Expanding our trauma-informed approach to parents, carers and new teachers

Khulisa launched our 2021-24 strategy, Closing the Trauma Gap: Skills and Relationships Built to Last, in July of last year. 

In it, we recognise that improving a young person’s social and emotional skills will only go so far in improving their life outcomes. To create meaningful and lasting change, we need to also ensure that all young people are cared for by adults who are trauma-informed and systems that are responsive to their social and emotional needs.

With this in mind and the strategic focus on building positive relationships, over the last term Khulisa has been working closely with a number of schools and parent communities in Barnet through the Barnet Parenting Network.

Building skills and relationships with parents

Working with the Barnet Parenting network, we delivered three parenting webinars to three different schools in Barnet. Using recent discoveries in neuroscience about the changes that take place in teenagers’ brains, these sessions centred around the needs of teenagers to be understood by their parents and supported with structure and nurture.  

Each session covered an important aspect for supporting young people;

  1. Positive Relationships – maintaining and developing a good relationship with children and teenagers.
  2. Structure and Nurture – putting in boundaries that keep them safe, whilst also allowing them to develop independence
  3. Managing Challenges – coping with additional pressures that increase challenging behaviours

These sessions were very popular with parents, with some wanting to participate in the next stage of the programme to become parent champions, supporting other parents in their community.

“A quick recap of the previous session was really nice. I like how you back up knowledge with real life examples.”
“I love the teenage brain bit and validation that we’re doing ok and attempting the right things”

Working with School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

At Compton School, we were delighted to be invited to expand this approach to supporting the whole community that surrounds young people by also training the school’s newest teachers. This was the first time we have worked with trainee teachers and what better way to embed trauma-informed approaches than to engage with teachers right at the beginning of their experience? 

One of the key issues facing the education sector is the rate of staff turn-over and burn out and our training helps new teachers identify and embed self-care and regulation as a part of their teaching from day one.  

Working closely with the leadership team at the school, we developed training in line with Khulisa’s parents and professional trauma training, and adapted it to cover the Government’s standards for teacher training. 

Forty new student teachers, due to start teaching their own classes in September, are now equipped with knowledge of trauma and attachment, the impact of loss and adversity on the brain, the importance of a trauma-informed response in schools, and the necessity for prioritising their own wellbeing as professionals.  

Embedding Trauma-Informed practice across education

This programme is just the beginning of Khulisa’s ambition to make teacher training trauma-informed. It provides us with a meaningful opportunity to equip the next generation of teachers with invaluable knowledge about trauma and adversity, as well as its impact on learning and social development. For some children and young people, school can be one of the few places where they are able to feel safe around adults. As they spend such a large proportion of their time in school, it’s vital that their teachers are able to understand trauma, and be able to effectively respond to it. This includes being able to co-regulate young people, and help them to develop the skills to self-regulate.

“Students are more likely to say, “Can I have two minutes out of the classroom” and have an awareness of how they are feeling, which I think is a massive thing not only for students but for us as teachers as usually they’d act up and then we’d take them through some sort of punishment and whether they’d learn something from that or not I’m not sure.”
“The most significant change for me has been an enhanced understanding of the teenage brain. This has made me more patient with challenging behaviour. It’s had an impact on me and all the students I teach.”

The whole school approach, working with pupils, parents, teachers and student teachers is powerful, and could be life changing for young people. We want to build relationships with schools, academies and teacher training organisations to further develop this opportunity. If you are interested in how this can support your organisation please fill in our contact form

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