Improving learner outcomes

Attachment and Trauma course

Many factors can lead to attachment and trauma difficulties, such as social neglect or deprivation, repeated changes of primary caregivers, living in areas of social and economic deprivation, trauma experienced as a result of conflict or by refugees, and the early experiences of adopted children continuing to affect their lives.

Learners with attachment and trauma difficulties may:

  • have difficulties forming strong attachments and relationships
  • display a consistent pattern of withdrawn behaviour towards caregivers
  • have episodes of unexplained irritability sadness or fearfulness in non-threatening interactions
  • display reduced reticence in approaching and interacting with unfamiliar adults
  • be overly familiar in ways that are not culturally acceptable or age appropriate
  • be prone to either lashing out, or running away and withdrawing from social situations

The course draws on the work and attachment-informed practice of Yarrame School in Melbourne, and builds on the model of attachment training and research carried out by Bath Spa University. It looks at the impact attachment and trauma difficulties can have on a learner’s life. It shows how you can make your classroom and practice more inclusive for these learners and offers practical assessment ideas and intervention strategies.

The course is CPD certified for 20 hours of learning.

On successful completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of inclusive practices in ensuring good life outcomes
  • Discuss the origins of attachment theory and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses
  • Describe the four attachment styles
  • Use simple assessment tools and teacher checklists to Identify attachment difficulties
  • Set SMART goals and practical interventions for improving learner outcomes
  • Describe strategies for working with each type of attachment style
  • Discuss the power of relationships and apply the process of personalising learning
  • Respond effectively to challenging incidents including self-care
  • Offer personalised support within a Response to Intervention Framework
  • Plan and deliver a whole school attachment aware approach

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Feedback from our participants

I strongly believe in the value of attachment theory and think it has significant application for us as educators. It has the capacity to help teachers better understand their students, be more attuned to their needs, respond to them more appropriately, be more empathic, interpret their behaviour with more accuracy and plan and develop better supports for them. If teachers can better understand their students and meet their needs, they will be supporting the student in their social, emotional, behavioural and cognitive growth and facilitating greater access to the curriculum. Forming positive, supportive relationships can assist students to develop the capacity for establishing secure attachments and have significant lasting impacts in their lives.


Having an understanding of attachment theory and how disrupted attachment experiences can manifest in different attachment styles and behaviour is incredibly important when working with children, particularly when those children have experienced trauma. Applying this lens to the behaviour I see in the classroom, enables me to understand my student's behaviour as communication. When I recognise behaviour as a student communicating a need, I am able to reflect on how best to respond to and support the student. Remembering that children have often developed their insecure attachment styles in response to neglectful, inconsistent or abusive care also helps me to maintain empathy for my students and recognise that their behaviour is often not wilfully disruptive or defiant but is reflective of how they had their needs met (or not) in their early years.


Providing structured choices throughout the school day is a strategy I have adopted with children who have a need to exert control. These are often children who have experienced a lack of control and autonomy in their early years. Providing them with regular opportunities to make choices and control their immediate environment can assist in avoiding power battles and oppositional behaviour. The choices do not need to be big or significant to have an impact on the child’s experience of the classroom.


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