February 19, 2019

Together, let’s help to make all schools Trauma-Aware!

This blog was written by Dr. Judith Howard,
a Senior Lecturer and researcher from
the Queensland University of Technology.

In most schools, and in many classrooms, there are students who have experienced complex childhood trauma who would benefit immensely from a system-wide, trauma-aware approach to schooling.  Despite the best intentions of schools and many school leaders, suspension, exclusion and disengagement rates of students living with the outcomes of complex trauma remain high across the country.

Unfortunately, when trauma-impacted students are suspended, excluded or disengage from school, the great work of trauma-informed support organisations and specialists can be impaired.  This is particularly worrying for children and young people who live in out-of-home care.

Thankfully, research explaining the impact that complex childhood trauma has on experiences and outcomes for students during the schooling years is driving a national and international reassessment of school approaches to student support and school behaviour management!

Drawing from a combination of the science of child and adolescent development, the prevalence and impact of adverse childhood experiences and the neurobiological and intergenerational consequences of complex trauma, this research is revolutionising practice in the areas of health and mental health, social services, youth justice, and now schooling!

As a result of research and activity led from the Queensland University of Technology, there has been rapidly growing interest in what is being referred to as “Trauma-Aware Schooling” and an increased understanding of the need for education systems to adopt trauma-aware frameworks.

QUT has developed a trauma-aware schooling elective that is offered to all pre-service teachers and continues to develop a range of online and post-graduate options for professional development of school personnel wanting to grow their understanding and skill or lead in this work.

One exciting outcome of this work at QUT is the biennial “Trauma-Aware Schooling Conference” which is held at the Brisbane Convention Centre in Southbank.  The inaugural event was held in 2017 and drew keen interest from across Australia and New Zealand, leading to an expansion of trauma-aware thinking and practice across Australian schools and schooling systems.

The Australian Childhood Foundation is partnering with QUT this year, to deliver the “Trauma-Aware Schooling Conference” on the 20th and 21st June!

School leaders, student support personnel, teachers and others who work to support children and young people living with the outcomes of complex trauma are encouraged to attend.  Delegates will hear the latest research, attend practical workshops to assist with school implementation and will network with other keen practitioners from across Australia and overseas.  It will be exciting to hear from national and international leaders in trauma-aware schooling in person!

Click here to sign up to receive updates about the conference and please share this with any schools or school personnel in your “spheres of influence”.

Together, let’s continue to grow “Trauma-Aware Schooling” across our country!