Exclusive: ‘Schools should be judged on how they support vulnerable pupils’

 60% of teachers say they’ve had no relevant training on the needs of children who have experienced trauma, says new report

Linda Graham says schools need to address the root causes of bad behaviour

Schools should be held to account for the way they support their most vulnerable students – not just on “stellar exam results,” says a leading charity

Adoption UK will publish a report on Monday urging a “radical rethink in the way schools are judged,” and criticising Ofsted’s new framework for school inspections.

Adoption UK policy advisor and report author Becky White said: “Many schools with stellar exam results do a very bad job for their most vulnerable pupils. No school should be rated outstanding unless it is outstanding for all its students.

“But in the current environment, it takes a very brave head teacher to invest as much in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and complex students as they do in chasing exam results.”

Despite Ofsted releasing its new draft inspections framework, and acknowledging the need for a broader curriculum and less focus on exam results, the charity says it has some significant concerns about the new framework, including its approach to behaviour management.

It says three-quarters of adopted children have suffered significant trauma such as abuse and neglect in their birth families, which can have a lasting impact on their ability to learn as well as their mental and physical health.

Also contributing to the report is Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, who said: “In some schools, pupils are valued almost wholly for their academic attainment. Children who have had a tough start in life, for whatever reason, find it more difficult to get into these schools, and if they do, soon find that their personal needs are not being met.”

Another contributor is Tes columnist and teacher of 18 years Jarlath O’Brien, who said: “Over the years as a teacher I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, how schools can hinder the chances of children who have experienced trauma. Supporting these children is a matter of education and support, not retribution and punishment.’

Other contributors include Jules Daulby, an inclusion and literacy specialist and a national leader for WomenEd; Professor Tony Gallagher, Dean of Research at Queen’s University Belfast; Nicky Murray, Head Teacher of Burnside Primary School in Carnoustie, Scotland; Dr Elizabeth Gregory, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with over twenty years’ experience working with Child and Family services in the NHS in Wales.

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