What schools and further education settings can do

With the right support, children and young people can recover from trauma, especially if the adults they are in contact with are understanding and responsive to their needs.

If you are at all concerned about a child or young person, you should always speak to your designated safeguarding lead as a matter of priority. They will be able to advise on suitable next steps, and speaking to them about any concerns should always be the first action you take, ahead of any of the suggestions on this page.

Although the suggestions on this page are broadly split into primary and secondary age groups, the majority of the advice can be applicable for all ages. All children and young people are different, and it’s important to understand the needs of the individual child and young person when looking for ways to support their mental health and wellbeing.

What primary schools can do

Nurture supportive relationships

Relationships in the classroom/school that are built on trust, safety and security can also be protective when children are affected by trauma – encouraging them to open up and talk.

Develop social and emotional skills

These skills help prevent children being overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings as well as helping them to learn effective coping skills in the face of challenging events. These skills can also help children connect with, label, express and process emotions in a healthy way, which is an important protective factor for mental health.

Explore other avenues of support

If children have experienced traumatic events, they may need extra help, either through school pastoral care/counselling support, through referral to the school nurse or through referral to community-based support.

What secondary schools and further education settings can do

Build trusting relationships

Relationships in the classroom/school that are built on trust, safety and security can help young people impacted by trauma, encouraging them to open up and talk.

Understand challenging behaviour as a potential symptom of trauma

If a young person is display challenging behaviour, it’s important that schools and settings understand that these behaviours may be a symptom of trauma, and are a way for young people to communicate how they are feeling.

Help young people access extra support

Some young people will need referral onto community-based support and may need trauma-based expertise (e.g. early help, voluntary sector counselling or specialist CAMHS support).

Support staff wellbeing

Helping a traumatised child can be overwhelming for staff, and they may even experience symptoms of ‘secondary trauma’. Find out more about this and how to support staff on Education Support’s website.

Concerned about a child or young person?

If you are worried that a child or young person is at risk involve your designated safeguarding lead as a matter of priority who will contact the parents/carers and other services as necessary. If the child or young person is at immediate risk, ensure that they are taken to their GP or A&E as a matter of urgency, depending on the severity of the concern.

Find out more

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