In July, Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) received an award from Achieving for Children Virtual for being involved in the Attachment Aware Schools project over the past year - a partnership project between Bath Spa University, BANES council, the National College for Teaching and Leadership, and a range of organisations, specialists, and schools.
In September 2020, the Achieving for Children Virtual School, covering Richmond, Kingston, Windsor & Maidenhead, launched the Attachment Aware School Awards (AASA) for the schools and colleges in their boroughs, and Richmond upon Thames College signed up to take part.
The intended impact of the project was to raise awareness across the college about attachment and trauma informed practice, to improve learning and wellbeing outcomes for children in scope, for staff to develop new skills in emotion coaching to reduce pressures in classroom and behaviour management, reduced incidents of negative behaviour and persistent absence, and a whole college commitment to inclusivity.
The project was one academic year in duration, and in that time RuTC delivered a remote whole college training on attachment theory, child brain development and trauma informed practice, followed by an online workshop for 30 staff on Emotion Coaching techniques to be used directly with young people who are in emotional crisis.
As the AASA programme lead for the college, Cait Orton designed and implemented a ‘change project’ called Transition Days. In collaboration with colleagues from Admissions, Marketing and Student Services, ten sessions were organised across two days for prospective applicants who had declared an additional welfare need (eg looked after young people, young carers, those with allocated social workers etc). Applicants were invited into the college and were given a presentation designed to help them understand the differences between school and college, what to expect from their time at RuTC, how the curriculum works, and some top tips from past students. They were then given a tour of the building and shown all of the key support and resource areas, followed by a workshop to develop some skills for managing transitions and coping with change.
A celebration event held on the 6 July concluded the project and gave participants the opportunity to share ideas and best practice.
Speaking on the project, Safeguarding team leader Cait Orton said “What was clear from all of the providers involved in the project was that we all see this as the first step on our collective journey toward embedding attachment awareness in our settings, and that the legacy of this first year is a drive to continue developing and evolving our practice to ensure that attachment awareness becomes the pedagogical norm. It's been a wonderful experience to be involved in the project, and I know that we will continue working together to ensure the best outcomes for our students.”