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‘They just get it’: the power of substitute attachment relationships in school
The Attachment Ambassadors Project
“They just get it”
The power of substitute attachment
relationships in school.
The Attachment Ambassadors
• To help children with attachment issues have a better
experience of school
• Help them to feel safe, supported and ready to learn
• Support teachers and school staff to build positive
relationships with troubled children
• Create a legacy of ‘Attachment-Aware’ schools
• Relationships are Everything!
Relationships are Everything…
“If relationships are where things
developmental can go wrong, then
relationships are where they are most
likely to be put right.”
David Howe Emeritus Professor of Social Work,
University of East Anglia
The Attachment Ambassadors
• Attachment Ambassadors – a ‘go-to’ person
• Attachment training and induction
• Tailored/individual planning for each child
• Ongoing support for teachers and staff
• Schools’ membership of Adoption UK
• A legacy of attachment-aware schools
“Exposure to early
adversity and trauma
literally affects the
structure and function of
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
“There is considerable evidence for changes in brain
function in association with child abuse and neglect...
Hyper arousal, aggressive responses, dissociative
reactions, difficulties with aspects of executive functions
and educational underachievement thus begin to be
Dr D Glaser, Consultant Paediatric Psychiatrist, Great
Ormond Street Hospital
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”
Key Adult Theory
Neuroscientists now tell us that in the presence of a
‘good enough’ other – for example a foster carer, an
adoptive parent, a therapist, a mentor, a teaching
assistant – that new and more sophisticated neural
pathways can be formed in the child’s developing brain,
and new patterns of relating and behaving can emerge.
So we need to adapt our practice in our schools as a
result of these findings”
Louise Michelle Bomber, Inside I’m Hurting
1. Share your own experiences of supportive teachers
who ‘went the extra mile’.
2. What qualities do you think it takes to be a
substitute attachment figure in school?
3. What barriers can you see to the development of
such relationships, in either primary or secondary
4. What practical steps can be taken to overcome
these barriers and ensure supportive relationships
are facilitated for troubled children?
Relationships & Resilience
“In the busy-ness of our schools, we sometimes fail to
remember our shared humanity and the fact that people
actually affect us. Lack of relationship can hinder us and
good, stable relationship can help us to grow….
For those who have been wounded or rejected in a
relationship in their past, attention to this kind of detail can be
significant. We need to respect the importance of continuity
in relationships the child values, as this is a significant factor
in promoting resilience.”
The Power of Relationships
“The more healthy relationships a child
has, the more likely he will be to recover
from trauma and thrive. Relationships are
the agents of change”.
Bruce Perry MD PhD,
Consultant Paediatric Psychiatrist