Spen Valley High School

Spen Valley started the Alex Timpson Programme in 2019. The school-wide approach was important to staff at this school, with the senior leaders, teachers and administrative staff valued as part of the team to support pupils. It was recognised that by including all staff in the training and the development journey it sends a consistent message about the importance of the attachment aware and trauma informed approach to all.

Staff identified that “courageous” senior leaders who role model the approach facilitate progress in making school-wide change.

Key to the ongoing journey for Spen Valley was the high quality training provided by Kirklees and the supportive relationship between the EPS and the school. The headteacher emphasised that:

“It can’t just be that you … do the training and then you become a trauma-informed school. You have to look at a lot of other things as well”. This illustrates how this programme is more than a standalone training session, but that staff commit to review and change school-wide practices. Examples were given of how new in-school centres to provide pupil support had been established, staff recruitment and induction processes had changed, and curriculum had been reviewed to align with attachment aware and trauma informed practice. The impact of these changes has seen fewer pupils removed from lessons, and a reduction in fixed term exclusions. Pupils have also reported to an external leadership review that they believe the behaviour in school is better than it used to be. There is also a focus on supporting staff wellbeing so they are in a position to support pupils.

The sustainability of their school-wide approach stems from the new staff recruitment strategies which explore attachment aware and trauma informed principles with applicants. Spen Valley are also considering how to contribute to other schools embarking on a similar journey, to help Kirklees promote attachment aware and trauma informed practice.