West Midlands Regional Lead:

Michelle Salter & Jon Hickman

West Midlands includes: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton.

Local Authorities:

Birmingham Shropshire Walsall
Coventry Solihull Warwickshire
Dudley Staffordshire Wolverhampton
Herefordshire Stoke-on-Trent Worcestershire
Sandwell Telford & Wrekin

Regional Updates:

June 2024

President Kennedy School

At President Kennedy School, building brighter futures for all their pupils isn’t just something they have on the side of the building and upon the walls in reception. It is a clear mission statement that is underpinned by three core values: Learners First, It’s about Learning, and No Barriers. These core values are lived, and driven, by staff and has meant that they frequently consider how best to meet the need of their pupils. Thus, the inception of ‘The Apollo programme’ at President Kennedy was created. A programme which became anew approach to a contextually changing landscape of pupils’ needs.  

President Kennedy School is an outstanding school. In their recent OFSTED inspection(December 2023) it was noted that, ‘staff know their pupils extremely well and take account of each pupil’s starting points… As a result, pupils make excellent progress’.  It is this understanding of context that forms the foundations of their approach to teaching and learning. They reflect, that if they do not know where their pupils are at with their learning and personal development, then how can they move them forward? This often means they need to think creatively about how to overcome any barriers to learning. They are proud of their “no barriers” approach to education, ensuring pupils of all abilities and from all backgrounds are encouraged to set high goals and work hard to achieve them.

Like many schools, they are facing several challenges. From significant increases of pupils with SEND, to an increase of those with unmet or undiagnosed needs, to tackling persistent absence. They have needed to be relentless and creative in their approach to supporting some of their most vulnerable pupils. This has meant considering what the context of the child is and what their need is. Whilst this is quite a bespoke approach, they continue to review and develop the provision so that pupils continue to make progress.

The Apollo programme is a bespoke programme which puts pupils’ needs first. It focuses on developing learning habits, and addressing other SEMHL areas such as self-esteem, emotional regulation, and resilience. It is staffed by two highly specialised Learning Mentors who have a very targeted caseload of pupils who they work with. The programme also has teachers delivering specific small group subject teaching to help address any gaps in skills that may stop pupils accessing the education once they finish the programme. The high level of pastoral care and parental support is vital in ensuring the success of the student. The programme is for 6-12 weeks with transition into full time lessons being one of the main objectives.  

The gains may look granular, and may take time, but the successes are great. One pupil was on reduced timetable from year 4 to year 8 and arrived in year 7 with no diagnosed SEND. Their behaviour in year 7 made them question whether the school was the right one for them and whether they could meet their need. However, their approach to no barriers allowed the school to consider what their need was and how we could support them. Developing the pupil’s skill of communicating was essential as this often formed the first barrier. They now are attending school full time and now has an EHCNA and awaiting and EHCP. More importantly, they are happier in school.

The school are still refining our provision and reflecting on how they can further improve and support their pupils. CPD with all staff continues to highlight the importance of relationships and ensuring they connect before they correct. It is this approach which enables them to really focus on meeting the needs of all pupils and. If considering a similar approach, careful consideration needs to be taken of:

  • Space – where in the school might be the most appropriate for the students? Remember creating a sense of belonging will help establish routines with students.  

  • Staff – who has the skillset to be able to support the students? Having the right person in front of the right pupils will really help the support being put in place.

  • Curriculum – how can this be broad and balanced and include sufficient academic learning? Our advice would be to remain aspirational and ambitious.

  • Cost – how can you provide space, time, and staffing? The investment is important and realising that it will need to be reviewed is an essential part of the process.

However, the main thing they have learnt is that being brave and courageous is essential when making the right decisions for pupils. They also know that education and the lack of resources available means they need to continue to think creatively around being their own solution. Finally, believing in their vision for inclusion and remaining committed to their core values means that at President Kennedy School they really try to build brighter futures for all.

April 2024

Learning Hub: St Georges Primary School, Telford & Wrekin

 The school were thrilled to have been nominated twice by our Virtual School for the ARC Primary School Award. They were awarded the Telford & Wrekin Trauma Informed Attachment Aware School (TIASS) Gold Certificate in January 2024, an integral part of the West Midlands TIAAS Pathway which is aligned to the ARC Pathway, Audit and Matrix. The Head Teacher, Sally Sixsmith, and her team are very excited to now be an ARC Learning Hub school. They are very much looking forward to continuing our journey in being the best we possibly can be in supporting the children and families in their care as well as working with other schools who also want to develop their own practice.

The school motto, ‘EVERYONE matters, EVERYONE achieves’ is at the heart of everything they do and believe. At St George’s they believe that all children and staff should feel secure, valued and happy at school. They feel especially passionate about providing outstanding support for the growing number of children in their care who are affected by attachment and trauma. The school ethos is that every member of staff are advocates for these children, from their office staff to lunchtime staff, to senior leaders and governors.

 They strive to ensure that children are supported in all aspects of school life including their emotional health and wellbeing, and they know who they can talk to if they are feeling sad or worried. They pride ourselves on the positive relationships they nurture with the children and all school stakeholders.

 ‘St. George’s school is amazing. Everyone who works there is an asset to the team. So many amazing role models setting a high standard to truly help the children become the best version of themselves.’ (Parent quote- February 2024)

 The pupils thrive due to a wide range of positive practices. School core values are embedded throughout the school; these form the day to day ‘rules’ of school so that the children feel safe and know what is expected of themselves and others.  Emotion boards are used in every classroom as well as Circle Time, Pupil Voice, Wellbeing Champions, positive playground practices for lunchtimes, pastoral support for vulnerable children, anxiety strategies, Calm Brain, quality PHSEE curriculum, quiet spaces, self-esteem building activities, counselling and so much more.

 ‘PSHEE is really important as we can talk about our mental health and our feelings and we can express ourselves. We don’t get judged. We can celebrate our differences.’ (Pupil quote 2023)

 A clear long-term strategy has been developed to support the school community and this includes everyone having a strong attachment aware and trauma informed awareness. Staff have been provided with wide a range of high-quality professional development opportunities to enable them to support pupils, parents and colleagues. Following quality staff CPD, and then seeing the success of embedding trauma informed practice across school, we have written a new behaviour policy which has been incredibly successful in supporting children in making the best possible choices they can.  Without ever shaming children, they understand our expectations and know they can ask for help if they are finding it difficult. Staff intervene when necessary and are well skilled in de-escalation strategies and emotion coaching. Children can talk openly to staff through the positive and trusting relationships they foster.

 ‘The portfolio evidenced a range of comprehensive documentation reflecting a school which strongly believes in the vital role it has in supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of all.” (Wellbeing Award for Schools 2021. We are being re-assessed for this award in March 2024.)

The main impact of their work around trauma and attachment is that children, parents and staff are comfortable talking about EHWB, trauma and attachment which means that children who need support are quickly identified. Tailored personalised pathways are then in place to meet their individual needs. Children who have found school life challenging at previous schools, come to St George’s and quickly feel safe and secure. They never turn a child in care away from our school and all staff will do their absolute best to build positive relationships with them in order to then be able to call upon the range of provision we can offer e.g ELSA sessions and therapy sessions. The children feel well supported, safe and enjoy being with their friends and staff.

‘We don’t have to just think about our dreams at our school, we work out how to accomplish them.’ (pupil quote 2023)

West Midlands Trauma Informed Coalition

West Midlands Trauma Informed Coalition news April 24 (2)

March 2024

West Midlands Trauma Informed Coalition

The West Midlands Trauma Informed Workforce Learning and Development Framework: 

This framework is co-produced and will help to guide trauma-informed training and development across the region.

West Midlands Trauma Informed Commissioning Guidance: 

This has been developed in collaboration with over 30 organizations, this document aims to support positive and sustainable commissioning practices centred on people and trauma-informed principles. 

In order to allow stakeholders and interested parties to continue engaging with the Coalition, they can do so through the Trauma Informed Community of Practice platform.

Here you can:

Access the latest research, media resources, and local innovations.  (Recently shared publications include Leading Organizations From Burnout to Trauma Informed Resilience, An Exploration of Community-Led, Trauma-Informed, Prevention-Oriented, Resilience-Building, & Healing-Centred Considerations for Strengthening Communities and a West Midlands featured case study within the Home Office Publication. Trauma Informed Practice. Learning from experience).

September 2023

The WMVS have initiated their TIAAS Pathway this academic year. This has been based upon the ARC Pathway and schools across the region are been recognised for their approach with a personalised certificate co-signed by ARC, the WMVS CiC Foundation and the individual Virtual School.

The Foundation also hosted their inaugural Designated Teacher conference in July at which trauma informed approaches were an integral theme from contributions by ARC Cahir, Andy Wright, and SmashLife.

ARC continues to support the growing and developing West Midlands Trauma informed Coalition. This is a West Midlands Combined Authority initiative via the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) being delivered by Barnardo’s and is engaging organisations and agencies across Health, Social Care and Justice System, and linking to Education.  There are currently over 130 members from across the region who are contributing to the strategic development.

They have introduced and are developing a ‘Community Of Practices’ which offers a digital platform for collaborative learning.

Dear West Midlands Trauma Informed Coalition members,

The Update and Innovate meeting is coming up!

On Tuesday the 5th of September, 15:00 – 16:30, all Coalition members are welcome to join together for the first of our Update and Innovate quarterly meetings, with the aim to provide updates on the Coalition activity, including consultation involvement opportunities, Community of Practice, insight into locality-based Network activity and *opportunities to share practice learning and successes. 

This month we will be hearing from the NHS Vanguard project about how they continue to seek to see trauma informed practice embedded across their services and locality, and more about how your organisation and service users can have your voice represented within the regional workforce learning and development framework!

To register your space for this online event please sign up through the Eventbrite link below:

West Midlands Trauma Informed Coalition | Update and Innovate Meeting Tickets, Tue, Sep 5, 2023 at 3:00 PM | Eventbrite

*If you would like a slot to share your organisational journey towards trauma informed care during one of our Update and Innovate meetings, please email lucy.cavell@barnardos.org.uk who can discuss this further with you.

Community of Practice Knowledge Exchange drop-in sessions are open!

Our monthly Community of Practice Knowledge Exchange drop-in sessions cultivate a space for reflective practice and collaborative learning across the West Midlands. If you are based in the West Midlands, give yourself permission, save the date, grab a cuppa and come and join us for an hour at:

-        14:00 on the 31st of August: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88461541575 | Meeting ID: 884 6154 1575

-        10:00 on the 26th of September: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86999927946 | Meeting ID: 869 9992 7946

Forum activity:

Can you share your wisdom? This month, our online Community of Practice forum questions are:

Trauma Informed Prison Services |“I am looking for any suggestions of an evaluation tool that could be used in a prison setting to evaluate services, prisoner experiences, after delivering Trauma Informed care training. Any advice, guides, or suggestions most welcome”

Supporting Refugees | “Looking for some direction/support/ideas please - our local partners are working with and supporting asylum-seekers.  We are worried about the lack of their understanding of trauma and the lived experiences these men have had and are looking to help organisations do better.  I would be really grateful to hear any experiences you have had and where resources/raising awareness/training etc have helped.  Many thanks” 

You can find our Community of Practice forum, resource bank and events page here: https://tinyurl.com/2p93ex3s I look forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards,

Lucy Cavell 

Senior Trauma Informed Practitioner | Barnardo’s 

July 2023

The Virtual Schools across the region have been hosting a range of conferences during this month with ARC supporting in many ways.

The WMCiC Foundation – a charity representing the regions VS – held their first Designated Teacher Conference drawing over 300 delegates from across the 14 Local Authorities. The programme were informed about the local, regional and national developments of the TIAAS Roundtable and the Call To Action campaign from ARC Chairman, Andrew Wright. There were also key note speakers from Stuart Guest, Head Teacher of Colebourne Primary School, who will soon become an ARC Learning Hub, Smash-Life and Louise Blackburn (Challenge Education) – all with a focus upon on our trauma-informed approaches. The conference was opened by a panel of experts who discussed how to support our most vulnerable learners in our schools. The panel were Matthew Cooke (Chair of NAVSH), Ian Herman (HMI Ofsted), Dr Neil Harrison (University of Exeter), Simon Wellman (???? Telford & Wrekin) and Andy & Matt Smith (Smashlife).

ARC also supported Virtual School/Education conferences in Dudley, Herefordshire, and Telford & Wrekin.

ARC are working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority via the Violence Reduction Partnership in the Trauma Informed Coalition initiative led by Barnardo’s.

This focus programme are meeting on Tuesday the 5th of September, 15:00 – 16:30,  where all Coalition members are welcome to join together for the first of the ‘Update and Innovate’ quarterly meetings, with the aim to provide updates on the Coalition activity, including consultation involvement opportunities, Community of Practice, insight into locality-based Network activity and opportunities to share practice learning and successes.

May 2023

Upcoming events in the West Midlands Region:

Friday 9 June

Telford & Wrekin Virtual School Designated Teacher conference features relationship, role model & connection- featuring lived experience trauma informed programme.

Wednesday 15 June

WMVS Children in Care Foundation are holding an Annual Conference on Wednesday 15 June in Birmingham, featuring keynote speaker Mark Finnis as well as trauma informed practice workshops. This conference is free to attend and aimed at Virtual School staff within the West Midlands region, click here to register your place.

Tuesday 11 July

Herefordshire VS DT Conference ARC is taking place on Tuesday 11 July consisting of workshops and an ARC Timpson winner school sharing good practice.

Wednesday 12 July

The Dudley Education Conference, “Learning Needs – Needs Learning - Safeguarding the engagement and outcomes of all our learners“ is taking place on Wednesday 12 July at Dudley College of Technology featuring keynote speakers Steven Baker, Mick Simpson, Steven Russell and Lee Clulow as well as workshops to provide delegates with a wealth of information. Click here to register you place.

Monday 17 July

WMVS Children in Care Foundation are holding a regional Designated Teacher conference on Monday 17 July featuring keynote speeches from Louise Blackburn and SmashLife as well as hearing from Andrew Wright, ARC chair, and Stuart Guest, former ARC Timpson Award winner. Tickets are limited and are being allocated by the West Midlands Virtual Schools.

Wednesday 19 July

Dudley Virtual School are holding a free half day Post-16 Conference on Wednesday 19 July, 9am-12pm OR 1pm-4pm at Halesowen College. Open to all professionals from Education, Health, Social Care and the Criminal Justice System supporting and working with Post 16 young people. The conference will be focussing on attachment and trauma approaches. Click here to register your place.

March 2023

The West Midlands region hosted an official launch of their work on Friday 14 October at the Library of Birmingham. The event showcased the work of the 14 Local Authorities within the West Midlands, launching their TIAAS accreditation pathway, which follows the model offered by The Attachment Research Community. This includes the ARC Audit, ARC Pathway and ARC Matrix. The launch was attended by over 40 strategic and senior leaders from education, health and criminal justice settings and allowed colleagues to connect, learn and discuss everyday issues surrounding Attachment Aware and Trauma Informed Schools.

The TIAAS Regional Group agreed the details of a Regional Certification process for Education System Leaders across the West Midlands to use. The group included Virtual Schools, Educational Psychology Services, Local Authorities and others. The aim is to galvanise a joined-up, regional commitment to the promotion of trauma-informed and attachment aware approaches (or similar nurturing and relational based initiatives) within Education. Education System Leaders in each local authority can use this guidance to establish or maintain a pathway for education settings to follow in their own locality.

A TIAAS approach has been pioneered in some of the Local Authorities of the region, including Walsall and Birmingham. In these authorities the pathways have been built upon the research and evaluation work of numerous people.

The event began with an overview of the programme from Dudley Virtual School Head and ARC Chair, Andrew Wright, who introduced the TIAAS accreditation pathway to over 40 professionals working within the region, followed by ARC Patron, Sir John Timpson. Keynote speakers from the Trauma Informed Coalition, Claire Dhami, Ben Curtis Dr Alex Chard presented their findings from studies within the Violence Reduction Partnership and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). Dr Alex Chard presented the raw reality of punishing abuse and systemic attachment and trauma impacts upon the most vulnerable young people in society. The Rees Centre presented their key findings research of attachment and trauma awareness in schools, working closely with The Timpson Programme.   

Ian Thompson joined the event, virtually, to present his knowledge from the Excluded Lives Programme focussing on Experiences of School Exclusions: The impact on families and students. The launch event concluded with an presentation from WMVS CiC Foundation, and an overview of developments from within the West Midlands; followed by an hour-long panel discussion. Panellists included Head Teacher and adoptive parent, Stuart Guest, Head Teacher, Steven Powell, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Public Health, Dr Joht Chandan and Head of Systems Change and Inclusion, West Midlands Combined Authority, Claire Dhami. 

The Secondary Launch took place digitally on 20th January 2023, with colleagues in the wider community invited to join the discussions and network in workshops throughout the day.

On demand content from the digital launch is now available to ARC members in the membership area.