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All posts for the month January, 2014

Pupil Premium Plus & School Training

Published January 27, 2014 by thefamilyof5

There’s been quite a few things going on in school lately, I might blog about some of the specifics another time but the biggest change right now is that our head teacher has announced they’re leaving soon. This left me feeling unsure of who to talk about certain matters that I wished to discuss. After a telephone chat with the head teacher we decided that the best plan is that I should put together a letter that could be presented to the board of govenors at their next finance meeting with regard to the Pupil Premium Plus and all other matters could be discussed directly with class teachers, I do have some other things that are not appropriate to discuss with class teachers but I also feel it would be somewhat pointless to discuss these with a head teacher that is leaving, so those matters I will mentally shelf until a replacement head teacher is appointed.

Any way, I know many of you adopters are currently struggling to discuss with schools plans for the the pupil premium plus for your children, so I thought I’d share my letter with you, perhaps it might help, I only wrote it tonight so you lot are the first to see it!

MY LETTER: (some personal details have been changed/removed to protect identity’s)

For the attention of : Board of Governors

Dear Sirs,

In Oct 2013 the government announced plans to introduce the new Pupil Premium Plus which will run along side the existing Pupil Premium. The purpose of pupil premium funding is to close the attainment gaps between vulnerable children and their peers. Up until recently the children entitled to the Pupil Premium were those entitled to free school meals and looked after children. However, the government is now realising that children adopted from care, looked after children and those who leave care under a special guardianship order or residence order are in need of additional support. The government has acknowledged that their need for support is in fact greater than those children entitled to the Pupil Premium and this is now reflected with the higher rate of Pupil Premium Plus.

As a parent of 3 vulnerable adopted children I would like to propose a suggestion on how part of the £5700 Pupil Premium Plus allocated to them is used to benefit my children and other children within school.

I enclose details of onsite training that is offered by a local company experienced in trauma and attachment. Although aimed at those working with looked-after and adopted children, it also covers a range of other children who may be considered ‘vulnerable’, ‘at risk’ or ‘in need’. For example this could be children who are currently experiencing neglect or abuse, children who’s parents have separated, children who have witnessed/are witnessing domestic violence, children with serious medical conditions who have spent a substantial amount of time in hospital, children who have experienced one off trauma’s (eg: car accident, house fire, etc..). Therefore it is hoped that each member of staff attending the course will be able to relate the training to at least one child they are working with, but it is often many more. Also at a time when the government is attempting to provide better support to looked-after, adopted and disadvantaged children, a clear understanding of these children is needed in order to provide the most suitable support.

I feel that £600 of the £5700 pupil premium plus would be wisely spent and be of great advantage to all staff and hugely beneficial to the children within school.

I enclose various articles and supporting literature for your perusal.
Kindest regards,

Mrs Familyof5

CC Head Teacher
Local authority Virtual Head

I enclosed with this letter some sales literature from a local company that offer onsite school training, if you don’t know of an organisation within your area then Adoption UK offer training days countrywide.

I also enclosed a print out of the governments press release from last year, this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/100-million-to-support-the-education-of-children-in-care

And finally I enclosed an article about attachment, trauma and education that was published in SEN Magazine which can be found here: https://www.senmagazine.co.uk/articles/articles/senarticles/examining-the-severe-challenges-facing-those-with-attachment-issues-and-how-to-support-these-children-in-the-classroom

You will see that I posted a copy to the Virtual Head at our local authority. This is because their role will have been expanded and they are now expected to work with schools to manage the pupil premium plus and ensure that the money is spent on securing the best educational support and services for children. My hope is that they will also see the benefit of training and support my suggestion.

Teachers aren’t given training on attachment and trauma as part of their qualifying training, some teachers don’t even know what attachment is never mind the importance it plays in a child’s ability to learn and grow, therefore, if they don’t understand our children’s specific needs, how can they be expected to support them. I strongly believe that specialist attachment training should be mandatory for all teachers/schools.

Now we wait…………………

I’ve linked this blog up with #WASO (Weekly Adoption Shout out) over at The Adoption Social, pay them a visit, meet the bloggers and read lots of great adoption blogs

Social Networking…………

Published January 24, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I’ve been doing a spot of blog maintenance lately, you know updating links and stuff, and I became aware that the reason I haven’t done any for so long is because I rarely use my Laptop, and the reason I don’t use my laptop that often is because I’m addicted to my Blackberry, especially the Facebook part of it!

It occurred to me that some of you might be the same, and whilst I have the following information here on my blog, its possible that you cant see everything via your ‘apps’.

So, just in case, I’m sharing my Facebook and Twitter contact details here, you might prefer to follow my blog on those or find it easier to communicate with me that way. Please don’t stop visiting my blog though, I love checking my stats, highlight of my life I tell you!

I’m always on Facebook, its my life line to the outside world!!

My dedicated facebook blog page doesn’t get that much ‘action’ at the moment so I’m hoping this will help change that. I do also use twitter, but I confess to being somewhat of a twit, as in, I don’t ‘get it’, it confuses me and I find I ‘miss’ stuff too easily on there, but I try my best!

Anyway, here goes, please come join me:

https://www.facebook.com/thefamilyoffive

@TheFamilyofFive

Familyof5@live.co.uk

All of these applications are linked to my Blackberry giving me instant updates, and as my phone is never more that 5 centimeters away from my hand, I tend to reply pretty quick, unless I’m sleeping!

SMA – Some Mummy’s Adopted

Published January 24, 2014 by thefamilyof5

The new SMA baby milk TV advert really irritates me. I don’t know why. But just for fun I wrote this:

SMA advert:

You don’t have to sit an exam, you’ve no experience, but the jobs still yours, you learn as you go, doing whatever it takes.

Take it from us, your doing great.

Adoption version:

You have to attend training before a panel will approve your application, your required to have previous experience before the job’s yours, you learn how hard it really is as you go, doing what ever it takes.

Take it from us, your doing great.

Adoption in the Media

Published January 22, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I love that Adoption is getting so much media attention at the moment, I really hope it makes a difference to all the children still waiting for their forever family.

I am however a little concerned about the children featured in the programmes/news reports.

Their identity as a looked after child has been revealed. Were they asked about it? Would it have been so difficult to blur out faces?

My girls were interviewed and filmed by Channel 4 in the UK as part of an adoption themed documentary (maybe it was last weeks Finding Mum & Dad who knows). When we were matched with them we were asked if we’d like their participation to continue. We said no.

Our girls have decided for themselves that for now, their adoption is not something they wish their school friends to know about.

If the documentary they were filmed for had included them, there is a chance that the parents at their school may have seen/identified them as former Looked After Children.

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The children featured in ‘Finding Mum & Dad’ won’t necessarily be able to make the choice to keep their adopted or looked after status to themselves. I think it’s unfair to force this decision on these already vulnerable children.

What are your thoughts?

Things that matter.

Published January 21, 2014 by thefamilyof5

There are so many things that we were unprepared for, but in all honesty, I’m not sure how we could have prepared ourselves any better.

We read the books, we met with other adopters, we researched and we listened to our social worker.

But there are somethings that no one could have prepared us for, not really.

I want to write today about the losses and changes that we would face ourselves, not the loss of hopes and dreams of a birth child, because for us, this wasn’t an issue. I’m referring to the losses and changes within our lives, it sounds dramatic I know but so many things have changed over the years and it hasn’t all been good. We’ve lost many friends along this journey, people who we once considered to be our closest friends we now call strangers. Some couldn’t handle the hard truths about adoption. Some just didn’t understand that we were so busy regulating our kids that we were unable to come to their hyped up play dates. Some just drifted, I have no explanation for those and they probably make me feel the most sad. Some lost interest in us, I guess we became boring over time, the predictability and routine of our lives now does take some getting used to, I guess it’s the same when you have a child by birth. Suddenly you stop drinking in wine bars, swap your stilettos for comfy slippers and share more In common with other parents at ‘stay & play’ and the health clinic. For us though, with older children being placed there was no ‘play & stay’, there was no health visitor never mind a health clinic so rather than swapping our friends, we just lost them.

Then there’s family, inevitably your relationship with family members changes, suddenly you become a parent of an older child and possibly have to deal with things that some family members who have had children by birth, haven’t got round to yet. Like school, friendships/peers, spellings, math, tooth brushing, the tooth fairy, toileting, you get the idea. Then there is all the attachmenty type stuff, the control battles, the loss the trauma and even the most enthusiastic friend or relative just wont ‘get it’, you have to ‘live it’ to ‘get it’ I’ve learned.
So family can respond in different ways. There’s the ones with children of their own that go in to a panic and fear for their own children’s status within the family. The ones that try to over compensate and completely freak out your kids with their over the top fake attention and affection. The ones that aren’t sure how to ‘be’ and inevitably end up rejecting you as a family. The ones that don’t really consider these ‘new’ children to be part of the family. And of course the ones that already have children (or not) and know ‘everything’ and make it their job to tell you what your doing wrong. Even with the ones who manage the new arrivals well, the relationship between you changes. Your no longer just their sister, aunt, niece, daughter, cousin, your a parent, and that changes things.

The relationship between your partner changes too, they’re no longer just your wife/husband, they’re also the parent of your child/ren. You hold new expectations for them within your relationship and new expectations for yourself. The person you are used to being intimate with, suddenly looks less sexy and more ‘dad’ or ‘mom’ like and that takes a bit of getting used to, there is no post pregnancy glow or aura, just mental exhaustion and needy children. The dynamics of your whole family changes, suddenly there are more people to consider when planning a trip or lunch or even bedtime, there’s no more helping yourself to a chocolate biscuit from the barrel unless your prepared to share with the beady eyes that will suddenly appear, and they will appear, I promise you, like cats to a tin opener, kids will appear as if by magic the minute you so much as approach the biscuit tin.

Then there’s your role within the family, there’s no more coming in from work and chilling on the sofa for 10 minutes, its go go go! There’s homework to oversee, reading to be listened to, after school clubs to be taxi’d, dinner to be prepared, children to be bathed, bedtime routines to be put in place, uniforms to get prepared etc etc etc and there is a lot of etc’s I assure you, so who does what, how do you decide when its thrust upon you over night and in the middle of all of that you still need to find the time to spend with your child, to love them, nurture them and help them ‘belong’.

Car journeys need to be planned, toilet breaks factored in, snacks and entertainment thought through. Visits to family and friends need to be well planned, what will the child/ren have to keep them entertained, pack sugar free drinks you dont want a sugar rush happening in someone else’s lounge, pack the wet wipes (yes even older kids get messy), working out if the visit will overlap a meal time, and if so how will that be tackled, if there are food/eating issues that can be tricky. Going to a busy place can be a problem for hyper vigilant children, there is just too much to listen to and watch out for. So that small dark and busy pub you used to eat in or that popular resort you liked to holiday in, could just be too much for them to handle.

Then those times when you casually flick the tv on during the news report and don’t realise until its already been heard by little ears, that the days headlines involve murder, rape, child abuse. Or worst still, its one of those programmes where people with no shame air their dirty laundry on tv, you know the ones, ‘I found My baby momma and my mom in bed with a giraffe’ or some equally absurd headline, all of which will need to be explained. Thank god for catch up TV I say because these days you really don’t know what your going to be presented with when you switch on that tv, but a long long time ago in a life a million miles away from this one, it didn’t matter, and neither did any of that other stuff.

In that life things were different. There was a much slower pace and less planning. I didn’t need a diary to keep track of appointments and school events, in fact I didn’t need a diary. I miss some of that. I miss the spontaneity. I miss the relationships that were lost along the way. I miss the ideals I’d hoped for for family life. I miss trashy tv. I miss just being a daughter, wife, sister, cousin, niece. There are no training groups that can prepare you for these losses.

I don’t miss everything about that life, because in that life no one called me ‘mummy’.

Always something there to remind you……………..

Published January 12, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Last night Mr Familyof5 and I were given a rare opportunity to go out, just us, no kids!

We chose a meal at our local Frankie & Benny’s. We go there often in the day time with the girls, they love it.

It was a really lovely evening, we ate far too much delicious food and chatted about all sorts, I was also impressed that we didn’t spend the entire evening talking about the girls like I’d anticipated, I did however think about them the entire time.

Yum!

This was totally yum!

We’d booked our table for 8pm. I noticed as soon as we arrived that there were a number of families with children in the restaurant. I’m used to seeing children enjoying a meal in Frankie & Benny’s, but that’s usually in the day time so I was quite surprised to see so many there, whilst my own children were at home in bed.

Whilst chatting to Mr Familyof5 I couldn’t help watching these children, children of ages ranging from around 3 to 12 I estimated. They didn’t have the complementary activity packs that my girls usually demand, busy themselves with, perhaps they’re only for the day time!? They didn’t have toys to entertain them, they weren’t clung to an adult demanding their undivided attention in the absence of some sort of toy or activity, they were not rolling around on the bench in their booth or rocking manically on their chair in desperate boredom. I heard no whinging, or moaning or bickering. They were content to sit and chat to their family. No one cried, no one got told off and no one died of boredom!

Example of the brilliant activity packs!

Example of the brilliant activity packs!

When we left I pointed out to Mr Familyof5 how I felt quite sad because as lovely as it was to see these happy and content children enjoying an evening meal, it reminded me how such a late night meal would not have been possible with our girls.

I discovered that i don't like cinnamon chocolate waffles :(

I discovered that I don’t like cinnamon chocolate waffles 😦

Mr Familyof5 wisely pointed out to me that tomorrow morning, unlike our girls after a late night, most of these children would not be awake at the crack of dawn and spend the entire day tired, bickering and crying, they’d most likely sleep in, even if only for a little bit and more importantly he reminded me that none of these children felt the need to busy themselves with activity packs, toys, endless nonsense chatter, noise and pointless questions in order to avoid the chaotic and difficult thoughts inside their heads.

There’s always something there to remind me how our reality is quite different to other families.

A place for ‘Stuff’ at last!

Published January 11, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Those of you that have followed for a while will know that things were very tough here with baby girl and middle girl sharing a bedroom (those that haven’t been following can click the links below to catch up), we tried everything we could to get them to sleep in the same room but it was not to be. We found our selves at the end of our tether and not knowing what else to do. So we resulted to ‘Plan P’ as we called it and moved middle girl in to our room. Little did we know that a year later she’d still be there.

After lots of tears, lots of heart ache and lots, no millions, of phone calls we finally got some help from the placing authority with a little nudge from Sir Martin Narey, our Knight in Shinning Armour.The placing authority agreed to help us extend our home to have an additional bedroom. We’d been saved.

It took several months for the paper work to be drawn up, you know those solicitors, they like to drag their feet don’t they. Any way, almost a year after middle girl first moved in to our bedroom, in September 2013 our builder arrived and work began. It was the most stressful 12 weeks of my life I can tell you, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a bit of a clean freak, I hate dirt and mess. Fortunately for us, me, we had a good builder, actually he and his team were fantastic and did their best to keep the mess to a minimum.

oakville-mississauga-real-estate-home-improvement

The girls coped surprisingly well too, there was lots of dust, things looked different, smelt different and felt different and then there was all the new faces, the strange and sometimes very loud noises, but they, well we, coped. It was so worth it. 10 days before Christmas the build was complete and we moved the girls in to their rooms, yes you read correctly, I did say 10 days, and yes I have twice as much grey hair as a result.

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I cant tell you the difference its made to our lives. The girls now each have their own spaces, somewhere they can be alone, somewhere they can relax, somewhere they can breath. They’re no longer sharing wardrobes, they’re no longer keeping each other, or better still me, awake at night. They’ve been able to personalise their own rooms and make them their own. They’ve got their ‘stuff’ where they want it and they love it!

But most of all, Baby girl and Middle girl have some space between them, and in this space I intend to grow a bond. Not the traumatic and resentful one they currently have, but a loving bond, a bond that will see them through the tough times ahead.

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We’ve been very lucky to get this help, and the magnitude of this luck has not been lost on us. We are and will continually be eternally grateful for all the help we’ve received.

I’ve linked this post up with this weeks #WASO over at the Adoption Social

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