If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Interview with a school

Sometimes being a governor isn't good when you are also a parent! You see and know things that perhaps you would prefer not to, life isn't fair, straightforward or black and white. There are budgets many, many children each of whom matter, targets, standardised tests and so on. The constraints are huge, so when it comes to one set of parents asking for a whole school change for what on the face of it is for one child there really should be no surprise that those requests are met with caution or sometimes complete dismissal. After all in many cases the person sat in front of us has years of experience in teaching and school process'. Yet none of whom have any understanding of the issues regarding children in care. Not intentionally, I am sure but our education system does not seem to take into consideration children who do not fit the norm emotionally or academically.

 The YIPPEE Project  aims to 'increase knowledge of the post-compulsory education of young people who have been in public care as children'
A research project funded by the Framework 7 Research Programme of the European Union, this research brings together and studies five EU countries – Denmark, Hungary, Spain, Sweden and the UK. 
When children in care were asked if they felt that schools offered them a safe and secure environment the responses were a resounding yes in every country EXCEPT the UK!

It hadn't occurred to me that the primary school that has served for our 3 older children may not be the place for child 4, until I read Sally Donovans " Unofficial Guide To Adoption" and when it did I was filled with concern almost bordering on despair, what if the school I had been such an advocate for wasn't able to take on child 4 and his potential needs. I knew deep in my heart if the school couldn't or wouldn't ready itself for supporting children with difficulties with attachment I would have to consider an alternative. So using Sally Donovan's chapter on advocacy I planned our interview with care, I dressed professionally, packed up all my adoption books, set up a folder with all the research I have on attachment. I wrote out everything I wanted to talk about and revisited my knowledge, finding old and  new research supporting our request for staff training. It was imperative that the head actually believed that children whom have been adopted have been traumatised, they are not just magically fine because they have a new family who can take care of them. Their trauma can exhibit itself in what could be viewed as naughty behaviour or symptoms of ADHD. If the staff didn't recognise or believe in the research then there would be no hope for us building a relationship with them.

On Tuesday Mr L and I met with the head and the SENco. I was nervous, what if they showed no understanding or willingness to listen? what if the head suggested that I looked at other schools to ensure the best possible outcome for our son, what if I was just unhappy with the reactions. But   Phew , all worked out. The SENco had just been to a county meeting where attachment was the headline topic. The school were sending four staff for KS1 to an inservice training day about attachment and if that was successful and useful then the school would ask for the trainer to come into school to explain the neurology and impact of attachment and how staff can deal with the behaviours that spiral from it.

I left the meeting relieved, I couldn't have asked for a better start to what will be a new  relationship with our school. The SENco is definitely in our corner, she is learning everything she can about attachment and is very open minded to the research and its suggestions in how to deal with the behaviours our children exhibit. With her championing my son and with the head at least willing to learn about attachment our son is in with a fighting chance to an education with all the emotional support he may need.  And it's not just him who will benefit, with the school looking at how to get the best from their children by using therapeutic methods mean that many other children will benefit too.


  1. A great post, and I'm sure many will identify with it. Thank you for sharing, and for linking up with #WASO x

  2. Really helpful post as we're just about to transition to Junior School and am planning a meeting with the Head of our chosen school. I've found Sally's Book really helpful too x