Last night we went to the first Adoption Forum held by Bradford Council. It was the continuation of a process that had started early in the year when the Lead Member for Children on our Local Council came to our support group meeting (Stories and hope), following on from that there were some discussions held at council level, and the result was that in May it was agreed that we would have this forum (An adoptive parents forum). I also feel the need to direct you here where the Councillor has expressed his views and ideas.
Locally there are many issues that adopters hope will be discussed over the coming forums – I’m not sure that when the chair asked for ideas of things that we wanted to discuss, she was aware of what she was asking… I know from the people that I personally know who attended, that there were a lot of suggestions put forwards.
But for the first meeting we heard from the Head of Bradford’s Virtual School. We listened to what her job involves. We were given the opportunity to question – and we did. There was a lot discussed but some key points that were raised…
Should the designated teacher for children in care, also be aware of adopted children and their needs. The VSH is hosting a meeting for the cities designated teachers later this month, and will be asking ‘what about…’ as part of that meeting.
We talked about PEP’s and how she views their role. That the targets should be SMART (smart, measurable, achievable, realistic targets) and relating to attainment. At the moment these only apply to LAC not to adopted children – the question was raised as to whether they should also apply to our children.
We talked (at length) about pupil premium and exactly what it means and possibility for spending. She has a strong viewpoint that parents should be party to a discussion on how it is spent. Questions should be asked about ‘what additional support or help does this child need?’ Whilst the money cannot be ring-fenced, it should be used to enhance the child’s learning. That there should be some possibility of it being spent on a child’s emotional health if that is were their needs are.
At the moment there is a lot of data collected about LAC – and none about adopted children. There was a question about whether as schools can now identify adopted children, that this point would be a good time to start monitoring their outcomes.
There was some discussion about whether our VSH could be given some responsibility for the local adopted children… but obviously last night was not the place that this decision could be made. However, she did say… that if we have an issue with our child’s school and how they plan to spend their PP+ money and we need some backup that we can contact her.
There is a real feeling – I’ve heard it expressed before – that the adoption order makes our children invisible. That somehow the adoption order cancels out all the trauma and neglect and abuse that have come before. The lives that we are living prove that this is not the case – but it can be hard to get recognition of this. Teachers do not have enough experience and training on what adoption means, and unless this changes, how can teachers help our children.
The meeting closed with Councillor Berry speaking. He is very aware that there is a need to take on board the suggestions and the issues that we face as adoptive families. He is hoping that the forum will guide and shape future services. He sees the forum as the start of a dialogue between adoptive families and the council. And I have to hope that, that is the case… that this is the start of something that can change things for the better for our families and the ones that come after.
And for Cllr Berry’s viewpoint, click here.