news

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 www.the-arc.org.uk, find it on Facebook @attachmentresearch or follow it on Twitter @attachmentrc

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.

X