fromthe classroom


hismonth Education Today speaks to Lindsay Cooper-Smith, SEN Lead at The Edison Centre, a specialist alternative placement fo

success inmainstreameducation. Based at for children aged 5-11 enabling

DiscoveryMulti-Academy Trust, the Edison Beechwood Primary Academy, part of the

Health issues fromacross the Plymouth area. childrenwith Social, Emotional andMental Centre provides nurture provision for

The Trust – comprised of Oakwood Primary ry

Academy,WestonMill Community Primary ry

Academy, Beechwood Primary

the Edison Centre - recently celebrated being ry Academy and

named the first educational group in the UK towin a ‘Mentally Healthy Organisation Award’. Presented by not-for-profit The Centre fo

for ChildMental Health (CCMH), and Trauma Informed Schools UK (TIS UK), the

commitment to the emotionalwellbeing of award recognises the Trust’s ongoing

its pupils. Here, Lindsay tells usmore. When did you identify the school's challenges?

fy a need fo for addressing

We’ve always been passionate about helping children develop their social, emotional and

mental health, but when Plymouth embarked upon its journey of becoming a Trauma Informed City, we realised there was much more we could be doing to formalise and develop best practice. We’re conscious that our commitment to mental health extends beyond the immediateMAT community of schools to the wider city, and we’re always keen to share best practice and collaborate with other schools.

The positive emotional and mental health of our pupils and staff will always be our priority – without strong mental health, learning and teaching is impossible. All of the Trust members are committed to making life better for vulnerable children.We recognise we might not be able to fix everything, but while the children are at school they are provided with a safe, compassionate and caring environment.

With limited services, long waiting lists and budget cuts it is important to provide support in- house where possible. If children do not receive the timely support they need regarding SEMH, we see a spike in challenging behaviour and a drop in attainment. Similarly with employee wellbeing, there tend to be higher turnover rates and more sick days if organisations don’t take their staff’s needs into account.

Howdid you hear about Trauma Info Schools (TIS UK)?


Predominantly through the trauma-informed network in Plymouth, but also hearing stories from teachers and education staff in the

neighbouring county (Cornwall) about the TIS UK work taking place there. Although all of our staff participate in continuous professional

development with regards to the latest research and reading around children’s mental health, we thought the TIS UK programme provided excellent practical, hands-on training to proactively tackle the issue.

A trauma informed school is one that is able to support children who suffer with trauma and/or mental health problems, and whose troubled behaviour can act as a barrier to learning. Based on numerous public Adverse Childhood

programmes support schools and other

organisations in providing relationships for these children in order to help them overcome their difficult experiences.

Can you tell us about howthe approach works?

Primarily, the approach is based around key staff

Experiences (ACEs), the TIS UK health studies around


March 2020

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