ACT are pleased to fund two roles in the set up of a new type of children’s home. Emmanuel Akpan-Inwang, once a foster child himself and TeachFirst ambassador is looking to transform children’s residential care in the UK through his social enterprise Lighthouse, which will run children’s homes.
Looked-after children have poor educational outcomes with only one in seven achieving five GCSEs at A*-C – compared with one in two children in the general population.
“I think expectations of children who grow up in care, particularly those in children’s homes, are far too low,” Emmanuel says. Emmanuel agrees that foster care is the best option for most children, but for some children residential care is needed as other options, such as fostering, have been exhausted.
Emmanuel researched the “social pedagogy’” approach to residential care widely used in Germany and Denmark and saw that such poor outcomes are avoidable. Social pedagogy is education in a much broader sense and encompasses everything that you consider to be involved in raising a child. Well trained staff are employed to build relationships, create a home-like environment, and engage young people as equals in activities such as cooking dinner together.
The staff, who are university educated, are trained in understanding the interrelationships between physical, emotional, social and cognitive wellbeing – for example, how emotional problems can impact cognitive development.
Emmanuel believes that employing graduates who are well trained and paid in a way to reflect their skills will reduce the high staff turnover which is common in children’s homes and create a supportive learning environment. Basically, “if you can think of the best that a family would be able to offer to a child in terms of support that’s what we want to provide”.
Emmanuel believes that applying the social pedagogy model into children’s homes in England will not only improve educational outcomes, but that he’ll be able do it without charging more than the current private providers who run children’s homes for profit.
Emmanuel spent the early years of his life in care and attributes many of the opportunities he’s had in life to the stability his foster parents were able to offer.
We believe that Lighthouse can help young people to thrive, access opportunities and transform children’s residential care in the UK. Lighthouse are currently searching for a premises in the South East.