Department of Education

Research projects

The Alex Timpson Attachment and Trauma Programme In Schools

This five year research programme led by the Rees Centre aims to increase understanding of the role of attachment and trauma in educational outcomes for children – especially those who are in care or vulnerable.


Main focus of the Programme: – the impact of ‘whole school’ training in attachment and trauma awareness – :

  • How young people form and maintain relationships, particularly with adults
  • How experiences of trauma (e.g. from abuse or neglect) impact on a young person’s brain development
  • How emotion coaching and similar strategies help young people to self-regulate their behaviour.

Preliminary studies in Bath & North East Somerset, Leicestershire and Stoke-on-Trent suggest that increased awareness of attachment and trauma issues among teaching and non-teaching staff can positively influence the school environment, enhance well-being and ultimately improve learning and educational outcomes.

The overarching research questions for the Programme are:

  1. How do staff adapt their practices as a result of attachment and trauma awareness training?
  2. Do staff and children report changes to the school climate as a result of attachment and trauma awareness?
  3. How do schools change their policies and practices with increased understanding of attachment and trauma?
  4. Do children attend better and make more progress in attachment and trauma aware schools?
Information for local authorities

The standard model for participation in the Programme is as follows, although we are happy to discuss possible variations:

  • The local authority (usually through their virtual school or educational psychology service) assemble a cohort of schools – generally between five and ten across any phase and mainstream, special or alternative provision.
  • The local authority arranges or devises a whole school training programme for the schools, usually funded through the Pupil Premium Plus and based around attachment, trauma or emotion coaching. Please note the Programme doesn’t have funding to deliver training.
  • We observe the training (one per local authority) and use online surveys to measure what staff and pupils feel about their school prior to the training.
  • We repeat these measurements around 12 months and 24 months after the training to assess what has changed within the school.
  • We supplement the surveys with interviews with staff and focus groups with pupils in a subset of the schools, undertaken around the time of the training and again around 18 months later.
  • We are happy to provide schools with an anonymised and confidential summary of the data collected from their staff and pupils on an annual basis.
More resources below

Newsletters from the Programme and factsheets about early findings and how schools are implementing attachment and trauma aware approaches can be found below.  There are also recordings of our webinar series, including senior school managers talking about how their schools have changed as a result of attachment and trauma awareness.

For more information, please e-mail us on

Research Team

Follow Us