All schoolchildren adopted from care are to benefit from £20 million of additional pupil premium money to get the support they need to thrive at school - helping around an extra 10,000 pupils, the government has announced.
The extension of the funding, worth £1,900 per pupil, will help to close the attainment gap and transform pupil’s future life chances across England. Previously, only children adopted from care since 30 December 2005 were eligible.
Children adopted from care do not perform as well as their classmates at school. 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.
The government also announced today that 29 councils and voluntary adoption agencies are being given the green light to allow people approved to adopt to search the national Adoption Register from this September. The pilot will allow approved adopters to learn more about the children who are waiting for a loving, stable home. They will be able to find out about their hobbies, likes and dislikes, and hear them speak and laugh in videos and pictures.
Opening up the register is designed to ensure that children are placed more quickly with families who can give them the stability and security they deserve. Strict safeguards will be put in place to ensure the safety and privacy of children and approved adopters.
Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, who has 2 adopted brothers, 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. Extending the pupil premium to all children adopted will mean they get support they need from day one at school, no matter what their starting point in life.
"Opening up the Adoption Register, allowing parents approved to adopt to see videos and pictures, to hear the children speak and laugh - while keeping in place the strictest safeguards - will give them a greater role in the process and ensure more children are placed with their new family much more quickly.
Sir Martin Narey, government adviser on adoption, said: "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.
"I warmly applaud the decision to open the register to adopters. More children desperately in need of an adoptive home will now find that home earlier."
Last year saw a record 15% increase in adoptions and these announcements, which build on this success, are part of a package of new measures that have come into force today - including:
removing barriers to successful matches by ensuring ethnicity is not prioritised by councils and adoption agencies over other factors - such as the ability to provide a loving, stable home
placing new rules on councils to actively consider fostering for adoption places where appropriate - allowing children to move in with their potential new adoptive family much earlier
putting a new legal duty on all councils to tell adopters about the assistance and support available to them - including access to priority schools admissions for their children, the pupil premium plus, and 15 hours of free early years education for 2-year-olds
Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, said: "I welcome opening the register to approved adopters. We need to trust adopters more in deciding which children they can offer a stable and loving home. It will help more children find a permanent family more quickly."