Praise for the positive impact of The Fostering Network’s Education Champions
The Fostering Network’s innovative Education Champions have recently been praised for their positive impact in an external evaluation report. The evaluation recommended that the Champion role, created as part of the London Fostering Achievement (LFA) programme, should be implemented more widely and The Fostering Network is delighted to be seeking services to partner with to develop this further and raise the educational outcomes and aspirations of looked after children.
Two foster carers were recruited, trained and employed for four hours a week to be Education Champions in each of five London boroughs. The LFA evaluation found that the Education Champions were a key source of information about the educational support and services available to foster carers and the young people they care for. Even those foster carers who described themselves as very well informed reported that the Education Champions had given them new information or more clarity, thereby empowering foster carers to better carry out their role. Words used to describe the Education Champions included ‘knowledgeable, passionate, inspiring and approachable.’
Education Champions are experienced foster carers, often with a background in education, who work with foster carers to boost their confidence around supporting educational needs by, for example, attending meetings with them, working with them and their foster child at home on reading or maths or helping them to navigate the educational system.
One of the Education Champions was Mohamed Serroukh of whom The Lewisham Children’s Social Care team said: ‘During Mohamed's time as an Education Champion for the London borough of Lewisham, he demonstrated passion, drive, dedication and commitment through working closely with the virtual school team. He also represented as well as worked alongside foster carers to share and address issues of concern in relation to the education of children in their care. This collaboration has enabled our foster carers to further actively demonstrate their role in supporting the educational achievements of our looked after children'.
Melissa Green, director of operations at The Fostering Network, said: ‘London Fostering Achievement has been a significant programme for The Fostering Network, and we are delighted that the role of Education Champions has been highlighted as a very positive outcome from the programme.
‘The role of foster carers as “first educators” is becoming increasingly important, particularly as we seek to help fostered young people aim higher and achieve more, but foster carers do need support in this role. Education Champions listen to foster carers’ concerns and needs, provide peer support and encourage other carers to be more proactive regarding their foster children’s education. This is why we are so eager to roll out Education Champions across the country, especially given their relatively low cost.
‘Along with our work in London on Designated Teacher Hubs, the roll-out of Education Champions will be a fitting legacy from the London Fostering Achievement programme as the evaluation of LFA says that Education Champions could help to retain foster carers, lower school exclusions and increase young people’s progress at school – and we believe that fostered children across the whole country deserve to feel the benefit of these improvements.’
Please contact us to find out more about having Education Champions in your area. You can read the full evaluation of London Fostering Achievement at https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/london_fostering_achievement_evaluation_final_report.pdf