Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Awards
"A milestone moment": West Kirby School and College receives Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Award (ATSSA) Gold Level
In July 2023 we were awarded Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Award (ATSSA) at Gold Level.
The award recognises the school as a “beacon of best practice” in supporting young people who have experienced adversity to heal, thrive, play, and learn.
Dr. Jennifer Nock, who presented the school with the accolade, said: "What really shone throughout is how an attachment and trauma-sensitive approach is increasingly interwoven into WKS’ strategy, policy and practice. “It is not a ‘tick box’ of things to do, but a rich tapestry which is organic and dynamic, responding to the needs of the whole school population. We are delighted to award Gold Level status to the school.”
The school is one of only five based in the North West to achieve the Gold Level, and the first school in the Wirral.
Sian Thomas, WKS CEO, said: "This is a milestone moment for our school. We have been proud recipients of the Silver Level Award before, but now we are the first school in the area to have ever secured the Gold Award. This is amazing news for our school and our immediate community. Our school is wholeheartedly dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming and compassionate environment where all children and young people can heal and flourish. Achieving the ATSSA Gold Level Award means so much to our staff who all work so hard to make this happen.
“The difference is, however, that a Gold Award means that we are also playing a much wider role in supporting young people who are facing challenges and adversity. The more people we can help, the more rewarding and beneficial our work is. “I would like to applaud all our staff and governors for their dedication and commitment - this award truly is a team effort.”
The Award functions as a quality mark for schools, demonstrating an organisations’ commitment to ensuring all staff have a good knowledge of the needs of children and young people who have experienced adversity, and of the strategies and resources available to meet such needs - with a view to promoting better learning and mental/physical health outcomes for all learners.
The awarding letter is below which highlights strengths of the school and more information.
Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Award Silver Award - May 2020
In June 2021 West Kirby School and College achieved the Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Award Silver status, following achieving the Bronze status Award in May 2020.
The first school in Wirral and one of only 4 in the North West. It affirms that children and young people are firmly at the centre of all we do.
Miss Sian Thomas, Principal, comments 'I feel very proud to be leading a school where the staff are driven and dedicated towards helping young people across a range of divergent needs. As a school we work hard to ensure that we are equipped to enable pupils to thrive and flourish. This Silver Award clearly demonstrates the commitment of our staff towards achieving this.'
Celebrating our “commitment to embracing inclusion at its best, successfully removing barriers to learning and participation in the life of the school.” ATSSA, June 2021
The Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Award (ATSSA), accredited by Jennifer Nock Training and Consultancy, is recognition of commitment to the steps the school has taken to further develop a culture of compassion and nurture. This plays a pivotal role in getting our children and young people into a state of ‘learning readiness’.
Dr Jennifer A Nock highlighted “The school evidenced a richness and depth of understanding and practice, particularly relating to sensory and emotional assessment and provision. Therapy is not something that the school simply provides, rather, the environment itself and the relationships therein are therapeutic.” and added “Commitment to developing a culture of attachment and trauma sensitivity has been demonstrated through a high investment in CPD.”
The Award is only issued to those educational establishments that can demonstrate that they have met its rigorous quality standards and can maintain them over time.
Pastoral Care Manager, involved in the Award process says “We are delighted to have achieved Silver status and it demonstrates our commitment towards being a school environment that is inclusive, compassionate and caring to everyone in our community.”
Additionally, Mr Stephen Peacock, Parent Governor expressed “This encapsulates the energy running through the school at the moment.”
Dr Jennifer A Nock, Award Accreditor, told the school “We hope you will feel particularly privileged to share your journey, which has been achieved during a particularly challenging time.”
Accreditor Dr Jennifer Nock highlighted there were a number of points worthy of significant mention:
- West Kirby School and College is attachment and trauma responsive, with systems, practices, values and principles that are infused with sensitivity to trauma; thus, ‘therapy is not something that the school simply provides, rather, the environment itself and the relationships therein are therapeutic.’
- The personalised, individual approach to all pupils is evidenced through numerous practices. Knowledge of each pupil’s developmental needs underpins relationships, interactions and planning. This is a particular strength of the school.
- Commitment to developing a culture of attachment and trauma sensitivity has been demonstrated through a high investment in CPD. The passion of the Leadership Team has led to a shared vision of how to deliver the best experiences and outcomes for all pupils.
- You have a range of strategies in place for supporting parents in understanding child development and attachment relationships.
- You demonstrate deep compassion in relation to the daily struggles that families face. This is a particular strength of the school.
- The school evidenced a richness and depth of understanding and practice, particularly relating to sensory and emotional assessment and provision. This is a particular strength of the school.
- Attention to staff mental health and wellbeing is high on the agenda of the leadership team. All staff interviews expressed high levels of job satisfaction.
- There is a shared belief that relationship based practice provides the foundation for progress
- Trauma sensitivity is embedded across the setting, and relationships are central to practice. The evidence provided really highlighted this.
- Attachment and trauma sensitivity at the school is organic, constantly evolving and developing.
To read the full awarding letter and feedback click below
To find out more about this award visit www.attachmentandtraumasensitiveschoolsaward.com
“Therapy is not something that the school simply provides, rather, the environment itself and the relationships therein are therapeutic.”
“Commitment to embracing inclusion at its best, successfully removing barriers to learning and participation in the life of the school”