A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a conference held at Bath Spa University on Attachment and Trauma in Schools. the university along with Bath and North East Somerset County Council have been working together to create attachment aware schools. It was wonderful to listen to the speakers share their passion about the importance of attachment and how schools can help.
Having learnt about the importance of attachment and how trauma in children affects their learning and emotional growth during our adoption preparation, I have gone on to actively seek out as much information as I can, reading books such as The Primal Wound, Bubble Wrapped Children and the Science of Parenting I have sought out media articles that highlight the new research investigating how trauma can have a huge impact on the develpoment of children in our society. I have attended therapeutic parenting courses run by followers of Dan Hughes and I have tried and tried to share that knowledge with those around me, particularily in school. I have found the lack of interest or desire in teachers to even give much more than a cursory glance my way disheartening. And I honestly believe that this is because I am viewed as "just" a mum, who is over protective of her youngest child. So I now back every theory I share with specific research to show that it's not me just talking rubbish.
Whilst on the conference I found that my basic background knowledge into trauma was far superior to the many teachers, school leaders and teacher assistants who attended. I have a better grasp of how the brain develops and why some children struggle in school. With the knowledge I also understand that for our traumatised children to achieve in school we need to change how we talk to them. I was shocked and saddened that all the research and knowledge that is only a few clicks away using the Internet is pretty much unknown by many of those who are working in our education system.
When I listened to those who have heard, who have understood, share their stories of success in helping children in schools using therapeutic methods and emotion training I felt that the sun had come out but, it's not happening everywhere, this conference was shouting from the roof tops about "Play, Love, Acceptance,Curiosity and Empathy" it was showing that these new methods were changing lives. In Stoke On Trent an area full of children living in poverty, a council who have suffered huge financial cut backs have by using therapeutic methods reduced Behaviour incidents by 80%, violence in schools by 50% and have not permanently excluded a looked after child in the last 6 years. Absolutely EVERYONE who talked about attachment and supporting children with that as the central theme talked positively.
Tony Clifford shared a wonderful analogy. If a child comes into school with a nut allergy, every member of staff, including the lunch time staff will be trained in what to do in the event that the child comes into contact with nuts and parents will be asked not to send any nut related products in lunch boxes. Schools have the same responsibility to look after traumatised children, these children will be the runners and if they do go into flight mode nothing will keep them in a school setting, not fences or gates and if they can get out then they are at as much risk as the child with a nut allergy.
We need our schools to understand the importance in using new ways of educating children, they are not all the same and we HAVE to ensure that they feel safe before we can look at academia. The government are certainly aware that there are issues, which is why all looked after children are eligible to claim pupil premium and the new adoption fund has been released to support traumatised children should they need it. None of this will help our children achieve their potential if our educators don't understand trauma or worse don't realise that it exists. It still remains for the parents to educate them and I am finding that really really hard.