All children adopted from care will be the beneficiaries of a £20m Pupil Premium fund designed to bridge the performance gap between adopted children and their peers.
The extension of the scheme, announced by the government this week, is set to help around an extra 10,000 pupils and be worth around £1,900 for each student. The changes mean children adopted before 2005 will now be included in the Pupil Premium.
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.
Ministers have pledged to help schools provide tailored support to raise the attainment of all adopted children, which could include additional catch up sessions or specialist training for staff working with adopted children.
Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK, has campaigned for this change. “We congratulated the government when it introduced the Pupil Premium for adopted children, but pointed out that equity did not exist for those adopted before December 2005.
“We have been working hard on behalf of our members and supporters to change what was an unfair cut-off date disadvantaging those older adopted children who often need the most support,” he said.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “A child’s needs don’t change overnight just because they are adopted. It is vital that these vulnerable children are given the right support they need and the education they deserve to help them get on in life.”
The government also announced that, from September, 29 local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies are going to pilot a method that would allow people approved to adopt to search the national adoption register.
Opening up the adoption register will allow prospective adoptive parents a greater role in the process, Timpson said, and ensure more children are placed with their new family much more quickly.
Sir Martin Narey, government adviser on adoption, applauded the decision. “Sometimes adopter-led matching leads to the adoption of children for whom hope of adoption has almost been abandoned. In their search for a child, adopters sometimes feel a chemistry that makes a child who might not otherwise have been considered for them, seem right to them.”
As of 1 June 2014, there were 1,345 children and 747 adoptive families on the adoption register, official figures show.