The mental health of young people is much discussed and a great cause for concern for schools and settings - 50% of mental health issues start before the age of 14, but only 30% of young people who need help get access to it. There is a growing body of academic research which demonstrates the effectiveness of attachment aware approaches in schools and other settings which work with young people. Several Higher Education Institutions have formed a network (The ARC HE & ITT Network) who seek to support ARC in a number of ways. Members of ARC are also able to access this network for support in their action research.
There are a number of recent academic articles which outline current debates and research on attachment and trauma awareness in schools, including:
Doonan, M., Stephens, C. (2021)
The core purpose of North Yorkshire Virtual School’s Attachment and Trauma Aware Schools Project is to support schools to work on development of their specific trauma responsive practice both systemically and individually. Following full school training in Developmental Trauma and Emotion Coaching, schools are supported to embed an aspect of practice using either Emotion Coaching or Circle of Adults. An audit is used to support planning and development. Schools are encouraged to develop Relational Behaviour Policies.
Dr Paul Kelly, Lizzie Watt and Dr Sara Giddens
Derbyshire County Council's Attachment Aware Schools programme, now in its fifth year, is meeting this need by providing a substantial school development programme which has led to innovative and sustainable ways of developing school practice.
Elizabeth Harlow (2019): Journal of Social Work Practice, DOI: 10.1080/02650533.2019.1700493
Janet Rose, Rebecca McGuire-Sniekus, Louise Gilbert and Karen McInnes (2019): Pastoral Care in Education, Volume 37, Issue 2 pp 162-184 02643944.2019.1625429
Richard Parker and Martin Levinson (2018): British Education Research Journal, Volume 44, Issue 5 pp 875 - 896
The Rees Centre, University of Oxford, has undertaken a number of evaluations of attachment aware schools and is currently undertaking a major national study of the impact of attachment and trauma aware approaches in schools. Its current publications can be found at
David Colley and Paul Cooper recently produced a book summarising current understandings of attachment theory in schools, with contributions from leading academics and practitioners
David Colley and Paul Cooper (2017) London, Jessica Kingsley
Available at major retailers
Although this is not a formal academic paper as such, Professor Barry Carpenter (who wrote the foreword to the book above) recently published an article on returning to school post Covid
Barry Carpenter and Matthew Carpenter (2020) SSAT Blog, May 1 2020
For a more informed critical view of attachment issues you may wish to look at:
Mark Smith, Claire Cameron and Daniela Reimer (2017)
British Journal of Social Work Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1606 - 1624,
DOI 10.1093/bjsw/bcx096; 0045-3102
Matt Woolgar, and John Simmonds (2019) Adoption and Fostering Volume: 43 issue: 3, pp 241-255
Their web page on resources for Attachment Aware Schools includes a number of videos, reports and a detailed bibliography on attachment and schools.
There have been a number of key parliamentary and government reports in the past few years which have highlighted the importance of schools promoting children and young people’s mental health, attachment and wellbeing. These are listed below: