Ten Things Children Looked After Wish You to Know

Kids and teenagers vary greatly from one another. Developing wellness, resilience, and core strength in all children depends on listening to them and appreciating their ambitions, thoughts, and opinions. Based on research that has already been done and focus groups with care leavers, this section summarizes some of the more frequent issues that schools should be aware of.

Children walk with the teacher to the school.
Photo by Note Thanun on Unsplash

Input from Staffordshire Virtual School referenced in the legislative advice for Designated Teachers indicates that children in care concurred that knowing and having a good connection with their Designated Teacher was one of the essential aspects of helping them in school.

They provide the following top five suggestions for hearing a child's voice:

  1. Be accessible and spend time getting to know me
  2. Pay attention to my emotions and listen to me when I need support
  3. Recognize that just because I come from a different background than other people, it doesn't always follow that I should be treated any differently
  4. Recognize how being taken care of has affected me
  5. Recognize that even if I don't realize it, my previous actions will influence how I behave now and in the future

In collaboration with young people who have experience in care and The Fostering Network, we have also put up the list below:

1. Please Treat Us Discreetly

We are extremely aware of our care status and frequently prefer it if our peers were unaware that we get additional assistance or support due to being cared after**

Of the care leavers surveyed, 24% reported being bullied or having been bullied due to their placement in care.

Ofsted (2012) Children's care monitor 2011. Children on the stare of social care in England. Ofsted: Manchester

2. Decide How We Should Address Our Foster Parents

The 'ordinariness,' or lack thereof, of their lives. Looked after children dislike being made to feel different. They may feel different from their classmates due to the variations between their surname and that of their caregivers.

Wilson et al. (2004). Fostering success: An exploration of the research literature in foster care. Social Care Institute for Excellence. London

3. Recognize That Transitional Periods Are Tiring

People shouldn't view us as an item. But, of course, we're going to be different if we've moved frequently and away from the people we love! And we have to get used to new routines at school and in new homes.

Care and prejudice. A report of children's experience by the Children's Rights Director for England. Ofsted (2009). Manchester.

All adopted or looked after children have gone through loss—loss of their biological family, maybe loss of one or more foster homes, loss of friends, loss of former schools, etc. Many kids won't be able to trust adults since, in the past, people who were supposed to be taking care of them have let them down. Support must be provided for regular changes at school. Beginnings and ends may be extremely tense moments, whether they are primary (the end of the school year, a new teacher) or minor (moving from one classroom to another, beginning of school week, end of the lesson). Remind the youngster subtly what will happen next, constantly attempting to keep them calm and focused.

The secret to effective transitions is resilience. But, unfortunately, cared-for children and young people may not:

4. Share With Our Foster Parents Any Possibilities You May Have to Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities

Young persons and children looked after benefit from assuming additional role identities outside the stigmatized master identity of "young person in care." The many settings in which we spend our lives—home, extended family, religious communities, school, clubs, and the workplace—offer opportunities to broaden the variety of social roles a young person can perform. Each of these roles has advantages for the young person, including social acceptance, fun, connections, and success.

Gilligan (2009)Promoting Resilience. BAAF. London ??

5. Provide Us With a Thorough Baseline Evaluation

Such a evaluation considers any areas in which we may excel or fall behind in our education due to transitioning to the British educational system or switching schools. By way of homework groups, catch-up programs, one-on-one tutoring, or internet tools, you may help us close those gaps.

Over 6,000 students relocated at least once in the academic year 2013–2014, while over 1,000 children in care attended three or more schools in a single year.

Stephenson (2015). Thousands of looked-after children forced to move to school at least once a year. Community Care.

Levels were eliminated, making it more challenging for teachers to assess students moving into their classes. Primary schools are no longer mandated to utilize national curriculum levels, making measuring students' development and attainment more challenging. According to OfSTED, the shift will encourage educators and inspectors to focus more on student achievement via work examination than on a teacher's limited performance evaluation. Not all schools use the same procedures for evaluating attainment and progress across the Key Stage since there is no reporting of national metrics of achievement across Key Stage 3.

6. Please Be Understanding of Our Triggers And Don't Take Them Personally

School may be a safe place for us to vent when things distress us.

Children looked after may feel uneasy about their situation and view school as a protected place to express their unhappiness and resentment without immediately endangering the security of their placement.

Hughes (2002) Make school a place for playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy

7. Offer Guidance to Our Foster Parents

Forster parents need support on how to best help us at home in order to improve our academic achievement.

Interventions meant to raise their children's success indirectly provided parents and caregivers with enormous help. In addition, foster caregivers are far more likely to see improvement continue outside of the classroom in schools that closely collaborate with them and include them in all facets of school life*

The APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, 2012, Education Matters in Care

8. Recognize Our Accomplishments

Trust in us, and have high expectations for us rather than undermining our confidence. Show us your strengths so we may build on them.

Programs that integrate personal development (such as communication, decision-making, and anger management) into leaving care services positively impact young people's educational achievement, employment, housing, health, and other life skills. Supporting care leavers' successful transitions to independent life.

Fauth, Hart, and Payne (2012) Supporting care leavers’ successful transitions to independent living. National Children Bureau. London

Educational achievement has significant repercussions for future vocations, lifestyle, and relationships and is intricately linked to self-esteem.

Jackson (2001)Nobody ever told us school mattered. BAAF. London

9. Having Access to a Computer Is Necessary

Computers are essential in starting in secondary school, but it can be challenging when we share our house with other young people.

Some fostering organizations have mandated that a kid in their care use a computer in a shared space. Although this may imply that young people have time restrictions on computer usage, keep this in mind when assigning schoolwork.

Boffey (2013) Fostering in a digital world. The Fostering Network. London

10. Our Lives Don't Only Revolve Around Being in Foster Care

We want to be treated like other young people, make friends, and accomplish.

Children looked after believe that people typically think poorly of them. A little under a quarter of the kids believed that children in care were perceived as troublemakers, and almost half said that the public thought these kids were nasty and unpredictable. On the other hand, only one in ten people thought children looked after were like other kids, and one in eight thought the public felt sorry for them.