Adoption and education – how can schools support adopted children?

A good experience of school with positive teacher-child relationships can have a life-long impact on a child and how they view the world and themselves. Any changes that you make within your school and classroom to be sensitive to the needs of adopted children will also benefit all children who have experienced early life trauma.

By giving teacher support to vulnerable students, it helps them to better navigate changes and difficult topics, and creates a safe and more comfortable environment for them to grow. In this blog, we take a look at some of the ways schools can support adopted children to help them flourish.


Help with transitions

Many vulnerable students find transitions such as starting a new school or moving to a new school year really difficult, and may feel very anxious about the changes.

To give some reassurance, create a welcome pack for each student, that shares valuable information such as explaining who the key teaching staff are, how the school day is structured, and where they will eat and find the toilets.

Arrange friendly introductions with their teacher/tutor and their designated teacher before or during the first week of school, and ensure they know where they can go if they have questions, or find themselves struggling during the school day.


Keep an open communication with parents

A good relationship and open communication with the adopted child’s family will help to ensure a joined-up approach between support at home, and teacher support in school.

The family know and understand their child best, and may be seeing behaviour at home that doesn’t appear at school, and vice versa. It’s important that the student’s teachers are aware of any changes or struggles they may be experiencing to help support them in the school environment.


Consider curriculum topics through a trauma-aware lens

Be aware of any topics within the school curriculum that could be triggering to vulnerable students, and share these with the adopted child’s family in advance.

Topics such as ‘my family’ often come up in early years, whereas some children in later primary find reading about evacuees during WWII triggering. A number of GCSE texts may be problematic if they cover loss or violence. These texts don’t have to be avoided, but letting the parents know that they’re going to be covered enables them to have a conversation at home in advance to prepare the child. This kind of preparation with teacher support goes a long way to help children to handle these tricky topics.

Think about any films that you show during wet play or for a class treat – Disney films are a primary school favourite, but many feature themes of bereavement and loss.

School children in a classroom

How do you manage school trips? Behaviour? Achievement charts and rewards? There are many simple changes that can be made in the day to day running of a school that can have a positive impact in the classroom, and on students.

For more guidance on how to support adopted and looked after children and young people, join CATCH. We provide tailored resources, webinars and eLearning modules that gives schools and teachers the support, knowledge and tools to help all your students succeed.

Join CATCH today to start learning.