This book is for the foster carers or adoptive parents of children who have been or are Looked After by the state. It hopes to develop good practice, which will support the child through some turbulent times.It offers some disheartening statistics in the introduction –
• Of children continuously Looked After for 12 months during the year to 31 March 2012, just 15.5 per cent achieved GCSEs graded A* to C in English and mathematics at Key Stage 4, compared to 58.7 per cent of children who were not Looked After.
• In Key Stage 2 tests, 50 per cent of Looked After children achieved level 4 or above in both English and maths, compared with 79 per cent of non-Looked After children.
• Looked After children and young people are four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than their peers. The reasons for this vary from living in chaotic homes, to having learning difficulties or moving from one foster home to another, or being returned home on numerous occasions only to be removed again when problems arise.
The book is divided into chapters revealing one helpful hint or tip each.
Tip 1 – Learn the Child
Tip 2 – Assess the impact of the child’s history on her education
Tip 3 – Gather information about the child’s history
Tip 4 – Get to know the carers and work with them
Tip 5 – Find out as much as possible about the school
Tip 6 – Form a relationship with key school staff members
Tip 7 – Facilitate the links between the carers and the school
Tip 8 – Ensure the child has information that makes sense to her
Tip 9 – Support the child through transitions
Tip 10 – Assess the network for areas of positive impact
In each chapter the author(s) expand on their themes and present case studies to illustrate their points. The book is set out in good, simple language. It has suggestions and tasks to help with understanding and confidence. The list of useful organisations and useful resources make for a substantial amount of helplines and support networks to empower any foster carer or parent.
I would consider this book to be a valuable asset for any social worker and teacher where there will be children whose lives have been inevitably disrupted by changes and stresses that most of us do not have to face. We should be thankful that the authors have put together such a treasure.
Fursland, Eileen with Cairns, Kate and Stanway, Chris Ten Top Tips for Supporting Education