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Foster carers have an opportunity in these difficult times

Foster carers can support educational attainment

Foster carers can encourage educational attainment

Foster carers like all of us are now being dramatically affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. The country is experiencing a widespread disruption in ways that are unprecedented. There is much that is uncertain. What is certain is all parents – including foster carers – are going to have to become engaged with the education of the children they are responsible for in a way no one could have imagined. There is much in the media about how the lockdown will create a lot of pressure in families. And sadly this will be true in many homes. But there can be silver linings in all situations – even the most difficult. One of the principal responsibilities of any foster carer is to do the st they can to support the educational experience of the child or young person they look after. In normal times, this means waving them off to school in the morning and being prepared to talk about the daily experiences their child has had when they return. And of course, taking a real interest in furthering their goals and ambitions. This is all part of the fostering job. But now we find ourselves at a point in time when foster carers are going to have to get more directly involved in their young person’s schooling. This might; where older children are concerned mean ensuring they are online for whatever teaching is being delivered that way. But for younger children, the role of the foster carer is set to become much more hands-on. This can be looked on as a very positive experience, its well-known that the involvement of adults in a child’s learning at home can have a highly positive impact on their development and learning at school. 

There is much work that shows that educational attainment can be critically affected by the degree of input and involvement from parents at home. It’s clear that the moral, emotional and personal development of any child can be massively influenced by the kind of parenting they receive. There can be no better example than demonstrating the value of education. Showing it to be something that lasts a lifetime – not just during school hours. This is why encouraging children to read can make such a profound difference in their lives and a whole range of outcomes. What to hard-pressed parents – including foster carers – tend to complain of most these days? Shortage of time: there is never enough time to get things done. This is a universal complaint – not just the preserve of parents. But we now, all of us, confront a situation where the reverse looks to be true. Thousands of families are isolating themselves and the schools are closed. Suddenly, there is more time potentially available than people have ever had. It’s perfectly true that this can by itself be incredibly stressful – especially if people have financial worries. The truth for many will simply be how they cope with a complete change in their normal routine that results in a lot more time to be used in different ways. Foster carers who are finding they are spending hugely more time with their children, should view this as the chance to give them the kind of support that could make a profound difference. It is a vital role of all fostering service providers to let their carers know just what a significant difference they can make. Those foster carers that play a central role supporting the education of their children are precisely the ones who will derive most rewards form the fostering process. The question has to be asked if parents do actually know what a difference they can make?

Foster engagement.

Professor Alma Harris and Dr Janet Goodall, based at the University of Warwick, were commissioned by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust to research this area. ‘Engaging Parents in Raising Achievement Do Parents Know They Matter’ was the title of the report. And much was found to give real encouragement to parents and foster carers. The report made a vital distinction:

“Parents have the greatest influence on the achievement of young people through supporting their learning in the home rather than supporting activities in the school. It is their support of learning within the home environment that makes the maximum difference to achievement. Many schools involve parents in school-based or school-related activities. This constitutes parental involvement rather than parental engagement. Parental involvement can encompass a whole range of activities with or within the school. Where these activities are not directly connected to learning the have little impact on pupil achievement.”

This means that it is engagement that can make the key difference. And parental engagement can, in turn, be positively reinforced by a child’s level of attainment. Put simply, the higher the level of attainment, the more parents are likely to engage. As the report reflects: 

“Parental engagement is not the same as parental involvement. Engagement implies that parents are an essential part of the learning process, an extended part of the pedagogic process. This research has shown that the aspiration of raising achievement can only be fulfilled if parents are both involved in schools and engaged in learning.”

So there we have it. Foster carers and all parents can see the present situation as a way of engaging with their youngsters. Many families will be having to stay indoors for the foreseeable future but there is a whole world wide web out there. Journeys, for now, may have to be virtual but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer much by way of learning.

These general recommendations around how foster carers can support children’s learning still apply through the current difficulties.

  • Communicate with a child about their progress at school;
  • always be encouraging if they are offered additional support and opportunities at school; keep up-to-date and informed as to the progress a child is making;
  • establish routines in relation to completing homework;
  • make use of any home to school communication system to inform the school about how things are progressing at home;
  • ask a child what they most enjoyed learning that day at school;
  • find out from they what they think most improved their understanding of a topic;
  • ask a child what was the most enjoyable part of the day;
  • find out what they think you can do at home to assist with their learning art school;
  • build upon and be sure to encourage a child’s strengths and interests;
  • always give recognition for work or activities that have been done well.

For ideas for home-based activities visit –

Start your fostering career with Rainbow today!

Providing foster care can mean many different things to different people. There are many different agencies to choose from. At Rainbow we take particular pride in the way we work in partnership with our foster carers to best ensure the welfare of our children. Remember: our children are not adopted, they are fostered. Adoptive parents have the full legal responsibility for a child. Foster care and adoption are different because a child who is fostered is the legal responsibility of their Local Authority in the area they came into care from.

The foster care system can seem a confusing place for people. Especially when they first apply to be a carer. A foster family with Rainbow will always be able to rely on our commitment to providing the best support and training. We offer plenty of respite care for our foster carers.

Therapeutic foster care training in a Rainbow setting

A genuine interest, passion and commitment are the qualities needed if you are interested in therapeutic fostering as a career. You need to consider: could you provide a supportive and stable home for children who will have a range of emotional and behavioural needs? The training we provide is stimulating and interesting  – working in therapeutic foster care means no two days will ever be alike.

More information is available on 020 8427 3355 or our National line 0330 311 2845 relating to fostering opportunities we have right now in London, Hampshire, Birmingham and Manchester.

Look out for us on social media and add hashtags #fostercare  #fostering #children #foster parents when you comment. This is very helpful in spreading awareness of the great work done by foster carers and the urgent need to recruit more. Remember also, a visit to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page our website will pay dividends.

Other pages you might wish to visit on our web site: And an interesting blog from our archive is – and a visit to the Frequently Asked Questions section our website will pay dividends.

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