Wednesday 2 December 2015

EAG Adoption Support Group: Education

The quarterly DfE Expert Advisory Group rolled around and this time the focus was on education. Crickey, release the floodgates. Without doubt one of the topics that I'm sure any parent, adoptive or not, will be able to share an opinion or two on usually with gusto. 

To start with we touched on the meeting that the Adoption UK's Adopter's Voice programme had held at the DfE and Sally D and I fed back from that. 
We then moved onto the main focus of the meeting and with Peter Sandiford giving feedback from the PAC UK's survey on education.  Our special guest, Gareth Marr,  followed this with a presentation on thoughts and benefits of the Virtual Schools incorporating adopted children into their remit.  Both very good and helpful, to be honest they were preaching to the choir and we all saw the benefits that could be actualised if the Virtual Schools did this. Certainly Gareth's charismatic presence added weight to the argument and it was a pleasure to have his experience brought to bear.

It's clear that in the short term that no edict will be issues to make heads of the virtual schools incorporate adopted children into their virtual schools. However, some have and  this has been found to be beneficial for the adopted children and as was noted if it benefits one child in a classroom then it is likely to benefit all the children. 

One of the key roles of the Virtual School is to train teaching staff and I find the argument that in training and equipping schools to support and accommodate adopted children they will develop a skill set that will benefit all children. So, to sell it to schools re frame the training required as part of a range of necessary teaching skills in supporting pupils in relation to loss, separation, bereavement, trauma and, finally, attachment. The number of children that are impacted by these events far out number adopted children. I'm thinking divorce, separation, children of those incarcerated or in the armed forces, bereavement, those experiencing abuse or living in a violent home. A range of experiences but the reality is that if schools see the bigger picture they are more likely to be able to incorporate specific children's needs as well as histories and home contexts.

In no way was the meeting derogatory towards teaching staff and it was acknowledged the challenges that they face in the context of Ofsted requirements and increasingly punitive behaviour contracts and  the like. Lots was discussed and there is more to be unpicked and that will no doubt be done over the next few months and added into the pot.

So, in summary a positive EAG meeting group discussion. 


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