Wee Breathers

Supporting the education workforce through relationships

‘Making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up and learn’ is one of the many commitments which have provided the policy and legislative context for life in Scotland, over the past decade.

SAIA’s research ‘Mapping Attachment-Informed and Trauma-Sensitive Practice in Scottish Education’ echoes The Promise, that an attachment and trauma-informed workforce built upon supportive relationships will enable Scotland to keep the promise.

‘Schools in Scotland must provide space and opportunity for all members of school staff to develop kind, supportive relationships with care experienced children.’ Promise P71.

However, there is currently no consistent structure in place to provide staff with safe and confidential spaces to gain insight into the needs of pupils in their classrooms who have experienced disrupted attachment and, or trauma. Teachers act as ’emotional containers’ for the children in their care. They support those who are overwhelmed, distressed and sometimes abusive and are expected to soothe, listen, contain, and work magic.

Practitioners need at least one supportive containing relationship, somewhere that stressful experiences can be explored, reflected upon, and learned from. Wtihout access to this type of support, teachers are at risk of feeling isolated in trying to help pupils with extreme levels of distress without access to appropriate opportunities for emotional regulation themselves. The potential for teachers to reach burn out, taking extended sick leave, leaving the profession early or taking premature retirement due to poor mental or physical health is a real threat to our education system.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland reported recently that more than 1,300 teachers have left the profession within the first five years of their career since 2018.

New figures obtained by Tes Scotland show almost one in five probationer teachers on this year’s induction scheme had opted out by January.

Teacher absence in Scotland hits highest level in over a decade. Teachers in Scotland took an average of 6.8 sick days in 2022-23 – the highest level of absence since councils started tracking the data in 2010-11.

For children and young people to have a better outcomes we need healthy teachers.

Scottish Attachment in Action has received funding from The Promise Partnership, Corra foundation on behalf of Scottish Government to lead a test for change, offering reflective spaces to education practitioners, supporting supervision to become and essential component of their practice.

The SAIA Wee BREATHERS project provides attachment-informed, trauma sensitive reflective supervision sessions that offer education colleagues protected time to connect, reflect and learn within a safe and confidential space. Wee BREATHERS will allow staff to gain insight into the needs of pupils in their classrooms who have experienced disrupted attachment and trauma and have the skills and agency to make the difference.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Brené Brown

SAIA researched supervision models used in other professions as well as models that have been tried previously within education to see how best supervision could be delivered. Through collaboration with practitioners and young people, we developed an education specific framework based on attachment theory. Our Wee BREATHERS model has connection at the heart.

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