Tackling childhood trauma at Scottish Learning Festival
Jaz Ampaw-Farr, a keynote speaker at this year’s Scottish Learning Festival (SLF), knows all about the effects of adversity and trauma on children and how the influence of teachers can impact on their wellbeing.
As an eight-year-old schoolgirl, Jaz was separated from her family and placed in care, where she endured years of abuse.
During an online TEDx Talk, she talks about the importance of five teachers in helping her repair the damage to her sense of self by showing that they were “human first, teacher second”.
Jaz said: “I was a broken little girl who believed she was worthless, but school was where I laughed.
“One teacher, Mr Williams, asked me about my bruises, and told me he thought I was protecting someone but that it was his role to protect and look out for me.
“My true pain was reflected in his face and this showed me he cared. He had a vision of success for me and he enabled that broken little girl to become…me.”
This year’s SLF has a strong focus on health and wellbeing – and Education Scotland is committed to ensuring a positive school culture nationally.
The resource is helping upper primary children by developing their confidence, resilience, compassion and empathy.
It is available to all educational practitioners on Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub website. Since its launch, it has had the most page views on the Hub, highlighting the fact that many teachers have pupils who are facing very real struggles.
Importantly, it forms part of a wider set of materials that includes a professional learning resource to support teachers’ understanding of adversity and trauma.
HM Chief Inspector of Education Gayle Gorman said: “Trauma and adversity can both have a major impact on children’s wellbeing and mental health.
“That’s why this resource has been designed to specifically support the mental wellbeing of children and to build teacher confidence in exploring these issues with children.
“The key to the successful implementation of this resource is the role of the teacher in creating a positive ethos and culture of respect and trust in the class.
“Children affected by trauma may be resistant to opening up to others and this has to be noticed, understood and respected.
“So the willingness of the teacher to approach and engage in discussion, without judgement and with empathy and compassion, is crucial.
“Importantly, teachers will also be encouraged to look at what lies beneath behaviour and to support children and young people’s unmet needs which may arise as a result of adversity and trauma.’’
Barnardo’s Scotland works with more than 16,300 children and young people in more than 140 specialised community-based services, as well as partnerships with more than 400 schools across Scotland.
Nicki Lawrence, Policy Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing for Barnardo’s Scotland said: “From our frontline work in schools, we see first-hand the impact of trauma on children and young people and how this can manifest as distressed behaviour.
“We believe that trauma-informed and responsive adults working with all children and young people in a relational way can have a huge impact, because we know that children and young people need safe, stable, trusting relationships in order to heal and recover from trauma, and lay the foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing.”
The Compassionate and Connected Classroom supports delivery of ‘Responsibility of All’ within Curriculum for Excellence and follows the ethos of Getting in Right for Every Child by recognising that every child has the right to expect adults to allow them to reach their full potential.
As Jaz Ampaw-Farr says to her teacher audiences: “I broke the cycle, but there are still children out there who need heroes. YOU can transform a life.
Scottish Learning Festival Online
Scottish Education Expo SEC Exhibition Way Glasgow G3 8YW