Evaluation of Attachment Aware Schools

The Attachment Aware Schools Programme was initially developed as a partnership between Bath Spa University, Bath and North East Somerset Council and the National College for Teaching and Leadership and a range of third sector organisations, attachment specialists and schools. 

The Rees Centre was invited to evaluate programmes run by Bath and North East Somerset Council (October 2015-July 2016), Leicestershire County Council (October 2016-July 2017) and Stoke on Trent (2016-2017).  All three local authorities engaged Kate Cairns Associates to deliver the programmes. In Bath and NE Somerset, 25 school staff participated. Mainly teachers, they were from 16 schools (6 secondary, 7 primary, 1 middle and two special schools). In Leicestershire, staff from 24 schools participated – including one school offering alternative provision, three secondary schools, fifteen primary schools, one infant school and two junior schools – with Kate Cairns Associates delivering whole staff sessions in these schools. In Stoke, seven primary schools, three secondary schools and two special schools participated. 


Most participants commented positively on the impact that the Programme had had on their own attitudes, practice and confidence. The quality of training was reported to be a major factor in this.

Participants described changes in their practice, in particular recognising emotions while managing behaviours, changing communication styles and language used with pupils and other staff and for nearly all the participants, use of emotion coaching.

School staff and pupils described the school environment as having become calmer and more nurturing.

Staff and pupils gave examples of non-teaching staff’s positive responses and effective approaches.

Impact on pupils’ well-being was evidenced by staff and pupils. One factor contributing to this seemed to be providing spaces in which children can calm down and self-regulate, another was having a significant adult in school that the pupil trusted.

Senior leader commitment, support and resource allocation was crucial to effective engagement in the Programme and it having an impact on the school.


Four areas need to be targeted:

Initial teacher training – Many of those in this evaluation expressed a severe lack of confidence in addressing the needs of pupils who had experienced trauma. Very few teacher training programmes currently address attachment and the effects of trauma despite knowledge and understanding of this now being a requirement in the teaching standards.

Professional development of all school staff is needed as all are involved in responding to behaviour. These evaluations demonstrate the importance and potential changes that can be brought about by the wider school staff receiving development on attachment and trauma.

Governors – the few who participated in the evaluation seemed relatively unaware of the issues and not engaged in these developments in school. This needs to be addressed through governor training.

Adults outside school with whom vulnerable pupils are in contact – parents, foster carers and social workers need to be adopting a consistent approach to that being implemented in the schools. There were examples in which schools engaging parents/carers in the training had been beneficial.


Leicestershire Attachment Aware Schools Programme Evaluation Report (pdf)

Key Messages Leicestershire Attachment Aware Schools Programme Evaluation (pdf)

Bath and North East Somerset Attachment Aware Schools Programme Evaluation Report (pdf)

Key Messages Bath and North East Somerset Attachment Aware Schools Programme Evaluation (pdf)

Stoke on Trent Attachment Aware Schools Programme Evaluation Report (pdf)

Key Messages Stoke OnTrent Attachment Aware Schools Evaluation (pdf)

Attachment awareness: Implications for schools

Watch now on YouTube. Workshop looking at findings arising from the Rees Centre evaluation of Attachment Aware programmes in 3 local authorities. Sep 2018