Are you aware of the huge struggle some adopted children face?

Adopted children face many struggles, some that schools may not be aware of.


adopted children


A new report, Bridging the Gap, written by adoptionUK, explores the barriers to educational achievement which impact upon adopted and previously looked-after children. The report draws upon a survey of “more than 2,000 adoptive parents, and nearly 2,000 adopted young people, to explore how effectively their social and emotional wellbeing was supported in school”.

The report outlines that schools and policymakers need to focus on four “gaps” which adopted and previously looked-after children often face. These are:

  • The “Understanding gap”: The report reveals that roughly three-quarters of adopted children have received some form of neglect or abuse throughout their lives. Through professional development, schools need to understand how a “history of abuse, neglect and trauma impacts a child”. The report suggests that this should be reflected in the behaviour policy, with “carrot and stick methods of behaviour management” only useful if “the child is capable of the required behaviour”. Furthermore, with adopted children “20 times more likely to be permanently excluded from school”, schools need to understand that “‘Zero Tolerance’ and ‘No Excuses’ behaviour management policies can be devastating” for adopted children.
  • The “Empathy gap”: Recognising how trauma can make young people “react to everyday events” differently is important. This research reveals that nearly eight in ten adopted young people believe that their peers enjoy school more than them and nearly three-quarters “feel confused and worried at school”. Furthermore, two-thirds have been “teased or bullied” by their peers for being adopted. The report stresses that adopted children sometimes struggle to make meaningful relationships and schools need to approach adopted children with empathy.
  • The “Resources gap”: The researchers stress that schools are facing significant financial pressures. The report calls on the government to “invest in the social and emotional wellbeing of adopted and previously looked-after children”.
  • The “attainment gap”: The report emphasises that data suggests that “adopted children achieve about half as well as their peers in statutory examinations”. However, more needs to be done to “collect and analyse educational outcomes data for previously looked-after” and adopted children to understand the barriers to educational achievement they face.


Were you aware of these barriers? What action can your school take?

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