I’ve been thinking lately about how schools can really help to improve the way they support children’s mental health. This is something so crucial that doesn’t always receive the time and effort that it deserves. I know a lot of schools are working hard to support the emotional well-being of their pupils, but I can’t help but feel there is more to be done.

I was reading an article on tes.com titled “Teachers ‘need more training on childhood trauma’” and I think that raises an important issue. Are teachers receiving enough training to help them support vulnerable pupils including those who have experienced early childhood trauma? According to Baranado’s, “many school staff have not been trained on the impact of early trauma” and “adverse childhood experiences.” Barnado’s Assistant Director Laura Falconer goes on to say, “It is crucial that schools create an environment where all staff know how to support and respond to children affected by early trauma, where children are taught to develop the skills they need to understand and cope with their experience, and where staff feel confident linking in with additional support if needed.”

It is surprising to me that not many school staff have been trained on this. While working in schools, I met many children who had significant emotional well-being needs and who found it extremely difficult to understand and express their emotions. Therefore, I agree that school staff need better training to support children’s well being,  including those who have experienced trauma. It’s not just about staff training though, it’s about how we teach our pupils to help themselves. As Laura Falconer explains, “Teaching children from an early age about emotional awareness, how to self-regulate and the skills to support resilience are essential parts of preventing future problems with their mental health and wellbeing.”

This means we need to create a classroom culture where children feel safe and able to talk about their feelings with adults and children – and where adults are good role models for how to express and manage emotions. Perhaps it might be a good idea to start thinking now about how you will support the well-being of your new cohort for September. Consider how you could do this as a class, a year group or even a whole school. In the top tips section of our blog, you can find a post titled ‘Creating a positive classroom culture’ that has a couple of ideas to get you started. If you have any good ideas to help professionals support child well-being in their schools, then please let us know.

Teachers ‘need more training on childhood trauma’, Henry Hepburn, 14/08/18

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