The APPG for Adoption and Permanence is back!

The APPG for Adoption and Permanence was re-launched on 30 June 2020.

After a postponed AGM and subsequent short hiatus due to Covid-19, the APPG for Adoption and Permanence was re-launched on 30 June 2020. During its first virtual AGM and election of officers, the group welcomed back Rachael Maskell MP as its Chair with Lord Russell of Liverpool staying on as an active Officer and Christian Wakeford MP and Peter Gibson MP joining as new Officers.

Following the re-commencement of the group, the APPG held the first of two sessions to learn from expert witnesses about the impact of Covid-19 on adoptive families and children living in other permanence arrangements.

This first session focused on how these families have engaged with the education system during this time and how the education sector has made steps to ensure that these vulnerable children can continue to learn and feel connected to their school. Jenny Jones, adoptive parent and director of the Inspired Foundation talked about the need to learn from what lockdown has shown us, which is that for lots of adopted children, a flexible approach to learning with more time at home better suits their needs. While the picture has been a truly mixed bag in terms of how families have found the adjustment to more home-based learning, attention is now turning to the transition that children and young people will need to make in September to adjust to returning to school, with many having been off for over five months.

Speaking from her experience as a former teacher and now Head of Inclusion at Lincolnshire County Council, Mary Meredith highlighted the need for schools to take a proactive approach in preventing exclusions, recognizing that the transition back in September will be hard for many and may result in challenging behaviour. With adopted children being twenty times more likely to be excluded than their non-adopted peers, Mary put forth that “We need less referring on and more holding on”, encouraging schools to stick with children and their families in addressing the root causes of challenging behaviour and to take steps to make schools a safe place for those children.

Reinforcing this, Stuart Guest, an adoptive parent and Headteacher at Colebourne Primary School outlined the practical and comprehensive steps his school was taking to support pupils in returning to school in September, recognizing that for children who have experienced trauma, the transition back may be particularly challenging. He emphasized the need for schools to focus on wellbeing of these vulnerable pupils and as such provided evidence about the hybrid model that his own school would be implementing in September, to support children who struggle with the return.

The session highlighted several challenges faced by families during this time, but also some of the new, flexible ways of working that schools have implemented to support their vulnerable pupils. Schools have had to adapt incredibly quickly during this time and as one parent outlined in a report on Home Learning by Adoption UK, many have demonstrated admirable agility and support for their vulnerable pupils:

My son’s school has smashed it. So pleased. He is in year 11 and this could have been a disaster if they went to a school that weren’t so aware of the importance of attachment.[1]

As attention turns to September, it is vital that schools are supported in ensuring that the transition back is as smooth and supportive as possible for all pupils, but particularly those living with the legacy of trauma.

The APPG for Adoption and Permanence will hold its second session on Tuesday 14 July which will consider the impact of Covid-19 on individuals and families journeying towards adoption. For more information, please contact [email protected]ap.org.uk

[1] Home Learning during the Covid-19 Lockdown, Adoption UK, April 2020; Available here

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