‘They have been failed’: first UK school to address early-life trauma planned

The UK’s first school for children who have experienced early-life trauma such as neglect or abuse and are currently being failed by the education system could open within two years. The Guardian reports.

The short-stay school would provide children aged four to seven with therapy and education to prepare them to rejoin mainstream schooling.

The proposed Your Place academy in Norwich has had input from leading psychiatrists and psychologists and aims to create a template that could be copied elsewhere.

Harmful early experiences including physical, sexual or emotional abuse, loss of a parent or exposure to drugs or alcohol in the womb can have a significant impact on a child’s social and emotional development.

Daniel Thrower, an executive headteacher with the Wensum Trust, the academy chain behind the proposal, said: “Children experiencing significant early-life trauma have been typically failed in UK schools. This is not the school’s fault.”

Anne Oakley, who works with children with developmental trauma and attachment difficulties in Norfolk schools and is part of the Your Place team, said: “The work we do has to be repetitive because you’re altering the structure of the brain, so it has to be really regular. Rather than the bolted-on once-a-week session it has to be many times a day. That’s the real difference.”

The proposal is for a school with 32 places, half of which would be full-time, with referrals from social workers, teachers or parents. Pupils would be accompanied by a key person from their mainstream school, most commonly a teaching assistant, who would help them transition smoothly between the two sites.

Thrower anticipates most children would attend for a term or two before being ready to rejoin their mainstream school. The school would work with families to ensure the home environment is stable and outreach provision would continue, including with former pupils.

Read the full article  ‘They have been failed’: first UK school to address early-life trauma planned

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