“ A strong message for today’s conference is how we can continue to grow and share the great work that exists across the UK. The introduction of Learning Hubs developed by ARC will ultimately see a national network of good practice settings across Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Post 16 and Special/PRU/AP"

On 21 November 2023, The Attachment Research Community (ARC) came together with fellow colleagues, psychologists, academics and schools to educate, celebrate and bring the subject of attachment and trauma awareness to the forefront of everyone's minds. The event took place with live delegates meeting in Birmingham.

The conference began with delegates being welcomed by ARC Chair, Andrew Wright, followed by an opening message from NAVSH Chair, Matthew Cooke.

The Alex Timpson Trust was represented by Jody Harris-Cook who joined the stage alongside ARC trustees to open the 2022 Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Awards; celebrating the best attachment aware and trauma informed practices that are embedded within schools across the country. The six category winners were awarded a winners trophy and a £1000 cash prize to help them continue their development. Jody commented;

“Over the last five years ARC has made tremendous progress, helping and spreading the word about attachment to a considerable number of schools across the country. These awards are a great way of recognising some outstanding schools which have gone the extra mile to recognise those children that need some special mentoring".

ARC 2023 ARC Attachment Award Winners

Primary award winner, Crocketts Primary School 

Secondary award winner,  Highfields School
Post 16 award winner,  Kirklees College
Special & PRU award winner,   Abbey Hill Academy 
Collaborative award winner, Joseph Cash Primary School 

The annual conference panel discussion was again hosted by presenter Charlie Neil, focussing on the past 12 months and the challenges faced by both students and staff within schools and settings, discussing subjects surrounding the importance of inclusive behaviour and the impacts of exclusion. The panellists included The Virtual School Head Teacher for North Yorkshire County Council and current Chair of NAVSH, Matthew Cook, Julie McCulloch (ASCL), Dr Janet Rose (Emotion Coaching UK), and Lea-Ann Bentley (Violence Reduction Partnership).

Each panellist brought their own perspective, experiences and outlooks on the significant value of embedding attachment and trauma into our school communities and gave the delegates opportunities to listen to the raw realities and experiences faced by professionals everyday.

Joining the stage to present the first keynote was BBC broadcaster and journalist Ashley John-Baptiste.

Ashley told his compelling, inspiring and sometimes humorous story of his childhood and how to achieve our own goals, "follow your dreams and never give up". Ashley's enormous enthusiasm and passion to use his story as a tool to motivate and propel others to face their challenges with a sense of optimism and triumph.   

“I really enjoyed the keynote speaker this morning. Ashley John Baptise was amazing and so deserved the standing ovation he received at the end of his speech.” - 2023 Conference Delegate

The Annual Conference included workshop sessions, provided by the 2022 Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award winners, who exhibited their successful work, practices, knowledge and their schools embedded relational and inclusive behaviour policies that allow their young people to feel secure, enriched and enthusiastic about being at school. The workshops also included a range of presentations from 2022 Timpson Award Winners as well as Welby Education, AC Education, KCA Education, Education Desty,Targeted Provision and The Mulberry Bush.

ARC’s second keynote speaker was Dr Edward Tronick, a world class researcher and teacher recognised internationally for his work on the neurobehavioral and social emotional development of infants and young children, parenting in the U.S. and other cultures, and infant-parent mental health.

The third keynote was delivered by Smash Life.  Andy and Matt Smith are brothers and Directors of Smash Life, at a young age both brothers were abused after being placed by social services into the care system. This took place over an eight-year period from 1990-1998. In 2018 the brothers united to found the company Smash Life.

The final keynote of the day was presented by Dr Adam Saenz who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Oakwood Collaborative in Texas, the counselling and assessment clinic he founded in 2003. He consults with school systems, nonprofits, and corporations internationally in the areas of emotional intelligence, self-care, and the dynamics of relationship-based learning.