Teaching practice needs to reflect needs of children in care

Teachers need to understand how trauma impacts on children in care

Published on 8th March 2019

The government is being urged to amend guidance on teaching practice so it better reflects the needs of children who have experience of care.

A group of charities are calling for children who are in care or have been in care 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.

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.”

Almost two-thirds of care experienced children have suffered neglect and/or abuse while living with their birth family.

Adoption UK research from 2018 revealed that around three-quarters of secondary-aged adopted children feel that their teachers do not fully understand and support their needs. While 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.

Children who have spent time in the care system are more likely to have special educational needs, be excluded from school and leave without any qualifications.

The group of 12 charities, which includes the NSPCC and YoungMinds, has written to Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP recommending changes to the Teachers’ Standards which guide the design and delivery of initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

The proposed amendments are intended to trigger improvements in teaching practice, delivering a major step forward in addressing the disparity in well-being and attainment currently facing traumatised children.

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