Foster carers make a difference! We know that, of course, and recognise the huge value of their tenacity and the warmth and safety they can build for young people. They also make a difference in education and it is possible that this is less recognised. It is really important that the expertise of foster carers is valued by schools; they will know what is or is not working for their child. Breaking down barriers so we can connect with the child’s experience in the round is important for building the safety that enables learning.
In a recent visit to a primary school this was observed happening in a highly effective way. The school facilitated contact for a large sibling group whilst creating a space for a group of carers to share their experiences and support each other to better support the children. The carers had built such a positive relationship with the school that teachers were working with the carers in the home on learning strategies that the carers could then continue to implement.
This learning can be reciprocal. In Staffordshire, Sarah Rivers, Virtual School Head is training foster carers to deliver attachment support for looked after children in schools, so that they can share their expertise in what works and why. Likewise, Matthew Blood, Tri-Borough Virtual School Head, has been working with The Fostering Network on the London Fostering Achievement project. This involved recruiting foster carers to become Education Champions to work with other carers, schools and virtual schools. More information about the project can be found on their website, along with details of resources for foster carers and schools.
Foster carers make a difference when we recognise their blend of professional and parenting skills and how it can enable the network around the child to support learning in its most holistic sense.
Thanks to Tony Clifford, Sarah Rivers and Matthew Blood for this post.