Adoption UK has just published a powerful report about a concerning picture of school attendance for care experienced children such as those who are adopted and those in kinship care. The report is in English only and uses English data because England is the only UK nation to collect it at the moment. However, the report contains other information from Wales and the issues are unlikely to be markedly different for Welsh adopted learners.
The report notes that:
‘For many previously looked after children, school is a very hard place to be. Most adopted and kinship children have experienced significant trauma and adverse early experiences, and all have experienced the disruption and loss of leaving their birth parents and moving to a new family.’
The key findings in the report explore the way in which absence reporting can mask issues around mental health in schools and absence codes can make it difficult to get a detailed picture of all the factors involved. It also suggests that care experienced, disabled and children with chronic health issues may be penalised for unavoidable absence and highlights the fact that even when these children are in school, there may be other barriers which make it difficult for them to fully access all aspects of learning and school life.
The report concludes that:
‘Adopted and kinship children are not well understood within the education system. They are more likely than their peers to be absent because of mental ill health, unmet learning needs and essential medical appointments. Only when we improve understanding, training and support will we improve attendance. What is more, the strategies and solutions that will support improved attendance for adopted and kinship children are likely to have benefits for many others with similar needs.’