1. Communication is so important - it really helps when a school establishes clear and regular lines of contact.

 “Headteachers who prioritise the education and welfare of looked after children ensure that the governing body is able to fulfil its obligation to appoint a sufficiently senior and experienced designated teacher with sufficient time to undertake their duties and influence school policy. They also facilitate termly reports from the designated teacher to the governing body and a positive working relationship between the designated teacher and the designated governor for looked after children.Rees (2015) Virtual School Handbook

2. Children looked after have different needs to their peers and a unique relationship with their foster families.  

The relationship between foster carer’s and the young people in their care is very different to that of a parent or other professionals: “In nursing, social work, teaching…professionals do sometimes form [emotional] attachments with the children and young people who are their patients, clients or pupils, but this is always secondary to their other aims. In contrast, to be a truly successful foster carer or residential worker your emotions must be engaged. One of the most important ways you can help a child is to form a mutual attachment – to help them learn how to care about another person.” Cairns and Fursland (2008) Transitions and Endings. BAAF: London

3. We often have contact, supervision visits and multiple placements connected to foster care, so please be flexible about access to meetings.

Feedback via surveys run by The Fostering Network for London Fostering Achievement, March and August 2014

4. If we have delegated authority in relation to a child, as outlined in their care plan, please ask us to make day to day decisions for the child in our care e.g. permission slips.

The placement plan sets out the arrangements for the child to live with and be cared for by the foster carers, should include any arrangements for delegation of authority from the local authority to the foster carer. The placement plan should help the foster carer and the school understand what decisions foster carers can make. It is therefore vital that schools are familiar with the child’s placement plan, so that they are clear which decisions can be made by the foster carer, and which need to be made by the child’s social worker. Rees (2015) Virtual School Handbook

5. We are professionals and we want to be listened to and viewed as equals.

 ‘Foster Carers want to and should be fully involved in the child’s education and seen as an equal partner in this process.’ Fostering Higher Education Success in Wales: a report on Foster Carer’s views on supporting children in Education, Cardiff Metropolitan University, 2012 and from feedback via surveys run by The Fostering Network for London Fostering Achievement, March and August 2014

6.We really want to be involved in the Personal Education Plan process, and may need support and encouragement from you to get our voices heard 

Feedback via surveys run by The Fostering Network for London Fostering Achievement, March and August 2014

7. Our experiences of education vary so in some cases we may be less confident to engage, but it doesn’t mean that we aren’t passionate about education.

“..study of foster carers’ experiences and opinions with regard to children’s educational achievement. Respondents clearly identified systemic barriers, including low aspiration for the children - something they struggle to counter, a problematic relationship with other professionals involved in their care, and lack of knowledge or experience on their part in how to support children, particularly through to higher education.” Cardiff Metropolitan University (2012) Fostering Higher Education Success in Wales, a Report on Foster Carers’ Views. The Fostering Network Wales: Cardiff

 “Analysis of longitudinal data on adults (using the British Cohort Study and the National Child Development Study) has looked at how parents’ literacy and numeracy levels can affect children. This study indicated that children of parents with the poorest grasp of literacy and numeracy are at a substantial disadvantage in relation to their own reading and maths development compared to children who have parents with good literacy/numeracy.” Dept. Children, Schools and Families (2008) The Impact of Parental Involvement on Children’s Education. DCSF. Nottingham 

8. You can really help us to boost self-esteem and confidence by giving us and the young people in our care regular feedback on the positives and having high aspirations.

‘The negative stereotypes and low expectations perceived to be held by professionals of looked after children need to be acknowledged and addressed both at an institutional level and at community level.’ Fostering Higher Education Success in Wales: a report on Foster Carer’s views on supporting children in Education, Cardiff Metropolitan University, 2012

9. Please offer us the opportunity to consult with you on how the Pupil Premium will be spent. 

Feedback via surveys run by The Fostering Network for London Fostering Achievement, March and August 2014

10. Being a foster carer can be isolating – please offer us the chance to connect with other parents / carers

‘Peer contact between carers can fulfil a number of important support needs, above and beyond the valuable network of support sometimes provided by supervising social workers, family and friends: the need for emotional (the provision of caring and empathy), instrumental (concrete assistance), informational (assisting with problem-solving) and appraisal (positive feedback) support (Hinson Langford et al., 1997). In addition, peer contact can serve to counter the sense of isolation that foster carers can experience (Blythe et al., 2011)’

Supporting each other: An International Literature Review on Peer Contact Between Foster Carers, Nikki Luke and Judy Sebba, Oxford, 2013