Our Trauma Informed Approach

Our Trauma Informed Approach

Arnold the Wonder Dog

Castle Hill Infant and Junior Schools has been successful in achieving a Trauma and Mental Health Informed School Award from Trauma Informed Schools UK.

We have been celebrated in the news for our approach: https://twitter.com/i/status/1147456440854093826
If you would like to read our accreditation report please click here

In practice this means that our approach includes:

  • Providing vulnerable children with daily access to at least one named, emotionally-available adult, who believes in them, relates to them with compassion, empathy and unconditional positive regard (Carl Rogers), provides appropriate limit setting, understands their attachment and mental health needs, knows their life story, and offers repeated enriched relational, regulatory and reflective opportunities.
  • Catching children as they are ‘falling’ not after they have fallen. When the child is experiencing a painful life event, the emotionally-available adult/s will help them process, work through and make sense of what has happened, rather than waiting until the pain of the trauma has transformed into challenging behaviour and/or physical and mental health problems.
  • The implementation of a Relationship Policy (Paul Dix) for all staff to ensure they interact with children at all times with kindness and compassion. This includes no shouting, put-downs, criticisms, and shaming. The Policy extends to training staff in the art of good listening, understanding and finding the words to convey accurate empathy.
  • A commitment to relating to children in a school or other setting in ways that help them feel calm, soothed and safe, instead of over- stimulated, bombarded and anxious. This means protecting them from toxic stress inducing situations.
  • Staff/adults interacting with all children in such a way that they feel valued as individuals throughout their day
  • Staff/adults adjusting their expectations of vulnerable children to correspond with their developmental capabilities and experience of traumatic stress.
  • Training staff/adults in key conversational skills to enable children to address negative self-referencing and to help them move from ‘behaving’ their trauma/painful life experiences, to reflecting and developing coherent life narratives.

Our Trauma Informed Practioners

We have four Trauma Informed Practitioners who have undertaken a Level 5 diploma which has enabled them to have key insights into the psychology and neuroscience of mental ill- health and challenging behaviour alongside vital tools and techniques in knowing how to respond to a child’s narrative of painful life events. So often this is enough to prevent years of suffering and the medicalising of their distress with psychiatric labels and medication. Delegates will also be trained to know when to seek the support of psychologist-led supervision, and when, due to limits of competence, to refer on.

Our practitioners are:

Mrs Andrews, Mrs Pattinson, Mrs Allum and Miss Smith.

Miss Smith is available full time for all of the children in our school, she has a nurture base which is designed to be more close to home, than a classroom.  

Mrs Allum is available for our families and often supports them to carry out this approach at home, providing them with activities and ideas.  


Use of Motional and our PSHE


Motional measures the different emotional systems in the brain (CARE, SEEKING, PLAY, FEAR, RAGE, PANIC/GRIEF based on Professor Jaak Panksepp’s work) and several key executive function skills (handling stress, thinking & concentration, confidence & self-esteem, interpersonal skills, and emotional literacy – written by Dr Margot Sunderland) to give a whole brain picture of a child’s emotional and mental health.

We carry out termly universal group assessments of our classes and use Motional to write a specific program for the class based on their specific needs.  These are discussed at our pupil progress meetings. 

For children who need a more specific approach an individual universal or, in some cases, comprehensive assessment is carried out.  This allows us to develop individual programs which is either delivered by the class teacher/year team or by one of the Trauma Informed practitioners.  


For more information please click the picture below.



SWERL programme

We are currently carrying out an action research project of our provision in partnership with the Ipswich Opportunity Area and University College London.  


Arnold the Wonder Dog

We are also visited one day a week by Arnold the Wonder Dog, a therapy dog with magical powers for supporting children!  Please visit Arnold at his website here:


If you are interested in this approach we recommend reading either of these books or watching the TED talk below:

Click here to read more about Trauma Informed schools