The role of a foster carer
A foster carer is an important part of the team which includes the child's social worker, the school's designated teacher for looked after children, the Derby Virtual School and anyone else who has an influence on the child's life.
Derby Virtual School supports carers to understand how previous life experiences impact on a child and how, as adults, we can support them to grow and develop and fulfil their potential.
Through foster carer training, we share tips and strategies to support foster carers in helping children succeed in education, preparing them for adulthood and independence, a journey that starts early in life and progresses through primary school, secondary school, into post-16 education, employment and training (EET) and beyond.
We want foster carers to be involved in developing a foster child's education; we aim to help foster carers to feel comfortable and confident in speaking to schools, teachers and other education professionals.
The importance of education for children in care
Children in care don't perform as well at school as their peers and it may appear that the very fact of being in care is seen as the reason why looked-after children underachieve. This however, is not the case, care can provide a protective factor and enable a child affected by early trauma to eventually reach a level of attainment that their ability indicates is possible. The 2015 Rees Centre and University of Bristol report into the educational progress of looked-after children demonstrates the importance of stability in placement and the important role carers have in supporting the education of children in care.
Children in care can achieve and succeed, but it requires the support and input of all those working with them to pave the way for that progress to happen, by continuously offering a variety of opportunities to take part in new and stimulating experiences as well as helping with the practicalities of completing homework.
Presently 6% of care leavers aged 21 or under have been or are still at university (21 years being the age at which students would usually graduate), however recent research 'Moving on Up', conducted by Dr Neil Harrison and to the University of the West of England commissioned by the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) shows that 11.8% of care leavers aged 25 or under had entered higher education, many having taken a less direct qualification route than the traditional GCSE - A level route.
Education can transform the lives of looked after children, raise their aspirations and be the key to stability and success in later life. We all have a role to play in achieving that goal and the role of the carer is as influential as that of the teacher or the social worker.
We aim to provide foster carers with essential information and advice about education that will ensure children are given effective and relevant support so they can fulfil their potential and succeed both in education and in life.