The Covid-19 pandemic has catapulted discussions about mental health, wellbeing and trauma into the limelight like never before. Now, schools and education settings around the nation face the challenge of supporting children to recover and to thrive after the upheavals of the past year. 

In this context, Adoption UK is pleased to be a signatory to this Call to Action developed by The Attachment Research Community and the National Association of Virtual School Heads, and endorsed by education professionals, academics and organisations with vast experience in supporting children who have experienced trauma and disrupted attachments. 

Drawing on extensive research, the Call to Action makes a persuasive case for a national policy framework which promotes a whole school approach rooted in the understanding of the impact of trauma on learning and wellbeing. While the document is rooted in the context of the English education system, the general principles apply across the UK. 

The recommendations outlined in the Call to Action echo much of what Adoption UK has been calling for through our Equal Chance campaign, including incorporating attachment and trauma training into initial and continuing teacher training, and making changes to inspection frameworks to include recognition of the importance of a trauma and attachment perspective in schools’ approaches to behaviour. 

Covid-19 may have focused the nation’s minds on mental health in recent months, but the evidence linking emotional wellbeing to improved attainment has been well established for years. Adoption UK’s Bridging the Gap report (2018)  not only detailed this evidence, but also highlighted the views of nearly 2,000 adopted children and young people, 79% of whom said they routinely felt confused and worried at school. 

Effecting change in a system as complex and vast as education is a slow process but, as more and more organisations and individuals join their voices to demand something better for our children, momentum is surely building.  

Adoption UK is proud to stand alongside the other signatories to this Call to Action in asking for the government to seize this unique opportunity for change and, in doing so, to improve the life chances of tens of thousands of children and young people. 

Author: Rebecca Brooks, Education Policy Advisor, Adoption UK