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The Attachment Research Community is a charitable organisation set up in 2017.

The ARC was founded by Virtual Heads because they saw how attachment aware approaches made a difference for children in schools. The ARC is a membership community designed to help and support schools and settings to become attachment aware and develop best practice. Children learn through attachment relationships. Sadly, trauma and unmet attachment needs adversely affect many children in our schools. Attachment aware schools’ have put this understanding at the heart of their work and have developed creative and effective responses to meeting everyone’s core mental health and wellbeing needs.

The ARC provides a space for professionals to plan and share their learning and best practice through our suite of online tools and regional and national events, including our annual conference.

If you are interested in becoming a member click here

What is our approach to research and best practice?

Nationally there is a range of emerging best practice in using the findings of neuroscience, in particular, understanding the processes of attachment and trauma, to support children to achieve their potential.

The ARC committed to sharing this best practice, and to turning important research and understanding into ways of working that make a difference.

Recognising that the best developments are those designed and developed locally, at the core of the ARC sits a web platform which supports members to share and develop best practice through their work. Our approach allows for small scale in school projects to year long developments across LAs or MATs. Our members can share their research interests, case studies and discussions and so enrich their learning.

At the heart of the ARC's action research model is a five-step 'Engine of Change' (see right).

You can read about our approach to research here

The Five Stage Cycle of Action Research

  • Sir John Timpson CBE

Our board of trustees is a group of people who have been looking at knowledge and practice around attachment aware settings for years. They are:

  • Andrew Wright, Chair

    Andrew is the Head Teacher of Birmingham Virtual School for Children In Care and Social and Emotional Health Partnerships. The Virtual School supports in excess of 1800 children in care within the city and across the country. The Virtual School Team is one of the largest in the country with 30 staff working alongside social teams, health, schools, educational settings/providers and foster carers.

    Andrew has over 30 years of teaching experience in a range of secondary school across the West Midlands. A clear strategic thinker, Andrew has an expertise in school improvement within challenging settings, transforming the ethos of schools, the behaviour, attendance and attainment of young people. He has been recognised by Ofsted as a leader who sets ‘a clear direction and vision focusing on raising aspirations and achievements’.

    Andrew has a keen understanding of developing an inclusive curriculum both within and across schools. He has influenced innovation in curriculum design through a range of strategic roles including chair of a collaborative network of schools, regional and national strategy groups and has directly integrated partners from the world of work into the learning experiences.

    As the Head Teacher of the Virtual School, Andrew is committed to developing a sustainable system of support to enable all children to develop into independent and successful adults. He recognises the importance of strong partnerships across services, businesses and agencies and has developed a menu of support and opportunities in a ‘Learning Tool Kit’ for children in care.

  • Richard Parker

    Richard Parker has been a youth worker, a researcher, and a secondary school teacher in Inner London. He worked for many years in local government within education and children’s services, in a number of different authorities. In 2010 he joined Bath Spa University as Director of the Centre for Education Policy in Practice (EPIP), which aimed use the research strengths of the university to promote improvement in education support for vulnerable groups. Richard has a particular interest in the education of children in care and has been involved in a range of activities to promote emotion coaching and attachment awareness in schools and initial teacher education, at both local and national level. He was a founder trustee of ARC, and coordinates the ARC HE and ITE network, including the response to the recent Green Paper on children’s mental health (click here to view). He is also working with NAVSH in delivering a new Bath Spa University Postgraduate Certificate for carers and professionals working with care experienced children, as part of the MA Programme in Professional Practice.

  • Tony Clifford

    Tony has 35 years of experience of working with young people in education, including as Virtual Head teacher for Children in Care in Stoke-on-Trent and as a head and senior leader in secondary mainstream and special schools. He is a former Ofsted Inspector.

    Tony has contributed to the development of policy and practice for children in care, care leavers and mental health at a national level, as vice chair of NAVSH and through expert advice to DfE, NICE and SCIE.

    Co-founder of the House Project in Stoke, funded by the DfE to develop a better pathway to independence and housing for Care Leavers.

  • Dr Anne-Marie McBlain

    Anne-Marie originally trained and worked in the field of the Biological Sciences before re-training and working as a science teacher in a mainstream 11-18 secondary school. She then undertook further training to gain a Masters degree in psychology and worked in a diverse range of environments including: special education, mental health and the Prison Service before completing her professional training as an Educational Psychologist. Anne-Marie currently works as a Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist for Stoke Virtual School supporting educational and other settings to meet the needs of children and young people in care. This involves dealing with complex case work carried out within a multi-agency context; leading the delivery of attachment aware training for all schools and settings in the authority and beyond; supporting settings to conduct action research to develop cutting edge practice both in the authority and nationally and making sure schools and settings can confidently and effectively support the children and young people in care to achieve their potential. Anne-Marie is also a trained counsellor and works with both adult and child clients.

Head of governance

  • Peter Cox

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