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What does a trauma-informed school look like?

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

A trauma-informed school has a culture which values ALL people within it. Its compassionate ethos is one which places relationships, felt safety and well-being at the centre of it, and this should be reflected throughout its:

  • Mission statement

  • Relationships between staff, pupils, parent/carers (the whole school community)

  • Policies and systems (note non-shaming behaviour policy and systems key to trauma-informed practice)

  • Curriculum

  • Meetings

  • Recruitment

  • Continuing professional development plans

A truly trauma-informed school is one where everyone who works within it has a strong understanding of the impact of trauma on children and young people and places the most vulnerable child at the centre of everything it does.

It values:

👉 Collaboration - all voices from within the school community are heard, acknowledged and contributions valued

👉 Honesty and openness without judgment

👉 Inclusion

👉 Individual strengths and interests

👉 Self-reflection and ongoing learning around trauma and emotional regulation

👉 The health and wellbeing of its staff and students (and prioritises this clearly)

👉 Approaches to behaviour that seek to accept, empathise, connect and 'support' rather than 'manage', punish, or shame

👉 Playfulness (exploring and connecting through playful interactions)

👉 Acceptance that all emotions are valid and all behaviour is communication

👉 Curiosity (What's going on? What's needed? What can we learn from this?)

👉 Empathy (for authentic connection and to ensure people feel heard and understood)

A trauma-informed setting reframes the old narrative!

Trauma-informed staff remain curious as to what's actually going on underneath any behaviour which alters how they then respond to a child.

Trauma-informed staff understand how trauma impacts a child's view of the world and beliefs about themselves and others, and the part overwhelm or an overactive stress response plays in terms of emotional regulation and survival behaviours (and have awareness around common potential trauma triggers). They also understand the power that providing co-regulation, building trusting relationships, considering communication carefully and providing a low stress sensory environment can have in supporting felt safety.

Settings working in a trauma-informed way still implement boundaries, but they are there to create a sense of safety and predictability - they are of a scaffolding nature if you like.

Working in a trauma-informed way is a way of being and everyone understands it's an ongoing process which requires regular review, reflection and development.

Whole setting trauma training is just one part of the process, but it is an important one all the same - it's where the 'aha!' moments often kick in, and an openness and a commitment to doing more with what we know about trauma by taking simple agreed steps to doing things differently can be embraced.

Who wouldn't want to be part of a trauma-informed setting?

With all of this in mind, we provide a range of flexible training options for education settings looking to work in a trauma-informed way -we can meet you where you're 'at' and work with you to take things to the next level. Our services are delivered by trainers with both classroom teaching and therapeutic parenting experience.

We recognise the importance of increasing awareness of the impact of trauma for anyone working with children. As ex-teachers, we also recognise the pressure on staff in the classroom to do and be everything, so build highly practical ideas, strategies and resources to take away and use the next day in the classroom into our training.

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