SafeBase for Schools

Bridging the academic achievement gap between adopted and non-adopted children.

SafeBase for Schools is based on After Adoption’s successful SafeBase Therapeutic Parenting Programme for adopted families. It aims to help schools effectively support young adopted pupils to reach their potential.

Did you know? In 2013, less than half of adopted children reached the expected levels of reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2, compared with 75% of non-adopted children.

We know from listening to young adopted people on our TALKadoption programmes that school can be a particularly difficult time. Recommendations they have provided as part of government consultations include the need for teachers to be ‘more sensitive to the needs of adoptive young people’ and to ‘be given special training to understand more about adoption so they can properly help’.

Adoption UK surveyed 1500 adopters to gain an understanding of the issues adopted children face in school. The report ‘Adopted Children’s Experience of School - April 2014’ found the following:

  • 71% of parents surveyed said their child’s experience of neglect and or abuse in their early life has impacted on their ability to cope in school academically and three quarters (75%) said it has an impact on their child’s social ability in school
  • 80% of adoptive parents represented said their child needs more support than their peers and nearly two thirds (59%) said their child is always trying to catch up in school and make up for their life experiences

Many adopted children who have faced early childhood adversity, including neglect, abuse and multiple losses, find it difficult to trust and build secure attachments. This affects their relationship with fellow pupils and adults, leading to difficulties in school. Therefore teachers and schools have a vital role to play in helping these children emotionally, socially, academically in providing specific support to raise attainment and address their wider needs.

‘SafeBase for Schools’ will inform schools about adoption, its impact on the child, their school and the pupil’s ability to learn. It also aims to educate staff about attachment difficulties, and early life neglect and abuse, and how this shapes brain development and the child’s response to stress and learning capacity. Half day and full day programmes are available according to needs and resources of the school.

Teaching staff will come away understanding the challenges adopted children face and have practical strategies to help these children reach their full potential in the classroom, build friendships, and feel more stable with a strong sense of who they are.

SafeBase for Schools provides practical strategies for support, including:

  • Use of key adults
  • Supporting pupils though transition and change
  • Keeping calm and teaching self-regulation
  • Managing conflict and shame
  • Building friendships
  • Building a bridge between home and school 

Key benefits for schools:

  • Support in meeting Pupil Premium performance indicators and Ofsted inspection requirements
  • Teaching staff more confident in dealing positively with children who have faced early childhood adversity
  • Ability to respond appropriately to children’s needs and behaviours
  • Improvement in children’s learning and development
  • Improved classroom management and reduction in disruptive behaviours

Key benefits for children:

  • Child feels more supported
  • Child is happier and more stable, better able to learn and progress
  • Child has improved sense of identity and confidence


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