The aims of the resource:
This Teachers TV programme aims to highlight the importance of equality of access to out-of-hours learning for looked after children and its important benefits across a range of outcomes and to highlight to teachers key issues that teachers may not be aware of, in relation to the provision of out-of-hours learning for this group of children.
Key findings or focus:
The local authority consultant makes a powerful argument for the importance of equalising access to out of school learning for looked after children and the benefits of such activities. The concept of corporate parenting is alluded to which is based on the premise that birth parents are advocates for the well being and success of their children. They do their best for their children. For looked after children, professionals need to have regard to this role. This is not to say that teachers should become surrogate parents but that they should be aware of potential occasions when looked after children might not be benefiting from the opportunities afforded in the broader life of the school. This is particularly important for looked after children in that they are also likely to move between schools more often than their peers.
In the programme, children and carers discuss the benefits of out of school hours learning. These include improved self-confidence, academic abilities, interpersonal skills, communication skills, raised expectations and the opportunity to make friendships with other children in the local community. Issues raised for teachers include communicating out of hours learning opportunities to designated teacher for looked after children in the school, allowing flexible joining times for such activities to include these children, being aware that permission to join out of hours activities takes longer for them to obtain.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
Although much of this evidence comes from a small sample (3 children and their carers) the stories they tell make a persuasive argument for the benefits of ensuring that looked after children have access to such activities.
The recent report by the charity 4children has highlighted the perceived lack of out of school spaces and activities for all children. For looked after children this is exacerbated by poor uptake of these opportunities; yet this programme reports the advantages for three children that would in turn enhance their school experience.
The supporting resources in the evidence file on the site provide a broader canvas of statistical information supporting the information provided by the LA officer and make a further compelling argument for the importance of raised awareness of this issue. Looked After Children have generally not done well in school. This is supported by a wide range of evidence and guidance from across the UK. As a teacher you will want to explore why this is so and to what extent the suggested measures can be best harnessed to enable more successful outcomes.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact:
This would fit well within a professional studies/generic educational studies component of ITE. It has a strong relationship to Every Child Matters and the personalised learning agenda. It is therefore very important for teacher trainers to be aware of the role of the designated teacher within the school and other professional enabling the participation and achievement of looked after children.
This is an example of positive proactive provision across agencies that may avoid disaffection and consequent difficulties in school.
The relevance to ITE students. - how and why it has importance:
There are clear issues raised for teachers who provide out of hours learning activities in schools and implications for the ways in which they can contribute to equalising access to such activities for their looked after pupils. This is clearly linked to the Every Child Matters outcomes that form part of the current inspection schedule and, aside, from moral reasons, is an important issue for ITE students. From my own subject perspective of Music for example, it is significant as this subject often provides significant out of hours learning opportunities.
This video provides an insight into important issues of educational equality and social justice. Looked after children have a right to the same educational experiences out of school hours as their peers. The video facilitates consideration of ways in which this can be achieved. Teacher trainers and students might like to consider how they will address these issues in their future careers.
Dr Ruth Wright