Advice and guidance for adoptive families and schools
Despite all the benefits of being adopted into a forever family, many adopted children struggle to thrive in school due to the impact of their early life experiences. This has been recognised by the government and a number of measures have been put in place to provide support for adopted children and young people. You will find information here about
- Free early education
- Early Years Pupil Premium
- Pupil Premium for children from Reception to Year 11
- Priority Admissions
- Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings
- Adoption Support Fund
Click on a heading below to find out more..
Free Early Education
Adopted children aged 2, 3, and 4 are entitled to 570 hours of free education per year. This is under the “Achieving 2 year olds” and “Free for 3 and 4” schemes. Usually, this is taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year but providers who offer all year round provision may offer fewer hours per week over a longer period of time. The government are talking about extending this to 30 hours a week and this should happen from September 2017. The education provider/child-minder must have signed the necessary agreement with GCC. For 2 year olds a referral is generally done through their health visitor. For 3 and 4 year olds a form is completed several times a year at the provider.
Useful page for more details: Funded free early learning and education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds
Family Information Service 01452 427362 or Freephone 0800 542 02 02
Early Years Pupil Premium
Adopted 3 and 4 year olds are now entitled to Early Years Pupil Premium to help them reach their potential. If the education provider is able to provide a copy of the child’s adoption certificate to the Local Authority, the provider will receive an additional £0.53p per hour on top of the free early education that the children receive. (The maximum a provider can currently receive per year is £302.10). It is therefore up to adoptive parents to give a copy of the adoption certificate to the provider if they wish this Pupil premium to be accessed. In the case of children in adoptive placements, who are not yet legally adopted they will be identified through the 3 and 4 year old funding team. Useful document for more detail: Early Years Pupil Premium Q&A (DfES, 2014)
Pupil Premium Grant for Adopted Children
This is additional funding from the government given to schools in England to tackle disadvantage and close the attainment gap between eligible pupils and their peers. It is currently £1900 per year and is for students from Reception class up to Year 11. In order to be eligible, students need to have been looked after by an English or Welsh local authority immediately before being adopted.
In order to receive this Pupil Premium funding, school needs to see evidence of a child’s adopted status so that they can enter this onto their January census. This usually means parents giving a photocopy of their child’s adoption certificate to the school as soon as the child joins a new school. Parents can blank out any details they do not wish the school to see. The school should then receive the money the following financial year, post April. For a child entering Reception, this means that the school does not receive the Pupil premium funding until the summer term. Likewise for a child in Year 6 soon to leave Primary, the school receives £1900 just before the child moves onto another school. In this case, parents may want to talk to the Primary school about purchasing a resource such as a lap top that the child can take with them, or requesting that the funds are transferred to the Secondary school.
Unlike Pupil Premium that was accessed through the Virtual School when the child was still legally in care, Pupil premium money for adopted children comes directly from the Local Authority and is not ring-fenced for the individual adopted child. Schools can pool Pupil Premium money for numerous children to gain maximum impact from the funding. Every school should have a section about Pupil Premium on their website which explains how they have spent the money and what effect this has had on closing the attainment gap. It is a good idea for parents to talk to the school about how the Pupil Premium will be used to benefit their child. The following are possible ways it can be spent:
- Whole school or individual training in attachment and trauma
- Additional teaching assistant hours
- Small group tuition in targeted subjects
- Specialist assessments e.g. educational psychologist
- Start up, or development of, a school-based nurture group
- Start up, or development of, programmes such as forest school, social groups, mindfulness
- Resources such as iPads
- Child mentoring
- Music lessons
At the moment, independent schools cannot access Adopted Pupil Premium for their students.
See this document for more information: Pupil Premium Questions and Answers (Adoption UK)
All children who have been adopted from care should now receive priority for school admissions. See Government extends guidance for prioritised school admissions to all adopted children (First 4 Adoption). This means you don’t have to live within the school catchment area to be able to get into the school. Even faith schools generally have some places which are not reserved for their denomination and adopted children should be high on the list for the remainder of places. Check individual school admission policies as there can be differences, especially with Academies. The Gloucestershire Schools Admissions office on 01452 426015 are helpful and can advise you about individual cases. Do tell them that your child was previously in care.
Even though a child may be in an adoptive placement, whilst they are legally still in care they will have Personal Education Plan meetings to review progress and discuss use of the Pupil Premium for Children in Care. At this stage the Pupil Premium will be administered through the Virtual School of the Local Authority where the child was taken into care. The PEP is the responsibility of the social worker as it is part of the care plan. In Gloucestershire, a learning mentor from the Virtual School will support with that process, but they are not responsible for ensuring it takes place.
Once the adoption order comes through, the statutory PEP meetings stop. However, adoptive parents can request a more informal review meeting with school staff whenever they feel it appropriate. Indeed, recent NICE guidelines say that children with attachment difficulties should have an educational review meeting at least once a year. A suggested format for such a meeting can be downloaded from this website.
Adoption Support Fund
Money to fund therapeutic interventions is now available to adoptive families through the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). Sometimes a child may receive play therapy or a creative therapy on the school premises even though it is funded by the ASF. In order to access the funding, parents need to request an Assessment of Need from the appropriate Local Authority Adoption Team. For 3 years post adoption order this will be the Local Authority that placed the child, thereafter it is the Local Authority where the parents live.
For further information see Adoption UK's Adoption support fund page
Training for schools around supporting adopted children can be accessed through a number of organisations. Gloucestershire Advisory Teachers Service usually run an annual day’s training around attachment difficulties: Advisory Teaching Service training courses
Adoption UK and PAC UK (see web links below) offer training that is relevant to school staff.