The guide - Getting it right for every child: A parent’s guide to working with schools - offers advice on how parents can best work with schools to benefit their child’s education.

Many adopted children struggle at school because the vast majority of them experienced abuse, neglect and/or trauma with their birth parents. Abuse in early years has significant effects on the development of the brain which often has knock-on effects on children’s behaviour, relationships and cognitive development. As a result, adopted children rarely respond to the traditional methods of sanction and reward.

A survey of Adoption UK’s members found that more than a quarter of their children regularly refuse to go to school and nearly two thirds of parents said their child’s school or teacher did not understand their complex needs. Nearly 60 per cent of parents said their child was always trying to catch up in school and compensate for their early life experiences, while 80 per cent of members said their children need more support in schools because of their early childhood experiences.

Written by Ann Bell, an adoptive parent and director of Adoption UK in Wales, the guide sets out the vital aspects that adoptive parents should look for when choosing a school.

The content is based on contributions from adopters, adopted children and young people, teachers and those responsible for looked after and adopted children in local authorities.

The guide, funded by the Welsh Government, also provides information on how attachment issues can impact upon a child’s progress through the education system as well as recommendations from internationally renowned experts on trauma and attachment.

Ms Bell said: “As adopters, we provide stable homes and nurturing environments for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society. Whilst parenting in such circumstances is hugely rewarding, it also presents difficult challenges, no more so than when our children enter the education system.

“I’ve written this booklet to provide the reassurance and guidance that parents need to help them choose the right school for their children, ask the right questions, and find the right support and help when they need it most. Adoptive parents are their children’s single most powerful advocate, and I hope that this informative guide provides power to their elbow.”

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: “We know that adopted children often need extra support when it comes to their education and this new guide aims to help parents make the right choices for their child as they navigate the school system. Learning can only take place if children feel safe and that does not come naturally for children who have had bad experiences with adults in their early years.

“We want to make sure children and young people who have been adopted have the same opportunity as other children to achieve the very best they can and reach their full potential in life.”

Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant said: “This guide is designed to give adoptive parents extra advice to help them to access the right support in school when they need it. Without that support, children and young people will continue to face barriers in achieving their full potential.” Adoption UK is also running a campaign, along with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and others, dedicated to ensuring that all schools are well placed to address the needs of this vulnerable group.

Adoption UK is the leading charity providing awareness and understanding for those parenting, or supporting, children who cannot live with their birth parents. Adoption UK’s purpose is to give voice to adoptive families and to ensure that the right support is there for them. Anyone experiencing difficulties is urged to become a member of Adoption UK and contact the Wales Adoption Support Helpline on 029 2023 0319 (10am to 2.30pm, Monday to Friday), or by emailing

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