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AFC - Previously looked-after children
AfC Virtual School

Previously Looked-After Children

Support and advice for previously looked-after children's parents, guardians and schools

Schools and Teachers

What is the AfC Virtual School offer for schools and teachers for children looked-after and children previously looked-after?

The remit of AfC Virtual School is to promote the educational achievement of children looked-after and previously looked-after children and young people across Richmond, Kingston and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. For children looked-after, AfC Virtual School acts as a corporate parent, ensuring that children and young people are placed in the best possible educational setting for them. If you have a question or need information about a child looked-after in your school, please call contact the assistant head teacher for your area.

Francis Markall is responsible for the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, Sairah Shah for RBWM and Clare Farley for Kingston-upon-Thames. Their email addresses are; and 

We also have information and resources for schools with children looked-after on roll on our AfC Virtual School website.

As a Virtual School we do not have a statutory duty to assist parents or guardians of previously looked-after children to select schools. In fact, we are not permitted to recommend individual schools. However we are able to provide guidance, advice and signposting for parents and to Designated Teachers  about school admissions, exclusions, funding, transitions between schools, years groups or classes and any other educational matters. You will find these at the left hand side of this page. This website is tailored specifically to providing information about previously looked-after children as legislation, funding and some other aspects of educational provision are different from those for children looked-after. 

AfC also offers comprehensive training courses about SEND. Follow this link to the training site for up-to-date details of new courses

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions for improvements to this site or for resources that you would like to see here or to share with others, please get in touch with

We recognise that the majority of children who are adopted have been removed from their birth families because they have experienced trauma and neglect. This is a message that we share with schools and other professional agencies across and beyond AfC to ensure that everyone who works with previously looked after children is sensitive to their individual needs. 

Since September 2020, we  have offered a certificated training programme in schools across Richmond, Kingston and RBWM for schools in attachment awareness. 

Supporting the well-being of previously looked after children and young people

Due to the pressures of their early lives and complex needs, adopted children are far more likely than their peers to have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) and to attend specialist provisions (Gore, Langton & Boy, 2017). About 40% of adopted children will experience significant emotional and behaviour challenges (Biehal et al., 2010). 

In their report, Bridging the gap: giving adopted children an equal chance in school adoption UK (2018) Adoption UK conducted a survey of emotional wellbeing at school. Almost 4,000 adoptive parents and children responded.

  • 79 per cent of children who responded feel routinely ‘confused and worried at school’;

  • Almost 70 percent of parents who responded feel their child’s progress in learning is affected by problems with their emotional wellbeing in school;

  • Almost three quarters of young respondents agreed: “Other children seem to enjoy school more than me”;

  • Two thirds of secondary age children who responded said they felt bullied at school for being adopted;

  • Three quarters of young respondents said they did not feel their teachers understand how to support them.

Adoption UK's latest report, The Adoption Barometer (July 2019) notes that adopted children in England are 20 times more likely to be permanently excluded than their peers; that 44% of adopted children have diagnosed social, emotional and mental health needs; and that they were almost 8 times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their peers. 

You can download The Adoption Barometer as a pdf at the foot of this page.

An information leaflet for adoptive parents, special guardians and carers is available as a pdf at the foot of this page.