A SPECIALIST school in Taunton that provides alternative education provision to children in care has received the gold Attachment and Trauma Sensitive School Award (ATSSA).

 Park House School received the nationally recognised award for its commitment to building a culture of attachment and trauma sensitivity.

To be eligible for the award the school must prove they have taken steps to provide educational provision that is sensitive to children who have faced adversity. Park House School provides specialist support to children aged eight to 19 who have had to overcome trauma and adversity and struggle in mainstream school.

Many of the children that attend Park House School are currently in foster care or live in children’s residential homes and have learning or behavioural issues and find mainstream school challenging.

Park House provides tailored support and does not base achievement on standardised testing, but helps each child reach their own academic targets.

This, paired with specially trained teachers and support staff, helps to ensure that children in care attend school and receive an education.  The school is part of Five Rivers Child Care, a nationwide social enterprise providing therapeutic children’s services.   To be eligible for the gold award, Park House School was required to present adequate evidence that it met all criteria which ensures that all aspects of the school reference attachment and trauma-informed practice.

This includes the physical environment, recruitment, and people management, all forms of communication and that they are a beacon of best practice for other schools working towards attachment and trauma-sensitive practice.

  James Hall, Head of Education at Five Rivers Child Care, said: “This is such fantastic news to end the year on. We have invested a lot of time this year in making Park House School, and all of our Fiver Rivers’ schools, attachment and trauma-informed and are thrilled to have been awarded the gold award.”

Dr Jennifer A Nock, who is responsible for granting the ATSSA Awards, said: “It would be impossible to communicate adequately in this letter the breadth and richness of your practice.

“In short, Park House School is a trauma-informed and trauma-responsive organisation, which prioritises humanising systems, making them healthier, more relational and interpersonal, more integrated, more reflective, and more interconnected, not only focusing on the pupil population but by ensuring that trauma-informed knowledge, language, values, principles, assumptions and processes are embedded deep into the culture of the organisation; and are owned and shaped by everyone who is a part, regardless of role.”

For more information about Five Rivers Child Care, please visit: www.five-rivers.org.