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Attachment Awareness in Schools and Co-creation

The concept of co-creation is one of the key components of successful projects identified by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University in their seminal paper of May 2016 entitled From Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts.

They define it as follows:

Co-Creation in Designing and Testing New Program Strategies

Actively combining knowledge and experience from science, practice, community, and policy perspectives is essential to innovative thinking. Productive collaboration brings together people who seek novel ideas to address identified gaps and challenges with partners who develop creative approaches to achieve specified outcomes. When these roles converge in teams and settings that have the mindset, skills, leadership, and flexible funding to design and test new strategies, the conditions are in place for breakthrough impact.

This research from Harvard informs how we work with school settings and services around attachment awareness. As our Associates share the latest knowledge and understanding of attachment, trauma, resilience and the neurophysiology of relationships, it is exciting for us to see the practice developments that emerge as practitioners incorporate this into their own local context. This co-created approach ensures that the schools with whom we work are using their own knowledge, skills and expertise to bring about genuine transformation in their own area.

Two new case studies have just been published on our website which provide details of different projects to develop attachment awareness in schools. One follows the progress of two quite different primary schools in London's Tri-Borough area, Our Lady of Dolours RC Primary School in Westminster and Oxford Gardens Primary School Kensington and Chelsea. Another details the journey of an all-through academy for three- to sixteen-year-olds in Runcorn, The Grange School.

All these settings had different starting points in terms of demographics, history, culture, policy and staff's levels of understanding and skills around attachment, trauma and resilience. Their motivations at senior leadership level for wanting to develop more attachment-aware practice also varied accordingly, and therefore the routes they have taken towards this goal are informed by a range of locally specified outcomes.

Barnardo's Scotland using Five to Thrive to close the educational gap

Barnardo's Scotland has put attachment-aware and trauma-informed practice at the heart of their response to the Scottish Government's Attainment Challenge.

'Our work to close the educational attainment gap focuses on promoting secure attachment, promoting recovery from toxic stress (trauma) and building resilient communities', states their new document outlining their approach, Closing the Educational Attainment Gap.

Barnardo's Scotland and KCA have worked together to co-create a two-part model which aims to meet the Attainment Challenge by supporting the development of attachment-aware and trauma-informed nurseries and schools. This will increase knowledge of the neuroscience of learning and development, the impact of toxic stress on the body, and developing practitioners' skills and confidence in promoting healthy brain development. The second part focuses on providing whole-family support from nursery through to secondary phases with a strong emphasis on supporting educational attainment through positive family relationships.

'Our ambition is to enable Scotland's children to arrive at the school gates ready to learn. We will achieve this by helping parents build strong and healthy relationships with their children which will in turn increase their educational attainment and life chances', said Martin Crewe, Director, Barnardo's Scotland.

Nursery, primary and secondary settings across North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and South Ayrshire are already involved and Barnardo's Scotland are continuously measuring and testing the model's effectiveness using the Scottish Government's 3-step Improvement Framework.

Evaluations of this work demonstrate a clear link between a child being raised in a nurturing, caring and supportive way and their ability to learn and achieve in school.

Learn more about Barnardo's Scotland's work to close the educational gap here.

Attachment Research Community launch conference kick-starts important new initiative

The inaugural conference of the Attachment Research Community at Birmingham's NEC took place on Wednesday 7 December, and KCA was happy to be a part of it.

Around 180 enthusiastic delegates warmly welcomed the launch of this new sector-led initiative which will facilitate and share action research into those attachment-aware, trauma-informed and neuroscience-based interventions which work best for children.

Kate Cairns spoke about the Harvard model of 'co-creation' saying, 'Practice develops best when the people who are doing it are the ones who actually develop it.' You can read more on this here, an interview with Kate published in Nursery World on 12 December.

John Timpson CBE announced that he will be funding five years of research into fostering and education at the Rees Centre; Dr Janet Rose spoke about 'the zone of tolerable stress'; school practitioners celebrated the fantastic work they have been doing in bringing attachment awareness into practice in their schools; and researchers from Bath Spa University shared their findings which indicate that attachment-aware practice improves pupil attainment as well as emotional health and wellbeing.

Tony Clifford, Head of the Virtual School closed the conference with a rallying cry: 'This is a call to arms - the arms that we extend out to support children when they are in need of connection.'

From January 2017, professional organisations which are delivering attachment-aware and trauma-informed interventions with children will be able to sign up to become members of the ARC. Member organisations will have access to a specially designed web platform which will support them to conduct action research within their settings and share it across a community of like-minded organisations delivering children's services nationally and internationally.

You can learn more at www.the-arc.org.uk, find it on Facebook @attachmentresearch or follow it on Twitter @attachmentrc

KCA qualifications given seal of approval.

Awarding body IQ (Industry Qualifications) have again approved KCA as a high-quality qualifications centre.

KCA's awards and certificates accredit professionals from the children's workforce specifically in relation to their understanding of the concepts of attachment, trauma and resilience and their skills in embedding these concepts into their daily working practices, which can make such a difference to the lives of vulnerable and traumatised children.

IQ's external verifier was impressed with KCA's 'highly motivated', 'organised' and 'proactive' team, the 'excellent' resources, the 'robust feedback' provided by the assessors and the 'comprehensive' policies and procedures.

She was particularly enthusiastic about the KCA Connected online system through which candidates access their learning and submit their work for assessment, which she described as 'One of the best I have seen and worked with, as it is so easy to use'.

KCA currently provide awards and certificates at level 4 (equivalent to first-year degree-level work), and will have Level 3 (equivalent to A levels) available early in the new year. Plans are also in place to add a level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) qualification later in 2017, which will provide an essential grounding for those preparing to work with children.

The knowledge and skills development delivered through these qualifications is applicable and transferable to a wide variety of professional contexts, including schools, healthcare, fostering, social work, youth work and early years.

Newcastle takes Attachment Awareness in Schools to heart

On 2 November 2016 Newcastle's Virtual School introduced an Attachment Awareness in Schools project to around 100 staff working in different roles within mainstream primary and secondary schools, special schools, a pupil referral unit, and fostering, adoption and Connexions services.

KCA's Training Director, Felicia Wood, was delighted to be involved in this event, delivering training to such a committed and engaged group of professionals.

Vivienne Cunneen, the Acting Virtual School Head for Newcastle City Council, said she was really pleased with how it was received. 'We had been looking for an exciting and innovative approach that would help increase empathy, understanding and skills amongst professionals working with our looked after children in order to reduce exclusions and raise attainment. This training launched an excellent model on which to build and take forward this key strategy to improve outcomes for children and young people.'

One participant noted, 'This knowledge will be used to further support those vulnerable children in my care and hopefully allow them to develop as well-adapted young people who will leave us ready for the next steps in their journey.'

Building on this enthusiasm, the Virtual School intends to develop the partnership with KCA further in order to establish a network of practitioners from a range of settings who will conduct action research into what works most effectively locally by trialling, evaluating and embedding attachment aware strategies into daily practice.

KCA welcomes Felicia Wood as new Training Director

KCA staff welcomed a new member to their ranks this week as Felicia Wood took up her post as Training Director, a full-time post based at our head office in Gloucestershire.

Felicia had already been collaborating with KCA as one of our Associate Trainers whilst working as a Research Associate and Lecturer at Bath Spa University. In addition, she brings a considerable amount of expertise to her new role, having amassed a great deal of experience — over 15 years — as a teacher in both secondary and primary schools.

You can see a fuller biography of Felicia by clicking here.

Felicia will enjoy a period of overlap with our outgoing Interim Training Director, Julie Revels, who stays with us in that role until the end of July to help Felicia get to grips with her brief. Julie will continue to work with KCA after July as a lead Associate and consultant, as well as continuing her work at Church Park Consultants.

KCA e-learning 'Fit for purpose' - 94% of learners would recommend course to others

Recently commissioned analysis of over 5,000 completed feedback questionnaires from learners using KCA's e-learning showed that 94% would recommend their course to others.

Over 70,000 people have attended face-to-face events with KCA since 2011, and many of these have been offered connected learning in the form of an e-learning course on the topic to help embed the learning and apply it in practice.

Of those who filled out a course completion questionnaire, 97% felt the course had 'fully' or 'mostly' met the learning objectves for their course. and 75% rated it as better than other e-learning tools they had used.

Soon to be published on our website, the full report is available on request from KCA. For this or information on e-learning or any other aspect of our training, please call our main office on 01453 488400.

£500 draw winner announced

We are pleased to report that Truro Child Development Centre (Cornwall Council) working out of Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske Truro, was the winner of £500 of training and resources from KCA after being selected randomly by our system from all the respondents to our recent customer survey.

Lynn Cadwallader, Secretary at the Centre, stated "We are delighted! We love the Five to Thrive materials and use it throughout our practice, so this will come in very useful."

The Development Centre has been using Five to Thrive since 2013 and chose to use their prize to help develop this work with extra resources and elearning for staff which will support the work they are doing with some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the county.

Bringing Five to Thrive Alive: two approaches to implementing Five to Thrive within Barnardo's

Interesting report published by Barnardo's earlier this week, sharing some of their experience of implementing new approaches and interventions using Five to Thrive.

You can view the report by clicking this link.

New appointments to KCA's board

KCA have been working this summer on strengthening our available resource at board level.

In May, Jonathan Rallings was appointed to the board as a non-executive director. As Assistant Director (Strategy & Policy) for Barnardo's, Jonathan has been working closely with KCA on the charity's integration of Five to Thrive in their early intervention and early years work. He brings a very useful background in issues of public policy and regulation.

We have now made another appointment, inviting Julie Revels to join us as Interim Training Director from the start of August. She will be taking on many of the operational aspects of Kate Cairns's role, with Kate moving to a position as chair of the board. Julie has already made a valuable contribution to our work in her role as an associate for KCA, and has her own long experience of training and consultancy to the public sector, particularly in the area of Special Needs.

We're really excited about the creativity, energy and experience offered by the new-look team.

Barnardo's Early Intervention with Families Strategy

To date, eighty-two KCA training events have been delivered as part of the Barnardo's three-year Early Intervention with Families Strategy. This means that we have trained over 1,800 Barnardo's staff!

The training was jointly delivered with Barnardo's Training and Consultancy, and the courses have been overwhelmingly well received by staff: 94% of post-training respondents said they would recommend this training to others.

We now look forward to delivering more training in the third year of the strategy and to working even more closely with Barnardo's services across the UK as they begin to use Five to Thrive in practice.

Birmingham City Council: Virtual School conference

Birmingham City Council played host to over 200 Designated Teachers, Head Teachers and other practitioners involved in the education of children in care on 27 February.

They gathered at a conference held at Birmingham City Football Club to consider and learn about how schools can be safe spaces and nurturing communities for our most vulnerable and traumatised young people.

Delegates left reporting that they felt 'inspired' and 'motivated', with one delegate stating that the day was 'wonderful', adding that they felt the training content should be made compulsory for all school staff.

We were delighted to see the venue virtually bursting at the seams with enthused delegates, so we at KCA would like say a big 'Well done!' to the Virtual School team at Birmingham City Council for attracting such a large crowd, and helping to stimulate an atmosphere of enthusiasm and interest.

Lewisham launch of Five to Thrive

A conference at Lewisham University Hospital saw Public Health come together with Children's Centres for the launch of Five to Thrive in the borough of Lewisham, which will contribute greatly towards Lewisham's aim of becoming a UNICEF 'Baby Friendly' borough.

The conference was opened by Director of Children's Services, Frankie Sulke who reminded conference that the money the local authority has to spend on services for children belongs to the children, and that every penny must be for the benefit of the children of Lewisham.

This was followed with hard-hitting keynote presentations from Carmel Duffy from UNICEF on becoming a 'Baby Friendly' borough, and our very own Kate Cairns on the neuroscience behind Five to Thrive.

Managers from Health, Early Years, Education, Social Care, and voluntary sector services joined in a working lunch to plan taking Five to Thrive into their own services. In the afternoon Children's Centres then worked together on planning and implementation.

We now look forward to supporting Lewisham on their continuing journey towards becoming a 'Baby Friendly' borough and their innovative and inspiring plans to use Five to Thrive in practice.

State of the Nation report published

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission today published its report 'The State of the Nation'.

Five to Thrive is cited within the report as "the most notable [small-scale programme] aimed at improving the early years workforce so that they understand the key factors in children's healthy brain development".

We are heartened to see the fundamental importance of parenting has been recognised within this report and we will follow with interest Government policy response over the coming months and years.

Southend-on-Sea wins £40m from Big Lottery Fund

We are delighted to hear that Southend-on-Sea is one of five local authority areas to be awarded up to £50 million Big Lottery Funding.

As consultants providing professional expertise into the bid, KCA saw first hand the hard work and dedication of the bid team as they engaged with stakeholders across the community.

The bid team have already made huge progress in terms of community participation, and we wish them well as they turn the vision into reality.

Barnardo's rolls out Five to Thrive

Barnardo's are rolling out Five to Thrive training across the country as part of their Early Intervention strategy. Following the successful completion of Phase One of the initiative, 300 Early Years services are to receive training in the principles of Five to Thrive.

Assistant Director for Strategy at Barnardo's, Jonathan Rallings, said "The Five to Thrive approach will be complementary to the existing Barnardo's Early Years work. It will provide our family support staff with new ways of emphasising to parents the importance of their interactions with their baby, and the difference they can make to their child's life."

"In making our choice of [training] programme, we carried out a full assessment of a number of products on the open market of which Five to Thrive was felt to be the best fit for Barnardo's based on a number of criteria including cost, flexibility and focus."

KCA to develop Level 4 qualifications

Following a request from Southampton City Council, KCA are now developing a Level 4 qualification for people working with traumatised children and young people. Pilot testing for these flexible, practice-focused qualifications will be ready by September 2014.

Evaluation of My Baby's Brain confirms Five to Thrive makes a highly positive contribution

The evaluation of phase two of Hertfordshire's 'My Baby's Brain' project confirmed that Five to Thrive and the contributions made by KCA have an impact and are cost-effective.

Both the resources and training that make up KCA's Five to Thrive approach are now being considered by many Local Authorities and Health Trusts as an essential model to underpin work across children's services.

Northamptonshire Community Health Trust set to introduce Five to Thrive across children's services

As part of an organisational response to the neuroscience of brain development, Northamptonshire Community Health Trust, together with the Local Authority, have commissioned KCA to provision a significant staff development programme.

An ignition conference will take place on 13 May and this will be followed up by sector-specific training events and focused development of up to 60 'Five to Thrive Champions'.

Local authority and schools across Cambridgeshire address the need for improved outcomes for vulnerable children

Hosted by the Virtual School for Looked After Children, 101 staff from across the Local Authority and schools in Cambridgeshire gathered at the Burgess Hall conference centre to consider how to improve outcomes for vulnerable children at an event facilitated by KCA's Training Director, Kate Cairns.

Feedback from the day so far has been very positive and the Virtual School has already committed to a follow-up programme of workshops.

Initial Teacher Training to include attachment awareness?

A meeting was held today at the headquarters of Teach First in London to consider how Initial Teacher Training might be extended to include understanding of attachment and developmental trauma.

The meeting saw representatives from the Department for Education, National College for Teaching and Leadership, UCET and NASBTT, Teach First, Bath Spa University, The Teaching School Alliance, the National Association of Virtual School Head and KCA discuss these training needs. There was consensus that the neuroscience is compelling, and an understanding of these issues is essential knowledge for all who work with children.

Sally Poskett commented that "It is fantastic to see this important area of work now on the agenda for Initial Teacher Training. We look forward to seeing how this develops, and to contributing in whichever ways prove useful."

North Yorkshire set out ambitious platform for schools training

North Yorkshire Virtual School are provisioning training and development for a cluster of five schools within the Catterick Garrison and North Allerton areas of the county.

Whole-school training, supported with connected learning delivered by KCA, together with follow-up consultancy and support from the virtual school will provide the opportunity for trauma-informed practice to be taken into the classroom, staffroom and playground.

New associate: Julie Revels

KCA is pleased to welcome Julie Revels to the team. Based in Cambridgeshire, Julie brings to KCA a wealth of experience in education and early years as a practitioner and trainer, and we know that she will contribute powerfully to our work with Five to Thrive and related topics throughout the UK.

You can see detail on Julie's relevant experience by visiting her associate page.

>>> More about Julie

CYP Now Outcomes Conference

Our Training Director, Kate Cairns, presented on Five to Thrive at the 2014 CYP Now Outcomes conference. Chaired by Anita Tiessen (UNICEF UK) and John Freeman, the conference was very well attended by senior leaders, managers and practitioners from across the public and private sectors.

New course: Brain Development and Positive Parenting

KCA Online has been extended with the addition of a new course for those working with parents and carers of young children. Drawing on our 'Five to Thrive' approach to reinforce positive parenting, the course is aimed at children's centre and nursery staff, outreach workers and volunteers.

Describing the course, Kate Cairns said, "Helping parents to understand the impact they have on the developing brain of their children can in turn help to develop parental responsiveness and confidence. This understanding truly promotes positive parenting."

New associate: Jane Herd

KCA is very excited to welcome Jane Herd as an associate. A lecturer and researcher with more than 25 years experience in social work, Jane has both the practice experience and academic rigour to make a real difference as a KCA trainer.

As she is based in Essex, we imagine that her work will be centred around London and the East of England, although, as with many of our associates, there may be demand from much further afield.

You can see more detail on Jane's CV and experience by visiting her associate page.

>>> More about Jane

Customer survey results show high satisfaction level

A broad-ranging poll of KCA's customers in October 2013 revealed a consistent message about the high quality of customer service and attention they received, even if the services being commissioned vary widely.

In total, 59 commissioners completed their survey response, with every single one saying that they would happily recommend KCA to colleagues. A massive 90% of respondents rated KCA's customer services as 'Very good' or better, while 14% described it as the best they have experienced.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 'Knowledge of KCA services' was seen as the most common attribute of KCA's training consultants, but the fact that 'Friendliness' and 'Communication skills' came in close behind was very pleasing for Sally Poskett, KCA's National Service Development Manager. 'From the point of view of our customers,' she said, 'the important thing is that they feel their training consultant is someone whose judgement and discretion they can trust. We're there to listen as much as to form proposals, and we're all about relationships, so I was really pleased to see friendliness and communication picked out in this survey.'

However, it was clear that the public service sector is still facing difficult financial times. Although 29% of respondents said it was 'certain' that they would be commissioning further work in the coming year, budgets were seen as the single biggest factor influencing ongoing commissioning. As one respondent remarked about KCA, 'I think their reputation is excellent and they deliver. The likelihood or not is linked to local budget constraints.'

Opinions varied on whether KCA should be doing more to maintain the important relationship with customers. While the general response was that existing communication channels worked well, a few people highlighted the website and more regular newsletters as areas for improvement. These suggestions are being taken forward by the company, with plans for both of these to be refreshed before the summer of this year.

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