Amendments to the Teachers’ Standards to accommodate the needs of traumatised children.  

On the 6th March 2019, Adoption UK presented Nick Gibb MP with a letter to request amendments to the Teachers Standards to accommodate the need of traumatised children. Please see the letter here. Releasing Potential would like to express their support in regards to the proposed amendments for the following reasons:  

The facts:  

To generalise the findings from the DFE 2018 report, looked-after children are significantly under-achieving in terms of mainstream school examinations. With 59% of looked-after children being diagnosed with SEN, amendments to the system are crucial.  

47,530 looked-after/adopted children were identified as having a primary need of ‘abuse or neglect’ – the most common reason identified. This suggests that the young person may be experiencing trauma, mental health concerns and lack of personal and social awareness. This must be addressed during education to prevent YP being excluded from society in adulthood. 

Our experience:     

We have been working with marginalised young people for over 18 years. Many of our YP are from the care system or have experienced trauma in the early stages of their life. We have built a curriculum with a balanced mix of functional skills and personal & social development (PSD), on a 1-1 or 2-4 ratio. 

Looked-after children are often feeling an array of emotions and this can cause a distraction from education. After all, how can we possibly expect a young person to concentrate on long term goals/achievements if their present life is pandemonium? The proposed amendment to categorise looked-after children will ensure that they receive tailored support to suit their needs, not limited to generalised SEN. As the data states, the majority of looked-after YP have experience ‘abuse or neglect’, therefore suggesting more complex needs in terms of mental wellbeing.  

Behaviour:  

Research has shown that children in the care system are 6x more likely to be cautioned or convicted of a crime. There are many theories that explore the psychological process that YP take when displaying challenging behaviour. Choice theory explores the idea that every action is intended to fulfil the following needs: Love and belonging, Freedom, Survival, Power and Fun. Therefore, providing a framework to understand the need and justification of actions of extreme behaviour or the choice of action frowned upon in society.  

The second amendment suggested is as follows: ‘making reasonable adjustments to the behaviour policy where appropriate to accommodate pupils’ needs’. For a looked-after child, school may be the only place of stability and routine in their life. To exclude them from that environment or make them feel victimised can cause further trauma and damage relationships. Therefore, making reasonable adjustments to the behaviour policy to allow looked-after YP to express themselves in a safe environment with emotional support. Find out about managing challenging behaviour here 

To conclude, Releasing Potential support the call for urgent change to take place regarding the educational standard for looked-after young people. Every child deserves suitable and accommodating education.  

We would like to wish Adoption UK a successful campaign that will bring great change in the near future.