A pioneering project run here in East Lothian is helping to inform a national campaign on raising awareness around attachment issues for adopted and looked after children.
Iain Gray MSP met with representatives of Adoption UK at Holyrood to learn more about the Attachment Ambassadors’ Project which the charity has been running in the North Berwick schools cluster.
The project aims to raise awareness of attachment issues and early trauma which can put children at a significant disadvantage in schools unless handled with sensitivity, understanding and appropriate responses to challenging behaviour.
The project ran a series of workshops and training events for teachers, other school staff and parents, covering issues such as child development, inclusion and peer support. An in-service day conference on attachment, relationships and resilience was also attended by 130 teachers.
Six teachers, one in each cluster school, subsequently became Attachment Ambassadors, attending training provided by Adoption UK and receiving ongoing support in the form of group and 1 to 1 meetings.
Following the success of the project in the North Berwick cluster, the charity is planning to roll out the same project structure in schools in the Haddington and Lammermuir partnership area.
At the same time as this local project was being delivered, Adoption UK has been developing its Equal Chance campaign to make every school attachment-aware and raise awareness of the systemic changes needed to give adopted children the same chances as their peers.
The campaign launches on 27th June and Iain Gray MSP will host a reception at the Scottish Parliament on 4th September to highlight the campaign and its objectives to MSPs and the Scottish Government.
Iain Gray MSP said “I was pleased to meet with representatives of Adoption UK and find out more about its Attachment Ambassadors’ Project. The project has clearly been a big success in the North Berwick cluster, with teachers, other staff, parents and pupils themselves all benefiting from the training and support it has provided.
“We know that looked after and adopted children can face particular challenges at school, so it’s really positive to see East Lothian playing an important part in helping to increase understanding of children’s experience of attachment issues and how schools can better support them.
“The experience in schools in the North Berwick cluster shows that the project is not only beneficial for adopted children but that all children can benefit from increased awareness and understanding of attachment issues, relationships and resilience, as well as behaviour management approaches.
“I am sure that the Haddington cluster project will go on to be a similar success, and look forward to helping promote the charity’s Equal Chance campaign at their parliamentary reception later in the year.”
Fiona Aitken, Adoption UK’s Director, Scotland, said: “We are grateful to have received funding to continue our work in schools in East Lothian – our continued presence in the area allows us to offer ongoing support to teachers and schools who have implemented our Attachment Ambassador programme.
“This programme, led by our education project manager and adoptive parent Kathy Allan, offers an opportunity for all children to benefit from school staff team’s increased knowledge and awareness of trauma and attachment issues.
“Our Equal Chance campaign is designed to offer adopted children the same chance as their peers in school, through programmes such as ours and encouragement of others to ensure their needs are better met and understood in their educational placement. Adopted and care experienced children are at a disadvantage due to their early experiences – we want to change their experiences of school to support them to achieve their potential.
“We are delighted to be highlighting this campaign at our parliamentary event on 4th September, and very pleased to have the support of Mr Gray in the campaign and through the sponsorship of this event.”