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Page last updated: 29/08/2023

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What if the tool we had overlooked - ourselves - was the bridge into a world of possibilities, that a genuine relationship with us, perhaps acting as a buffer, could switch on the pupils 'thinking brain' and integrate it with his 'emotional brain'?"

Louise Bomber, Settling to Learn 2013

Attachment is one of the most discussed issues that impact on the emotional wellbeing and a child’s readiness to learn for children in care. It is well known that children can't learn effectively if they are preoccupied emotionally by anxieties and fears: about life at home; about friendships and bullying; about falling behind in class. Children spend around 5-6 hours a day in school, so this gives teachers a powerful opportunity to be significant attachment figures for children. When a teacher becomes secure base and safe haven the evidence is now strong that this accelerates significantly the child's learning potential as well as enhances their feelings of achievement, self-worth and social competence. 

Our Attachment Aware Schools training programme that has been developed with the Educational Psychology Service and was launched in May 2016 and reviewed in January 2020.

These are a few of the comments from the sessions:

"This has been an excellent, interesting and informative session. I was concerned this might be 'just one more initiative' when it is clearly not and will be beneficial for staff and children. Thank you"

"Thank you - part of a suite of good information from the Virtual School"

"I will talk to senior leaders at school about what I have learned. I will deliver whole school training to school staff. The resources on the memory stick are of good quality and will be very useful to use with the school team"

Training session dates - please note that the accreditation criteria changed for schools attending training from January 2020.

​Places on this training are limited and therefore initially we can only accommodate one delegate from a school.  As this popular course is always oversubscribed can you please let us know as soon as you can if you book a place and then cannot attend. 

Attachment Aware Accreditation Process from January 2020.

Attachment Awareness Accreditation for schools is organised in three phases: Bronze, Silver and Gold level. Each level has a specific criterion for schools to meet.

1st Phase – Bronze certificate:

  • Training is attended by a member of the Senior Leadership Team/SEND coordinator organised by the Virtual School and lead by the Educational Psychology Service as signposted on the Virtual School web site. Training for staff to be 2 hours

  • Attendance record with details of number attending and the roles of staff attending training.

  • Case study of a young person.

  • Pre and post audit.

  • Evaluations collated after the training.  

2nd Phase – Silver certificate:

  • School Development Plan to include Learning Objectives and Success Criteria on Attachment Awareness

  • Evidence of Induction Training for new staff (roles), attendance record with details of number attending and the roles of staff attending training.

  • Criteria for an Attachment Awareness school to be completed.

3rd Phase – Gold certificate:

  • Evaluation of Learning Objective from School Development Plan.

  • Timetable a 1hour reflection and discussion in service with staff – outcomes to be recorded.

  • Evidence of Induction Training for new staff (roles), attendance record with details of number attending and the roles of staff attending training.

  • This phase may require a visit from the Virtual School to ensure that Attachment Awareness is embedded throughout the ethos of the educational setting.

For more information please click on the below links.

Accredited Schools

Schools accredited using the new Attachment Aware Accreditation criteria (From Jan 2020):

The Belsteads School - Bronze, Silver and GOLD*

Cherry Tree Primary School - Bronze and Silver

Crays Hill Primary school - Bronze​

Great Easton C of E (VA) Primary School - Bronze

Great Leighs Primary School – Bronze

Little Waltham CEVA Primary School- Bronze

Noak Bridge Primary School – Bronze

Northlands Primary School - Bronze

Open Box Education Centre, Epping- Bronze, Silver  and GOLD*

Paxman Academy School - Bronze

Spring Meadow Primary School – Bronze and Silver

St Andrews Primary School at North Weald - Bronze

St Margaret's Prep School - Bronze

Thomas Willingale School and Nursery - Bronze, Silver and Gold*

Woodcroft Nursery School – Bronze and Silver

Wyburns Primary School – Bronze

If you have attended the attachment training and completed the certification process please ensure you submit your evidence to​


These useful resources provide an insight and guidance on working with children and young people that are in care, or who have previously experienced trauma:

​​​​Recommended books on attachment include (click on the picture to go to the title)

  • ​Inside I'm hurting, By Louise Bomber. Worth Publishing ISBN-10: 1903269113
  • Attachment in the classroom, by Dr Heather Geddes. Worth Publishing ISBN-10: 1903269083
  • Teenagers and attachment, by Louise Bomber and others. Worth Publishing ISBN-10: 190326913X​

Improving the emotional wellbeing of children in care

The NSPCC has published a range of new resources about improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children in care. Louise Bazalgette leads on this work for NSPCC.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​