Derbyshire County Council Virtual School established their (AAS) programme in April 2015, with 17 schools. Since then, 87 schools across Derbyshire have graduated AAS and have implemented attachment aware and trauma informed practices.
1) Two school representatives, one from senior leadership, attend six full-day training sessions over a one-year programme. This taught element of the programme informs the strategic approach to school development and transformation.
SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
2) A Virtual School AAS programme lead supports the school to develop a plan for school change.
3) Each school uses the knowledge developed through the training to instigate an action research project (Kelly et al., 2020) to develop AA/TI practice across the school.
4) Those who have completed, or are still on the programme form school cluster networks to provide a sustained community of practice beyond the initial implementation year.
Approach: Schools are made aware that they are beginning an ongoing journey of change that will take time to fully embed. Schools invest time and considerable effort during and after the programme to reflect upon the ethos and culture of their school. The Virtual School AAS programme lead has seen changes to culture that result in schools that look, sound or feel different to when they began the journey.
Robust professional relationships between the schools and virtual school has been key. This relationship is characterised by two things; to bring support and challenge.
The support helps schools keep driving the implementation work for the action research project. Using the evaluation framework, the Virtual School AAS lead can help retain a focus on the project, and review progress and challenge schools to extend their vision about what could be achieved in the future.
This programme led schools to think about the ‘why’ of what they do rather than only focusing on ‘how’ to do attachment aware and trauma informed approaches.