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Teachers need to understand needs of children in care

Teachers need to better understand the trauma that children in care have experienced, a group of charities has warned.

Guidance on teaching practice in England needs to better reflect the needs of children who have spent time in the care system, the charities say.

The charities including Adoption UK, NSPCC and YoungMinds have written to Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP urging changes to the Teachers’ Standards which guide the design and delivery of initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

Adoption UK’s chief executive Dr Armstrong Brown said: “If vulnerable children are to have an equal chance in school, it is essential that teachers have an understanding of how trauma can impact upon an individual’s capacity to learn and regulate their behaviour. We urgently need the Teachers’ Standards to be revised to reflect children’s need to feel safe before they can start to learn.”

Nearly two-thirds of care experienced children have suffered neglect and/or abuse while living with their birth family. Children who have spent time in the care system are also more likely to have special educational needs, be excluded from school and leave without any qualifications.

According to Adoption UK research last year, around three-quarters of secondary-aged adopted children feel that their teachers do not fully understand and support their needs. Research from Become – the organisation for looked after children and care leavers – found that 87 per cent of teachers received no training about looked-after children before they qualified as a teacher.

The group of charities are calling for care-experienced children to be recognised as a cohort with specific needs alongside existing groups, such as those with disabilities and those for whom English is not their first language. The second proposed amendment would see reasonable adjustments made to behaviour policies to accommodate the needs of traumatised children.

 

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