Donation will help adopted children make the most of their education

At least 70 adopted children with complex needs from across the South East of England will be given help and support in taking full advantage of their education, thanks to a grant of £29,800 from Berkshire Freemasons to the charity Parents And Children Together (PACT).

Many adopted children have been removed from their birth families after experiencing significant trauma and neglect. This can often have a severe impact on their performance at school, many children can exhibit disruptive or potentially violent behaviour, or can have an inability to focus in class and feel overwhelmed. They may become the victim of bullying, less so the perpetrator, and can often have difficulties in forming or maintaining friendships with other children because they stand out, quite subtly, as different.

Adopted children are 20 times more likely to be excluded from schools. Adoption UK confirms 65 per cent of adopters think their school fails to understand the impact of their child’s background on their mental health, and ability to engage, learn, and achieve their potential.

Adoption UK’s report shows that 80 per cent of adoptees feel confused or worried at school, with two thirds being bullied and 19 per cent feeling their final exam results were not a fair reflection of their abilities.

One adopted child being helped by PACT is Isabelle, 14, who believes PACT’s intervention with her school has given her education a real boost. Isabelle’s mum, Paula, said:

“PACT has been pivotal in keeping school structures around us. They’ve helped put multi-disciplinary meetings in place where decisions were made collectively and much faster.”

PACT’s Specialist Education project was developed in response to an increasing number of PACT families desperately seeking advice and support to understand their adopted children’s behaviour, address negative school experiences, and reduce discrimination of adopted children. 73 per cent of requests from PACT adopters are for education support.

The programme will be delivered by PACT’s Specialist Education Worker who operates as a link between schools and the families of adopted children. She meets with parents, the child and school to get a full understanding of the issues, then reviews policies and conducts teacher training to raise awareness of the effects of early life trauma, and suggests things the school can do to help the child feel safe and secure, and enjoy their learning. This vital support can save an adoption and transform a child’s life. The charity’s latest impact data shows that 100 per cent of parents agree that since their referral, their child has had improved educational experiences at school or nursery.

PACT is an adoption charity and support provider which helps hundreds of families each year through outstanding adoption services and specialist therapeutic support. Based in Reading with services across south east England, PACT fundraises to provide enhanced adoption support services to all its families for life.

PACT (rated Ofsted ‘Outstanding’) is one of the largest Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAA) in the UK, placing 79 children with loving and permanent families in 2022. PACT is part of the CVAA, a national organisation comprising 27 VAAs.

The grant from Berkshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Natausha van Vliet, PACT’s chief executive, said: “We’re very grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help at least 70 adopted children and their families through what are so often hugely difficult experiences at school. The work with families and schools can do an enormous amount to make a vulnerable child feel safe and secure and start to enjoy their learning.”

Iain Marnock OBE from Berkshire Freemasons, said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support PACT’s outstanding specialist education project which does wonderful work with adopted children who are so often traumatised by neglect and abuse. This vital support can save an adoption and transform a child’s life.”

Image shows Iain Marnock OBE from Berkshire Freemasons with Isabelle’s mother, Paula.