Adoption support agency PAC has teamed up with the North London Adoption and Fostering Consortium (NLAFC) to create an education project with the aim of improving outcomes for adopted and otherwise permanently placed young people in schools.

Adoptive parents and special guardians consistently report that education is one of the main concerns they have for their children.

In response PAC, along with representatives from education and social care in five of the NLAFC boroughs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington), has developed a new project which aims to:

  • Identify an education champion for adopted children and children placed under a special guardianship order in each school involved;
  • Increase schools’ understanding of issues faced by many permanently placed children;
  • Raise parent/carer awareness of how to partner with others to be effective advocates for their children’s education.

The outcomes aimed for include:

  • Training and good practice materials;
  • Schools that have been involved in the project reporting that their knowledge, skills and understanding have improved;
  • Parents and carers feeling informed and empowered;
  • Every school having a ‘champion’ of adopted and permanently placed children’s education;
  • Schools including within their policies and procedures the needs of permanently placed children;
  • At least 80% of parent/carers with concerns about their child’s education who are involved in the project reporting satisfaction that their child’s needs are acknowledged and being addressed.

With input from Hermione Michaud, Head Teacher, Islington's Virtual School for Children Looked After, PAC has recruited two Education Advisers Ruth Pimenta and Emma Gore Langton, who will implement the project. Ruth and Emma have already made an excellent start on working with PAC's partners in the five boroughs. (See "Meet Ruth and Emma" below).

"The key aim of the project is to develop an innovative model of educational support for permanently placed children" said PAC's CEO Peter Sandiford. "We will achieve this by working with schools and local authorities to improve understanding and raise the profile of the issues faced by many permanently placed children".

The commencement of the project coincides with the government's recent announcement that, from April 2014, children adopted from care and those who leave care under a special guardianship or residence order will attract the new 'pupil premium plus' of £1,900 additional funding per pupil per annum, allocated to their school.

"This announcement reinforces the significance of of this project's work with schools", said Peter.

Judith Ellis, Manager of Adoption Support, London Borough of Barnet, welcomed the project:

"Many adopted children struggle to achieve their potential at school and can also find themselves bullied or excluded because early trauma and a history of dysfunctional relationships makes them vulnerable. Adoptive families often need help to advocate for their children and teachers need to know how to understand the needs of traumatised children. Although this is a pilot, it is hoped that, if successful, it could be rolled out to all the schools in the consortium."

Hermione Michaud, Head Teacher, Islington Virtual School for Children Looked After, writes:

"Islington's Virtual School for Children Looked After will be taking a full and active role in the project and are looking forward to the added value, knowledge and training it will bring to enhance our work for vulnerable children and young people."

PAC's Education Advisers Ruth Pimenta and Emma Gore Langton will be conducting PAC's new education project.

“We're currently planning our initial meetings with families and with schools" said Ruth. "We're also putting together a ‘menu’ for schools and local authorities to illustrate the kinds of support and staff development we can provide, and will be inviting parents to take part in our parent groups.”

“Young people’s voices will be central in the project” said Emma. "We are inviting those involved in the project to share their views about being an adopted young person in school. We're particularly interested in what they have found helpful in supporting them in their education".

About Ruth and Emma...

Ruth Pimenta has many years experience as a teacher and as a Child Mental Health Worker with Looked After children and young people. She has a postgraduate diploma in Psychosynthesis Counselling, a postgraduate certificate in Family Therapy and an MA in Child and Adolescent Mental Health from Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Ruth has worked therapeutically with children and young people and has offered consultations and training to professionals, parents and carers on emotional, mental health and behavioural issues and on supporting children and young people in education.

Emma Gore Langton is an Educational Psychologist with experience of providing support in a range of educational settings. She also works for a local authority delivering consultations, assessments, training and interventions for children and young people, parents, school staff and other professionals. Emma has a Professional Doctorate in Educational & Child Psychology from UCL and an MSc in Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry from the Institute of Psychiatry.

A Good Practice Guide for Schools

PAC is proud to announce the launch of A Good Practice Guide for Schools.

This new guide explains how attachment difficulties, trauma and loss affect children and young people’s learning, behaviour and social and emotional development. It is informed by a three year project coordinated by PAC’s Schools Trainer Julia Clements which involved running training and awareness-raising sessions for teachers and other staff in both primary and secondary schools.

The guide offers practical, evidence-informed strategies to help enhance the practice of all those working to support and include traumatised children and young people in school.

To date PAC has sold over 650 copies of the guide, which has received outstanding feedback. Surrey County Council was so impressed that they purchased 410 copies, one for each of the county's schools!

A Good Practice Guide for Schools – Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Children who are Looked After, Fostered, Adopted or otherwise Permanently Placed can be purchased here, price £10. Please call PAC on 020 7284 0555 to discuss bulk orders.

"We were so impressed with the guide we are making a copy available to all Surrey schools through our virtual school" Adoption Team Manager, Surrey County Council