Teachers must better understand the effects of trauma on pupils

Officers of Oldham Council are implementing a programme to ensure that teachers are properly informed on the subject of childhood trauma and ‘stress hormones’

According to Manchester Evening News, Oldham Council officers have stated that teachers need a better understanding of ‘stress hormones’ and how they affect pupils before excluding or suspending them.

They say that childhood trauma can cause children to react in a variety of ways within the school environment, and this can be exacerbated by stress.

As such, and to ensure school staff react appropriately, the borough will begin training teachers to better understand the needs of traumatised youngsters and help to bring down the number being excluded from school.

Andrew Sutherland, Oldham’s director of education and early years, said during a council meting: “We do know that when some young people are under significant stress, then there can be a physiological reaction caused by cortisol, for example, so their behaviour levels wouldn’t be rational in the way we would normally anticipate.

“So when schools understand that better, when teachers understand that better and the needs of these young people then they will respond more positively.

“In addition, the work of our mental health support team working with our schools is designed to help develop and reinforce that understanding.

“Sadly sometimes things happen, there are behaviours that have to be dealt with by exclusions but we do try to minimise that and send out a very clear message as a local authority.”

Councillor Paul Jacques, cabinet member for education, added: “Clearly what we have got in Oldham is a pioneering system in terms of social and emotional mental heath in terms of the response which was launched several months ago.

“What we need to be able to do is change the culture, because schools need to understand that children with adverse childhood experiences will respond in lots of ways, and not possibly the ways you would expect them to.

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“And the work the teams are doing with the designated teachers I think will bring a far better understanding of what is acceptable and what you can do to minimise any impact on schools and support these youngsters.

“It’s so important that we recognise the trauma that some young people have been through.”

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