500 signatures reached
To: Education ministers*
Break the barriers to school attendance for care experienced children
*and Permanent Secretary in Northern Ireland
As many as half of children who are adopted or in kinship care are missing school or unable to take part in lessons. They are not absent because of poor engagement with education or a lack of motivation, but because school and wider systems are unable to meet their needs.
We call on you to address the causes of absence and break the barriers to school attendance for adopted and kinship children by committing to Adoption UK’s 4-point plan:
1. Understand the data: Collect and use national data to improve understanding of previously looked after children’s needs and to assess the effectiveness of measures already in place to support them.
2. Equip teachers: Improve training for education professionals on the impact of care experience, early adverse experiences, neglect, abuse and trauma, and conditions which disproportionately impact care experienced children such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
3. Identify learning needs early: Improve procedures for early identification of learning needs and give prompt access to assessment, diagnosis and support for all previously looked after children.
4. Review the codes: Review the codes used to record pupil absence including the addition of a mental health code.
Why is this important?
Half of kinship carers report that their child has additional learning needs. Four in ten adopted children missed school due to concerns about their mental health in 2022. Adopted children are also more likely to be excluded and more than twice as likely to be suspended as their peers. These children have a right to attend school and to thrive when they are there. For families of children who are already struggling to cope in school, current approaches to tackling absence are at best antagonistic and at worst, create misery. Only when we equip schools and wider services to meet every child’s needs will we solve the attendance crisis.