Staff ‘trauma training’ that helps schoolchildren deal with stressful experiences has seen exclusions in one Harpurhey school plummet by 88 percent.
Oasis Academy Harpur Mount said that a new pilot programme - that trains staff and parents on how to help children who have experienced abuse, neglect, bullying and other traumatic experiences - has had a huge impact at the school.
And one Harpurhey councillor said that no other scheme had such a positive impact on the area over the past two decades.
The programme was piloted in Harpurhey last year and is scheduled to roll out to other parts of the city over the next three years.
It focuses on supporting children with ‘adverse childhood experiences’ or ‘ACEs’, such as poverty, homelessness, cyber bullying or family substance misuse, and understanding their behaviour.
National statistics show that around 10 percent of people have experienced four or more ACEs.
Over the past year, council staff have worked with hundreds of professionals from schools, police, housing associations, youth justice and voluntary sector to implement a ‘trauma-informed approach to their everyday practice’.
Gareth Nixon, the officer leading the project, presented the programme to Manchester’s full council earlier this month.
He said “By adopting trauma informed approaches every one of us can support individuals and families to build resilience and use protective factors to buffer the impact of trauma. By understanding that every interaction can be an intervention we can prevent ACEs in future generations.”
In the Oasis Academy, half of the staff have been ‘ACE’ trained.
A vice principal at the primary school told a council meeting earlier this month: “It’s given people a real understanding of how our pupils and staff may have experienced trauma.”
‘Well-being’ and ‘calm down’ rooms have been brought in to the school, while staff have been taught how to avoid traumatic ‘triggers’.
There has also been a move away from short term exclusions, and instead focus on working with the child who has been in crisis, she said.
And the training means that more support is offered within the school, rather than referring children to outside agencies, she added.
Group sessions have also been offered for parents who have experienced their own childhood traumas.
But the pilot programme hasn’t just focused on schools.
A council officer said that Manchester’s Youth Zone youth club implemented a scheme focusing on children with several ACEs at risk of criminal exploitation, which had seen a huge increase in confidence level, health, aspirations and emotional management skills compared to the previous cohort.
In the housing sector, officers who work mainly with single men over 50 have focused on hoarding. They told Manchester’s full council meeting last week that the work they had done under the scheme had prevented evictions and saved £50,000 in the process.
The programme - which received £170,000 in council funding - had already saved £633,000, officers said.
Harpurhey councillor Joanne Green, who has been an elected member for the area for 20 years, said: “Honestly say I’ve never come across a project such as this where I’ve seen such a positive impact.”
And ward councillor Pat Karney said: “Thank you for the valuable and pioneering work you’ve done. This project has opened our eyes on how agencies should work together with local people. It’s had the biggest impact in our area of social intervention for years.”
The programme is also being rolled out to Wythenshawe, as well as Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall and Higher Blackley and Charlestown.
Article by Mari Eccles - Local Democracy Reporting Service, Manchester Evening News