

If parents informed the school of their child’s adopted status for the January 2014 School Census, it should not be necessary to provide evidence again.   However, parents are advised to double check with the school to confirm that their child will be included in the School Census.   If the child has moved schools, parents will be required to provide evidence again as information is not transferable from one school to another.

Adoption Advisers
You will wish to be aware that the Department is planning to procure specialist adoption advisors to work with a small number of local authorities that require support to improve their adoption services.

The procurement will be managed through the National College for Teaching and Leadership’s Redimo e-procurement system.  Potential bidders would need to register on Redimo to gain membership to the Operational Associates (OA) framework and access procurement opportunities with the National College and the Department.

To learn more about registering on Redimo and applying to join the OA framework, please click here.

Please spread the word to anyone who might be interested.

A Message from the Children’s Partnership
To help share good practice on adoption around the sector, the Children’s Partnership is gathering case studies about adoption from voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) and adoption support agencies (ASAs) across England.  The Children’s Partnership is the voluntary and community sector strategic partner to the DfE, providing policy and delivery advice to government and support to the sector, a partnership between National Children's Bureau and Barnardo’s.

We know how committed VAAs and ASAs are to the continuous improvement of support to children and young people, so we are keen to share the good practice case studies around the sector.  They will also be provided to DfE, who will use them to illustrate good practice, inform policy thinking and use them alongside press and other announcements.  We are very grateful to those organisations who have already shared their good practice.

Do you have some good practice you would like to share as part of this project?  We are looking for case studies across all areas of adoption, particularly adopter recruitment, matching, avoiding unnecessary delays, partnership working with local authorities and other agencies, and improving the quality of practice.

If you have some good practice you would like to share, please contact Richard Brady, Policy and Research Officer at Barnardo’s on 020 8498 7746, (  A member of the Barnardo’s policy and research team will then be in touch to carry out a short telephone interview on behalf of the Children’s Partnership.  You will be shown the written up case study to agree it before it is shared with DfE.

Adopter Recruitment: Case Study
BAAF has conducted a case study of Southwark Council's approach to the recruitment of prospective adopters.

The case study is a useful tool for other agencies and gives interesting insight into how different approaches can stimulate recruitment.

Adopter Recruitment Case Study Southwark Council

Adoption activity days
On 11 November Children &Young People Now published the article ‘Meeting the children who need a home’ about adoption activity days, reporting on an event that took place in East Anglia.

BAAF Training Update
DfE contracted BAAF to run free seminars to support the adoption reform programme.   A limited number of places were available at each of these sessions to all registered adoption agencies and registered adoption support agencies in England.  There were a series of four seminar topics offered through regional workshops broadly covering the areas set out below.

Tranche 1 The Adopter Assessment process Jul-Sep 2013
Tranche 2 The role of Fostering for Adoption and Concurrency in care planning Nov 2013 – Jan 2014
Tranche 3 Effective and Evidence Based Report Writing Apr – May 2014
Tranche 4 Offering an Effective Adoption Support Service Sep – Nov 2014

To assist agencies in disseminating the information back into their agencies, BAAF filmed one of each of the events so it is available for you to watch using the links provided.

The briefing will be split into watchable sized clips and follow the information provided in the seminar workbooks.

To receive copies of the training materials used on the seminars, please email

Keeping you in touch
We are sending this update to those we have contact details for and look to you to disseminate this bulletin more widely among your colleagues and members. If you do not wish to receive this update please reply to this email and we will ensure your details are removed before any further updates are circulated. If any of your colleagues would like to be added to our circulation list, they should send their name, email address, job title and contact details to

If you have any suggestions as to how we might make these updates more useful to you – or items you would like to see – please let us know by contacting the email address above.

Adoption Reform Team
Department for Education 
December 2014