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.

KCA qualifications given seal of approval.

Awarding body IQ (Industry Qualifications) have again approved KCA as a high-quality qualifications centre.

KCA's awards and certificates accredit professionals from the children's workforce specifically in relation to their understanding of the concepts of attachment, trauma and resilience and their skills in embedding these concepts into their daily working practices, which can make such a difference to the lives of vulnerable and traumatised children.

IQ's external verifier was impressed with KCA's 'highly motivated', 'organised' and 'proactive' team, the 'excellent' resources, the 'robust feedback' provided by the assessors and the 'comprehensive' policies and procedures.

She was particularly enthusiastic about the KCA Connected online system through which candidates access their learning and submit their work for assessment, which she described as 'One of the best I have seen and worked with, as it is so easy to use'.

KCA currently provide awards and certificates at level 4 (equivalent to first-year degree-level work), and will have Level 3 (equivalent to A levels) available early in the new year. Plans are also in place to add a level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) qualification later in 2017, which will provide an essential grounding for those preparing to work with children.

The knowledge and skills development delivered through these qualifications is applicable and transferable to a wide variety of professional contexts, including schools, healthcare, fostering, social work, youth work and early years.

KCA e-learning 'Fit for purpose' - 94% of learners would recommend course to others

Recently commissioned analysis of over 5,000 completed feedback questionnaires from learners using KCA's e-learning showed that 94% would recommend their course to others.

Over 70,000 people have attended face-to-face events with KCA since 2011, and many of these have been offered connected learning in the form of an e-learning course on the topic to help embed the learning and apply it in practice.

Of those who filled out a course completion questionnaire, 97% felt the course had 'fully' or 'mostly' met the learning objectves for their course. and 75% rated it as better than other e-learning tools they had used.

Soon to be published on our website, the full report is available on request from KCA. For this or information on e-learning or any other aspect of our training, please call our main office on 01453 488400.

KCA to develop Level 4 qualifications

Following a request from Southampton City Council, KCA are now developing a Level 4 qualification for people working with traumatised children and young people. Pilot testing for these flexible, practice-focused qualifications will be ready by September 2014.

Northamptonshire Community Health Trust set to introduce Five to Thrive across children's services

As part of an organisational response to the neuroscience of brain development, Northamptonshire Community Health Trust, together with the Local Authority, have commissioned KCA to provision a significant staff development programme.

An ignition conference will take place on 13 May and this will be followed up by sector-specific training events and focused development of up to 60 'Five to Thrive Champions'.

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.

New course: Brain Development and Positive Parenting

KCA Online has been extended with the addition of a new course for those working with parents and carers of young children. Drawing on our 'Five to Thrive' approach to reinforce positive parenting, the course is aimed at children's centre and nursery staff, outreach workers and volunteers.

Describing the course, Kate Cairns said, "Helping parents to understand the impact they have on the developing brain of their children can in turn help to develop parental responsiveness and confidence. This understanding truly promotes positive parenting."

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.