There are a few reasons that I have been thinking what an adoption friendly school would look like…not least a friend suggested that myself and some other friends such open a free school based on this idea…it was desperation talking.
Our children face all sorts of issues at school, some greater, some less. Thankfully at boyo’s school, we have the SENCO on side, who has researched attachment a bit and is attempting to understand, a head who gets it, and a willingness to think and listen from other staff (not all). An example is the acknowledgement from boyo’s new teacher that he will not cope with one of the teachers who is covering her PPA time, so she has made alternative arrangements for that time.
In my form at school next year, I have an adopted girl. When I was first told, I was concerned as I know something of this girl’s background as I know her mum and have seen her life story book. I asked that her mum was phoned and informed by head of year, who thought I was over reacting, but mum was grateful to be informed and is delighted….mostly because she knows that I know and understand. We have already discussed some issues and I have come up with some ways to help her daughter, with some of the issues.
There are some issues that don’t effect all adopted children, just some. Things like needing to go out of school regularly for therapy or appointments at CAHMS…which an adopted child/teenager may not want to discuss with everyone. A school where once it has been discussed between parent and year head/deputy head, allows a pupil to hold a card that says ‘please let X leave at 1.30pm’ and tells other staff not to question.
A school which has a chill out room or three, so when a pupil is becoming disregulated they have somewhere staffed to go to calm down. You might need more than one as different children need different things.
A school with small classes where homework is set, but is pupil directed not teacher directed. Where a pupil can do as much or as little as needed that week. On a bad week, it might be no homework is done, but on a good week they could excel.
A school where trying is recognised as being more important than achieving. Where success is measured by effort, both in behaviour and trying academically. A school where each day is a new day and past mistakes are forgotten. An understanding that 5 one hour academic lessons may be just too much. Where life and social skills are taught, not just glossed over. A school where opportunities are given to succeed in all areas.
A school that supports parents, and recognised that our children can’t always help their behaviour. A school that listens and understands that we know our children best. A school that appreciates that our children may struggle at times of change, but attempt to help them prepare for changes.
What would you like from an adoption friendly school? What else would help your children to thrive and achieve?