How do school leaders protect and promote the wellbeing of pupils and staff when it is evident that some children have come through, and may be continuing to live with, serious adversity and trauma? Challenging behaviour and disruptions to teaching and learning threaten the wellbeing and safety of children, teachers and SNAs.
This course will help school leaders and learning support co-ordinators to understand how adverse childhood experiences and trauma impact on learning, behaviour and relationships at school.
Given that many schools will now be preparing to receive Ukrainian refugee children who have suffered the trauma of war, displacement and separation from family members, we will address how a trauma-informed school can understand the likely impact of these experiences on their behaviour, learning and relationships. We will also explore together some clear, simple strategies that can support nurturing connections and a sense of belonging for these pupils. These will be framed within a coherent, whole-school approach that aims to support the total school community, promote teacher confidence and make a positive difference to the Ukrainian children.
Not all children respond successfully to behaviour-focused management strategies. We have found that looking at behaviour as communication and understanding it with a ‘trauma-informed lens’ can be a more effective way of helping both children and the adults working with them to develop more positive relationships and to increase learning.
Understanding our own responses to stress and teaching challenges helps us to regulate our own behaviour so that we can respond in more effective and compassionate ways to the needs of our students. Trauma-informed strategies decrease the use of negative sanctions, encourage more nurturing relationships and cultivate a school culture that is safe and supportive for all pupils and staff.
This course is aimed at school leaders and SEN co-ordinators who are working to develop whole school trauma-informed and attachment-aware practice and policy.
Anne McCluskey is a former primary school principal with long experience in educational disadvantage. She has been delivering training to teachers in this area since 2016. She has a particular interest in attachment theory and learning and in the educational experience and outcomes of children in state care.
Dr Mary Gordon is an educational and child psychologist who worked in NEPS for 27 years with primary and post-primary schools and with Youthreach centres. She has a particular interest in child development, social and emotional learning and the neuroscience underpinning behaviour, emotion and social interaction.