We also met with a number of different professionals that support CLA such as designated teachers; members of LAs, CLA Education Support Teams; specialist EPs; Social Workers and an Independent Reviewing Officer. Here are their ‘top tips’ for CLA Friendly schools:
Barriers that schools can present
Lack of effective communication so…
- Past histories are not acknowledged;
- Important information not getting to the right people; and
- Schools not transferring information about a child’s past and educational history.
- “ We all have problems”
- “I am not a social worker/ therapist/ expert”
- “It is not fair on the other children in the school”
- “We shouldn’t have to have children like that here”
Lack of training, knowledge and awareness of general needs of CLA
A tendency to assume child is happy if no obvious issues but “still waters run deep”
What makes a school a CLA Friendly School?
✓ Ensure that CLA thinks / feels and believes they belong in the school, that they feel safe, special and cared about at all times;
✓ Have the key information about CLA e.g. care status; background;
✓ Tailor approaches to meet the needs of the individual child;
✓ Establish, explain and maintain routines with children;
✓ Always end every day on a positive;
✓ Be aware of unstructured times:
- Provide a safe place for CLA to go where necessary;
- Give them a job to do;
- Plan their activities; and
- Use buddies.
✓ Spend time on core social skills that others would learn in the home e.g. table manners/ board games / helping with chores;
✓ Use a home school book but ensure it is positive, not just a tally of the day’s problems. Highlight the good news as well as the concerns;
✓ Know who to contact for additional support when it is needed;
✓ Understand the terminology (as set out in chapter one);
✓ Use PDGLAC and other forms of additional support funding effectively; and
✓ Take responsibility not just constantly blame others when things are not going well.
Every school should….
✓ Listen to the voices of their CLA;
✓ Build relationships with carers and work closely together to address challenges;
✓ Have adults who take responsibility for their own emotional regulation;
✓ Be vigilant about what other children say to CLA;
✓ Address the negative attitudes towards CLA in the same way as a response would be made to racism;
✓ Address wellbeing, mental health and social relationships as well as the academics;
✓ Attend CLA Reviews and then share the information with key staff;
✓ Recognise the importance of the PEP – it is a key document not a paper exercise;
✓ Acknowledge responsibilities as Corporate Parent – treat CLA as you would treat your own children;
✓ Prioritise CLA for additional support where they may need it, not wait for things to become so bad it is too late;
✓ Ensure regular whole school training; and
✓ Give CLA designated teachers time to fulfill their responsibilities;
Working with the Social Worker
✓ Get to know your child’s Social Worker – they are very important people in the lives of CLA;
✓ Work with them to ensure a coordinated approach; and
✓ Remember like all professions they are all different – don’t assume because you have known one that you didn’t value that ‘they are all the same’.
✓ If you can’t attend a meeting then a report helps enormously;
✓ The report shouldn’t contain any surprises for the child at the review – ensure they are aware of what you have said;
✓ Provide the full picture: academic (attainments and targets)/ social relationships/ emotional issues / behaviour/ attendance;
✓ Include the soft outcomes as well as the hard data;
✓ Be positive / honest / sensitive;
✓ Don’t be influenced by the views of others; and
✓ Support what you say for example if there are behavioural problems then also provide the Individual Behaviour Plan that shows what you are doing.
SOME KEY MESSAGES
Thank you for taking the time to look at this document. We hope it has achieved its aim of increasing
levels of knowledge and understanding about supporting children and young people who are, or have been, in care.
We would like to bring this resource to a close with the lasting comments of our CLA:
This resource is based on Children looked after friendly schools, which was commissioned jointly by Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf local authorities utilising PDG LAC funding. The content was developed by Andrea Higgins, Academic Director and Programme Coordinator in Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, working closely with Hannah Bevan and Jess Jones, LAC Education Coordinators from Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil.