TIS - Trauma Informed Schools
Worple Primary School have been working with TIS (Trauma Informed Schools) for 2 years now and hope to become an accredited Trauma and Mental Health Informed School by the end of this academic year. Staff and have benefitted enormously already from the techniques and practice they have been trained in. Mrs Pennington is a qualified TIS practitioner enabling Worple to have an onsite specialist support available to our children.
This is a hugely positive step in working to support the wellbeing of our children and community. This practice and ethos will become an integral part of our values as we work towards this award.
What is a Trauma Informed School?
Professor Tamsin Ford (University of Exeter Medical School) states that “schools are a front line service in relation to mental health” (2018). In light of this, our practical skills-based training course underpinned by over 1000 evidence-based psychological, medical and neuroscientific research studies, is designed to inform and empower school staff to respond effectively to vulnerable children and those who have suffered a trauma or have a mental health issue. Without such interventions, painful life experiences are likely to present in challenging behaviour and/or blocks to learning. The training provides schools with key insights into the psychology and neuroscience of mental ill-health and challenging behaviour alongside vital tools and techniques in knowing how to respond to a child’s narrative of painful life events. So often this is enough to prevent years of suffering and the medicalising of their distress with psychiatric labels and medication. Schools will also be trained to know when to seek the support of psychologist-led supervision and when, due to limits of competence, to refer on. The course not only focuses on work with individual children but also on changing whole school cultures to be mentally healthy for all. The curriculum covers interventions designed specifically to address teacher stress, teacher absence and poor staff retention.
We aim to change troubled children’s lives, reduce exclusions, improve pupil attendance and staff retention, while positively impacting on the mental health of the school culture as a whole.
Through being a Trauma Informed school, we will enable Staff to:
- Learn to relate to children and young people in ways that alleviate their suffering, support their learning and make them feel cared for and appreciated
- Know how to respond to children who are in distress/ stress states in ways that help them to emotionally regulate, feel psychologically safe and develop the capacity to handle stress well over time
- Learn how to relate with children in ways that enhance their self-esteem, confidence and feelings of psychological safety.
- Know how to listen and empathise when children want to talk about painful issues and help them reflect and resolve
- Develop an in-depth understanding of what it’s like for a child or teenager to suffer from specific mental health problem (e.g. depression/ anxiety and feel confident in offering them accurate empathy, understanding and key psycho-education without inferring meaning
- Develop an in-depth understanding of the long-term impact of specific adverse childhood experiences and how to enable the child or teenager to work through feelings of anger and traumatic loss
- Employ strategies for early intervention (early indicators of mental health difficulties) know limits of competence and refer on to other agencies, when these are available
- Feel more confident in distinguishing developmental trauma from possible diagnosis of ASD, ADHD and FAS and be able to challenge misdiagnosis.
Work with whole school implementation of mentally healthy policies and practices
- Work to increase the protective factors and ‘safety cues’ in the school culture to prevent adverse childhood experiences from becoming long-term mental, physical and societal health problems
- Enable other staff to think psychologically about pupils in terms of what has happened to them rather than simply why are they behaving this way
- Educate staff to understand when challenging behaviour and explosive outbursts are likely to be trauma triggers and how to calm children
- Support staff to relate to children in ways that enable them to move from blocked trust to trust
- Using accessible language, educate staff with the brain science and psychological research on child mental health problems and their impact on quality of life and learning
- Educate staff about what children need in their relationships with adults, so they don’t suffer misdiagnosis, distress or additional trauma in the school environment
- Support staff in ways that prevent them suffering from high levels of stress, developing secondary trauma and leaving the profession as a result. For more information and how to apply