A day to support, guide and celebrate good practice for those on their attachment and trauma aware journey - ARC host their 4th Annual Conference

On Thursday 21st November, the Attachment Research Community (ARC) held its fourth annual conference at the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre (BCEC). This year’s theme focused on facilitating the attachment aware school. Keynote speakers included Dr Margot Sunderland, Luke Rodgers BEM from Care Leaders and Dr Janet Rose.

The Chair of the National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH), Lynsey Burridge, was invited to open the conference and delegates heard the development plan and objectives of NAVSH’s plans to work with ARC to achieve the mission of all schools to be attachment and trauma aware by 2025.

ARC were delighted to welcome back Sir John Timpson CBE, to announce the 2019 Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award winners. Earlier this year schools and settings from across England were nominated by their Virtual School for each category. Categories included early years, primary, secondary, post 16 and special education. Several schools and settings were then shortlisted and asked to produce a short film or presentation showcasing their attachment aware journey. This year's winners are Ripley Infants School, St Luke’s Primary School, North Birmingham Academy, Stanmore College and Mowbray school. All schools showcased their development as a whole school and their implementation of approaches that benefited their young people.

Dr Margot Sunderland then delivered an inspiring keynote speech. Dr Sunderland is passionate about social change for a kinder, warmer world. Her presentation explored how to help delegates reach out to the most defended children and young people, helping them thrive.

The afternoon session was opened by Luke Rodgers, BEM who captivated the audience by telling his story. Luke ensures the voices and experience of young people in and leaving care drive sustainable change for good in the system. He challenged the delegates to understand young people from the inside out to ensure that young peoples’ voices are not only heard, but acted upon.

Dr Janet Rose, a former ARC Trustee, rounded off the keynote speeches by looking at what we can learn from other schools and settings. Dr Rose’s presentation explored key lessons from research into schools that have embarked on becoming attachment aware and trauma informed organisations.

Delegates also had an opportunity to delve deeper into the topic with two workshop sessions. Here delegates heard from practitioners as well as last year’s Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award winners. Neil Harrison from the Rees Timpson Project shared the early findings of the project, Rohit Naik shared how he changed the ethos of his school and received an ‘Outstanding’ result from Ofsted, Dr Sue Kay-Flowers explored how delegates can support children in ‘accommodating’ parental separation and divorce and Dr Anne-Marie McBlain looked into the rewards and risks of being in a gang and barriers to leaving. The workshop sessions allowed delegates to take back the suitable tools they need to make it work in their setting.

Andrew Wright, Chair of ARC said “the day was inspiring for all those involved. The world of education is increasingly becoming more challenging for both the young people and professionals. The new Schools Ofsted Inspection Framework, the Edward Timpson Review on exclusions, the select committee paper on Forgotten Children and the Mental Health guidance being developed alongside Health colleagues, are all looking for a more inclusive approach across the education system. The conference was able to connect theory with practice, celebrate outstanding work, and most importantly inspired us all to reflect on our own work, in our settings.”

The day also saw the launch of the first special focus conference which will be held at the same venue, Birmingham Conference and Events Centre, on 10th March 2020. ARC are excited to announce the focus will be on gangs, violence and the attachment solution. Tickets are now available and the first few keynote speakers have now been announced.

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