New Schools' Training Certificate to demonstrate commitment to Attachment-based practice

Following the introdution of new Statutory Guidance for Designated Teachers earlier this year, KCA are now able to offer schools certificates to verify they have received training on attachment. KCA have always provided individual certificates for participants, but the new guidance means that many more schools have expressed to us that they are actively wanting to demonstrate their commitment to developing attachment-based practice. The new certificates will help schools to be able to show simply and clearly that they have received training with the requisite learning outcomes also noted.

For more information please contact KCA on 01453 488400 or

Launch of Stockport Virtual School Attachment Aware Schools project 2018-19

KCA are working with the Virtual School and schools in Stockport to develop 'Attachment Awareness' across the Borough.

In Stockport, the Virtual School's plan will involve a new cohort of around 9 schools in phase I of the project with phase I roughly co-inciding with the academic year 2018-2019.

This project will be evaluated by Judy Sebba's team at The Rees Centre (University of Oxford Department of Education) and forms part of the wider study being funded by The Timpson 'Attachment and Trauma Programme'.

Leicester City schools innovative approach to INSET training days

As many schools have fixed INSET training days schools often are all competing for the same dates from training providers.

In August 2018 Leicester City schools took an innovative approach to INSET training days which were held in August 2018 either side of the bank holiday. Attachment training was delivered for in excess of 400 staff.

Derbyshire Attachment Aware School project goes from strength to strength

Ahead of year four of their Attachment Aware Schools project, Derbyshire Virtual School for Looked After Children have published this report. Following learning inputs from KCA, schools invovled in the project undertake action research as they apply theory to pratice. The Virtual School both supports the action research proecess and facilitates opportunities for practice sharing. This exciting and effective approach to developing attachment awareness fully embraces a process of co-creation in which success is dependent upon empowering all stakeholders to innovate.

KCA Delivers 2,500th Training Event

Today KCA delivered our 2,500th event in Carmarthen for the Education through Regional Working (ERW) Project in Wales. Our Associate Tom Pyne was delighted to be back in South Wales where we have been working closely with this exciting project across the past three years. The enthusiasm and commitment of the workforce in this part of the world is always very apparent.

KCA appoints Jonathan Rallings as new Managing Director

KCA has welcomed Jonathan Rallings as its new Managing Director. Jon brings a wealth of experience from a range of roles in the public and voluntary sector - including at NSPCC, Pre-School Learning Alliance and London Councils. Most recently he has led on rolling out KCA's Five to Thrive into services UK-wide whilst Assistant Director for Strategy at Barnardo's.

Jon takes up his post at KCA on Monday 8 January 2018.

KCA announces conference for 2018

KCA today announced that it will be running a new conference for school leaders which will be taking place in February 2018. The conference - entitled 'Courageous Leadership' - will be taking place on 28 February in Reading.

For more details about the programme, speakers and to book a place please visit the open courses page on our website.

Attachment Awareness in Schools and Co-creation

The concept of co-creation is one of the key components of successful projects identified by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University in their seminal paper of May 2016 entitled From Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts.

They define it as follows:

Co-Creation in Designing and Testing New Program Strategies

Actively combining knowledge and experience from science, practice, community, and policy perspectives is essential to innovative thinking. Productive collaboration brings together people who seek novel ideas to address identified gaps and challenges with partners who develop creative approaches to achieve specified outcomes. When these roles converge in teams and settings that have the mindset, skills, leadership, and flexible funding to design and test new strategies, the conditions are in place for breakthrough impact.

This research from Harvard informs how we work with school settings and services around attachment awareness. As our Associates share the latest knowledge and understanding of attachment, trauma, resilience and the neurophysiology of relationships, it is exciting for us to see the practice developments that emerge as practitioners incorporate this into their own local context. This co-created approach ensures that the schools with whom we work are using their own knowledge, skills and expertise to bring about genuine transformation in their own area.

Two new case studies have just been published on our website which provide details of different projects to develop attachment awareness in schools. One follows the progress of two quite different primary schools in London's Tri-Borough area, Our Lady of Dolours RC Primary School in Westminster and Oxford Gardens Primary School Kensington and Chelsea. Another details the journey of an all-through academy for three- to sixteen-year-olds in Runcorn, The Grange School.

All these settings had different starting points in terms of demographics, history, culture, policy and staff's levels of understanding and skills around attachment, trauma and resilience. Their motivations at senior leadership level for wanting to develop more attachment-aware practice also varied accordingly, and therefore the routes they have taken towards this goal are informed by a range of locally specified outcomes.

Barnardo's Scotland using Five to Thrive to close the educational gap

Barnardo's Scotland has put attachment-aware and trauma-informed practice at the heart of their response to the Scottish Government's Attainment Challenge.

'Our work to close the educational attainment gap focuses on promoting secure attachment, promoting recovery from toxic stress (trauma) and building resilient communities', states their new document outlining their approach, Closing the Educational Attainment Gap.

Barnardo's Scotland and KCA have worked together to co-create a two-part model which aims to meet the Attainment Challenge by supporting the development of attachment-aware and trauma-informed nurseries and schools. This will increase knowledge of the neuroscience of learning and development, the impact of toxic stress on the body, and developing practitioners' skills and confidence in promoting healthy brain development. The second part focuses on providing whole-family support from nursery through to secondary phases with a strong emphasis on supporting educational attainment through positive family relationships.

'Our ambition is to enable Scotland's children to arrive at the school gates ready to learn. We will achieve this by helping parents build strong and healthy relationships with their children which will in turn increase their educational attainment and life chances', said Martin Crewe, Director, Barnardo's Scotland.

Nursery, primary and secondary settings across North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and South Ayrshire are already involved and Barnardo's Scotland are continuously measuring and testing the model's effectiveness using the Scottish Government's 3-step Improvement Framework.

Evaluations of this work demonstrate a clear link between a child being raised in a nurturing, caring and supportive way and their ability to learn and achieve in school.

Learn more about Barnardo's Scotland's work to close the educational gap here.

Attachment Research Community launch conference kick-starts important new initiative

The inaugural conference of the Attachment Research Community at Birmingham's NEC took place on Wednesday 7 December, and KCA was happy to be a part of it.

Around 180 enthusiastic delegates warmly welcomed the launch of this new sector-led initiative which will facilitate and share action research into those attachment-aware, trauma-informed and neuroscience-based interventions which work best for children.

Kate Cairns spoke about the Harvard model of 'co-creation' saying, 'Practice develops best when the people who are doing it are the ones who actually develop it.' You can read more on this here, an interview with Kate published in Nursery World on 12 December.

John Timpson CBE announced that he will be funding five years of research into fostering and education at the Rees Centre; Dr Janet Rose spoke about 'the zone of tolerable stress'; school practitioners celebrated the fantastic work they have been doing in bringing attachment awareness into practice in their schools; and researchers from Bath Spa University shared their findings which indicate that attachment-aware practice improves pupil attainment as well as emotional health and wellbeing.

Tony Clifford, Head of the Virtual School closed the conference with a rallying cry: 'This is a call to arms - the arms that we extend out to support children when they are in need of connection.'

From January 2017, professional organisations which are delivering attachment-aware and trauma-informed interventions with children will be able to sign up to become members of the ARC. Member organisations will have access to a specially designed web platform which will support them to conduct action research within their settings and share it across a community of like-minded organisations delivering children's services nationally and internationally.

You can learn more at, find it on Facebook @attachmentresearch or follow it on Twitter @attachmentrc

Newcastle takes Attachment Awareness in Schools to heart

On 2 November 2016 Newcastle's Virtual School introduced an Attachment Awareness in Schools project to around 100 staff working in different roles within mainstream primary and secondary schools, special schools, a pupil referral unit, and fostering, adoption and Connexions services.

KCA's Training Director, Felicia Wood, was delighted to be involved in this event, delivering training to such a committed and engaged group of professionals.

Vivienne Cunneen, the Acting Virtual School Head for Newcastle City Council, said she was really pleased with how it was received. 'We had been looking for an exciting and innovative approach that would help increase empathy, understanding and skills amongst professionals working with our looked after children in order to reduce exclusions and raise attainment. This training launched an excellent model on which to build and take forward this key strategy to improve outcomes for children and young people.'

One participant noted, 'This knowledge will be used to further support those vulnerable children in my care and hopefully allow them to develop as well-adapted young people who will leave us ready for the next steps in their journey.'

Building on this enthusiasm, the Virtual School intends to develop the partnership with KCA further in order to establish a network of practitioners from a range of settings who will conduct action research into what works most effectively locally by trialling, evaluating and embedding attachment aware strategies into daily practice.

Bringing Five to Thrive Alive: two approaches to implementing Five to Thrive within Barnardo's

Interesting report published by Barnardo's earlier this week, sharing some of their experience of implementing new approaches and interventions using Five to Thrive.

You can view the report by clicking this link.

Birmingham City Council: Virtual School conference

Birmingham City Council played host to over 200 Designated Teachers, Head Teachers and other practitioners involved in the education of children in care on 27 February.

They gathered at a conference held at Birmingham City Football Club to consider and learn about how schools can be safe spaces and nurturing communities for our most vulnerable and traumatised young people.

Delegates left reporting that they felt 'inspired' and 'motivated', with one delegate stating that the day was 'wonderful', adding that they felt the training content should be made compulsory for all school staff.

We were delighted to see the venue virtually bursting at the seams with enthused delegates, so we at KCA would like say a big 'Well done!' to the Virtual School team at Birmingham City Council for attracting such a large crowd, and helping to stimulate an atmosphere of enthusiasm and interest.

Evaluation of My Baby's Brain confirms Five to Thrive makes a highly positive contribution

The evaluation of phase two of Hertfordshire's 'My Baby's Brain' project confirmed that Five to Thrive and the contributions made by KCA have an impact and are cost-effective.

Both the resources and training that make up KCA's Five to Thrive approach are now being considered by many Local Authorities and Health Trusts as an essential model to underpin work across children's services.

Local authority and schools across Cambridgeshire address the need for improved outcomes for vulnerable children

Hosted by the Virtual School for Looked After Children, 101 staff from across the Local Authority and schools in Cambridgeshire gathered at the Burgess Hall conference centre to consider how to improve outcomes for vulnerable children at an event facilitated by KCA's Training Director, Kate Cairns.

Feedback from the day so far has been very positive and the Virtual School has already committed to a follow-up programme of workshops.

Initial Teacher Training to include attachment awareness?

A meeting was held today at the headquarters of Teach First in London to consider how Initial Teacher Training might be extended to include understanding of attachment and developmental trauma.

The meeting saw representatives from the Department for Education, National College for Teaching and Leadership, UCET and NASBTT, Teach First, Bath Spa University, The Teaching School Alliance, the National Association of Virtual School Head and KCA discuss these training needs. There was consensus that the neuroscience is compelling, and an understanding of these issues is essential knowledge for all who work with children.

Sally Poskett commented that "It is fantastic to see this important area of work now on the agenda for Initial Teacher Training. We look forward to seeing how this develops, and to contributing in whichever ways prove useful."

North Yorkshire set out ambitious platform for schools training

North Yorkshire Virtual School are provisioning training and development for a cluster of five schools within the Catterick Garrison and North Allerton areas of the county.

Whole-school training, supported with connected learning delivered by KCA, together with follow-up consultancy and support from the virtual school will provide the opportunity for trauma-informed practice to be taken into the classroom, staffroom and playground.

CYP Now Outcomes Conference

Our Training Director, Kate Cairns, presented on Five to Thrive at the 2014 CYP Now Outcomes conference. Chaired by Anita Tiessen (UNICEF UK) and John Freeman, the conference was very well attended by senior leaders, managers and practitioners from across the public and private sectors.

Customer survey results show high satisfaction level

A broad-ranging poll of KCA's customers in October 2013 revealed a consistent message about the high quality of customer service and attention they received, even if the services being commissioned vary widely.

In total, 59 commissioners completed their survey response, with every single one saying that they would happily recommend KCA to colleagues. A massive 90% of respondents rated KCA's customer services as 'Very good' or better, while 14% described it as the best they have experienced.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 'Knowledge of KCA services' was seen as the most common attribute of KCA's training consultants, but the fact that 'Friendliness' and 'Communication skills' came in close behind was very pleasing for Sally Poskett, KCA's National Service Development Manager. 'From the point of view of our customers,' she said, 'the important thing is that they feel their training consultant is someone whose judgement and discretion they can trust. We're there to listen as much as to form proposals, and we're all about relationships, so I was really pleased to see friendliness and communication picked out in this survey.'

However, it was clear that the public service sector is still facing difficult financial times. Although 29% of respondents said it was 'certain' that they would be commissioning further work in the coming year, budgets were seen as the single biggest factor influencing ongoing commissioning. As one respondent remarked about KCA, 'I think their reputation is excellent and they deliver. The likelihood or not is linked to local budget constraints.'

Opinions varied on whether KCA should be doing more to maintain the important relationship with customers. While the general response was that existing communication channels worked well, a few people highlighted the website and more regular newsletters as areas for improvement. These suggestions are being taken forward by the company, with plans for both of these to be refreshed before the summer of this year.