What kinship carers could expect from schools
The following describes good practice but is not necessarily found in every school.
Supporting a child to improve their behaviour
A child or young person in kinship care may have past experiences that continue to impact on their behaviour. This should be recognised by the school and some degree of flexibility should be exercised (for example within their behaviour policy).
The school should look to support the child to improve their behaviour by incorporating trauma informed, attachment aware practices, with relevant training if necessary.
All approaches should be exhausted to avoid exclusion becoming necessary. Where a previously looked-after child is at risk of exclusion, the designated teacher should talk to the child’s carers and possibly ask the advice of the virtual school.
Communication between school and carers
Carers of previously looked after children should expect clear lines of communication with their school. This is obviously much easier in primary schools, where a child usually has a single class teacher, than in a large secondary school where a child has many teachers.
To avoid confusion or duplication of information, the school should ensure (or the carer could insist) there is a single person to communicate with, if possible. For example, this may be the designated teacher, the form tutor, or a member of the pastoral team.
It is also good practice for a child to have a ‘trusted adult’ in school – a member of staff they could go to if they experience any sort of difficulty.
Academic progress, aspirations and teaching methods
Schools should regularly inform kinship carers about the academic progress of the child you care for. You should be made aware of your child’s strengths and the areas that need more support.
Schools should have high aspirations for young people in kinship care and realise that all pupils can achieve their academic potential, despite suffering past traumas for example.
Schools should also ensure kinship carers are aware of how key skills are taught, particularly in mathematics, as these may have changed since the carer was at school themselves.
A transition is a move between schools (for example primary to secondary school) or a move between classes (for example reception to year 1). This can be a difficult experience for previously looked after children who may have already experienced significant disruption in their lives.
Transitions should be managed carefully by schools, and it should be understood that children in kinship care may need a longer and a more gradual transition than other pupils. For example, they may need to visit a secondary school earlier and more frequently than others before they start. Transport to school should be organised well before the pupil’s start date, with a ‘trial run’ of the journey if possible.
The spending of Pupil Premium Plus (applies to England only)
When spending this funding, the school should seek out the opinion of the carers. Though the funding is not ring-fenced for a particular pupil, schools must publish details of how they are using the money and the impact that it is having.