Where do I begin? What a misnomer to refer to children in the care of the State as 'looked after' when many are anything but. We know that only 18% of children who have experienced being in foster care for at least a year before they sit their GCSE exams achieve a level 4 (equivalent to a 'C' grade back in the day) in Maths and English (https://article39.org.uk/2018/04/03/gcse-results-of-children-in-care). We also know that "11,530 looked after children had a missing incident in the year ending 31 March 2018, which was 11% of looked after children during the year" (Department for Education, Nov '18). Why is so little being done to improve outcomes for these children?
It is shocking that 25% of the adult prison population have previously been in care, when less than 1% of the general population have experienced living in care (The Care Leaver's Association, 2014). Children who are looked after and adopted also do less well in education, when compared with the achievements of their peers, (Weale, 2018). Weale cites Adoption UK’s research that adopted children are 20 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers and more likely to leave school without any qualifications.
Today (March 26th, 2019), we learn what psychiatrist R. D. Laing was advocating in the 1970s - that families are the source of many people's problems. The Office for National Statistics states "Healthy family functioning and parental mental health are important elements in understanding the mental health of children". In a report published today, they write "Research on children aged 2 to 16 years, living in England, found higher rates of mental disorders across all ages in those who lived in families that struggled to function well (unhealthy functioning)." And yet, we still do NOTHING to help children from struggling families. Social Services departments are not fit for purpose as they have not got the funding to safely protect the children known to them. Many boroughs in London are barely surviving using agency social workers who are exhausted and overwhelmed (not to mention distraught at their inability to do their job properly because of government cuts).
Teachers are unable to support these children in the classroom and are then 'blamed' when the required grades are not achieved. We all need to sit up and take note. These children are OUR FUTURE. Teaching emotional regulation in schools makes sense. Even if your child comes from a secure and loving home, they may have a good friend or future partner who doesn't. Developing emotional literacy is a priority. As Pam Leo said:
"Either we spend time meeting children's emotional need by filling their cup with love, or we spend time dealing with the behaviours caused by their unmet needs. Either way we spend the time."