Among the many things you’ll have to think about with when your child comes to live with you, is their schooling. If they have moved from a different area to live with you, this could mean finding them a new nursery or school. Or if they are able to stay in the same school, it could be finding the best ways to support them in their transition into your care.
Our recent research on Growing Up in Kinship Care found that school can be a challenging environment for children, even at an early age, so it can be really helpful to have conversations with the school from the offset.
Here are our top tips for talking to your children’s school about kinship care.
- Let them know about the kinship care arrangement. If your child’s school, or their teachers, are not aware that your child is in kinship care, this can be a really great place to start. If the children are placed under a Special Guardianship Order and previously looked after by the local authority the school can apply for Pupil Premium Plus. Check that any PPP applied for by the school can be evidenced that it is used to benefit their child.
- Give details. Knowing about your child’s background might help teachers to understand their behaviour and provide the best support in school. It also might help them approach things, like talking about family and home, sensitively.
- Speak to them about any concerns you have. If you’re worried about your child’s school work, or if they’re settling in; if you’re concerned about bullying; or if you think your child might have special educational needs, arrange a time to speak to their teacher and explain your worries. They should be able to help, or find the person that can. Guardians can also arrange to speak to the school’s Inclusion Manager/SENCO as well as the form tutor to make sure all their needs are being met.
- Ask for help. Speak to the school if you’d like tips on helping with homework, or reinforcing behaviour at home. It helps if the school and home are on the same page, and all messages to the child are consistent.
- Ask them to keep you up-to-date. All transitions are important to acknowledge, whether the child is just starting a new school, they are changing year groups, or new teachers are being introduced. These changes can, but not always, cause your child’s behaviour to change. The behaviour can manifest in different ways: mood swings, aggressive behaviour, becoming withdrawn or shut down. Let teachers know to be aware of these and let you know if they spot any changes in your child.
Have we missed anything? What’s helped you talk to your school’s about kinship care? Tell us in the comments below.
Thanks to the kinship carers who contributed to this post. If you’ve got any ideas for blog posts you’d like to see, let us know.