Trauma Informed Schools
Trauma and Mental Health Informed School
At St Dennis Primary Academy ‘Everyone matters, everyone succeeds and every moment counts’. Central to this provision is an incredibly positive ethos of high expectations and respect for one another. We pride ourselves on our caring, nurturing and engaging environment, in which every child can thrive, feel safe and achieve. We believe that through identifying the barriers to learning, providing an exciting, creative and relevant curriculum that considers the whole child, providing the necessary support for children to achieve and develop, and forming positive relationships, all children will reach their true potential.
We are committed to ensuring that our school develops a Trauma and Mental Health Informed Approach to ensure that all our children develop positive mental health and resilience, enabling them to fully engage in life and learning. There is a growing body of research and understanding of the impact of Childhood Adversity on long term mental and physical health and the protective factors that minimise the potential impact. It is our aim to maximise the protective factors of school by creating an environment of safety that has strong, positive, supportive relationships at its heart.
One of the Key Drivers for our curriculum is Wellbeing - Children being physically and mentally healthy so they have the strength to be successful and happy, is a key element in our curriculum intent. We aim to ensure that children have the knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to make healthy decisions and choices in the future, as throughout their lives our children may face difficult challenges.
Whole School Approach
We have embraced a wider definition of trauma to encompass any event that is experienced as frightening, painful or out of control, characterised by there being no one available to support or mitigate the impact of traumatic toxic stress. As such, even the day-to-day exposure to events such as divorce, loss of a loved one, illness within the family, preparing for an exam, moving house can be experienced as traumatic. Children and adults can be affected by toxic stress. Providing an environment that has safety, connection and compassion at its heart ensures that we never unwittingly re-traumatise any of our community members and act to maximise protective factors through the conscious use of our relationships.
All adults in our school are aware of how to create an ethos and environment of both physical and psychological safety and have the skills to respond to those who have been impacted by traumatic stress. We fully understand and support the impact that connection with a trusted, emotionally available adult has on a child and seek to maximise this for those in our care who are identified as requiring additional support.
All our staff have undertaken whole school training, provided by Trauma and Mental Health Informed Schools UK so that every adult has the skills and understanding to respond appropriately to the relational needs our children may display. Our behaviour and relationship policies reflect a trauma informed approach and our rewards and sanctions are both developmentally and trauma- informed. We do not operate a ‘zero tolerance’ or ‘one size fits all’ approach to distressed behaviour, however, we have high expectations of behaviour for all and rigorous support is offered to those having difficulty meeting our expectations.
We have specially trained Trauma and Mental Health Informed Practitioners to support children who are identified as requiring additional support. This support may be offered in 1:1 sessions, in class or in small groups.
Children are identified for additional support by a number of methods. We universally screen the emotional and social development of our children using Motional. This assesses key executive functions and skills, emotional literacy and self-regulation. Children do not always present through their outward behaviour when life is becoming difficult for them, our universal screening program ensures that no child is missed. Children may also be highlighted through a significant change in their behaviour in school or through a parental concern when behaviour changes at home or a significant life event impacts the family.
Our aim is to support children to make sense of their experience, find ways to manage their emotions and feelings and ensure that they maintain the capacity to learn, despite difficult events that may happen.
We believe that our parents know their children best and we are committed to working in partnership to identify the best ways of providing support for your child within school. We aim to develop positive, non-judgemental working partnerships with all our parents.
Our Trauma-informed approach applies to all of our Academy members, children, adults and parents alike. Our aim is always to PROTECT our school community members and reduce their levels of toxic stress at the earliest indication, offering support and skill development, with the adults they know best, in a place they feel both safe and supported, within their community.
If you have any questions please contact Mrs Waters, Trauma and Mental Health Informed Schools Lead Practitioner.
You can read our Relationship Policy here