Reflections on attachment training in my school
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Duncan Roberts, head teacher of Maple Cross Primary School, Hertfordshire, presented a webinar on 26 March 2018 outlining his school’s involvement in attachment training.
Duncan outlined his schools’ context and leadership non-negotiables before explaining how these feed into the importance of relationships in the learning environment, and how that has been emphasised in his school to help children’s progress. When introduced to the idea of becoming an attachment aware school, Duncan explained that the approach challenged some current ways of working, but they could see how this knowledge base would influence positive change for his school and community.
Areas of noticeable impact
Included a calmer school environment, fewer behaviour incidents, and pupils more ready to learn in the classroom. These kind of changes were not limited to the school environment. He and the staff at school also supported parents to get some understanding of attachment awareness that could be used at home.
Parent feedback has been positive – relationships at home have improved and situations are dealt with at home differently and aligned with approaches in school.
Duncan discussed the challenges that were met along the way in the efforts to develop an attachment aware approach across the school with all staff.
These included engaging reluctant staff or those who might be resistant at first. Also balancing the needs of the whole school along with what you’d like to be able to achieve for just a few.
The webinar session prompted discussion in some related areas:
engagement within academy school groups; reaching parents who might be harder to help; issues of engaging all staff in larger secondary schools with more departmentalisation in subject areas and levels of leadership to adopt new approaches; attachment and trauma aware mentor schools; and ‘Education Champion’ foster carers (a Fostering Network initiative through which experienced foster carers support other foster carers on educational issues and activities).
Questions were raised on how one might manage to get a whole academy group to work in an aligned way for all the pupils in all the schools.
One example was shared by a participant who had engagement from the academy CEO who was supporting whole day training across all schools on the topic of attachment and trauma in schools.
Reaching parents was discussed in terms of removing barriers to accessing new information. For example, using straightforward language, the timing of sessions for after work hours, and making it relevant to home and school so the link is obvious.
Issues of managing to bring the whole staff body on board were raised, in particular in the context of secondary schools where there tends to be larger staff body. One key aspect discussed was the importance of the most senior leaders being seen to be on message and consistent.
In terms of experienced schools that might mentor others, it was acknowledged that some regions and some schools are more advanced in their understanding and application of attachment awareness in the school environment. The idea of those schools with more experience supporting others who are newer to the knowledge base was agreed to be a useful approach, with participants interested in establishing connections to do this.
What do you think attachment training has brought to your school?
Author: Helen Trivedi, Rees Centre, April 2018
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