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Attachment, Adverse Childhood Experiences
and School Punishments
The relationship between attachment, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), school exclusion, and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) is intricate and demonstrates how these factors are interconnected in the lives of many vulnerable students.
Attachment refers to the emotional bond between a child and their primary caregiver. It plays a vital role in shaping a child's emotional and social development. A secure attachment fosters trust, emotional regulation, and resilience, while insecure attachments can lead to emotional and behavioural challenges.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), are traumatic experiences that happen before the age of 18 years. Research suggests that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), for example, child exposure to domestic abuse, violence, and abuse are impacted more in deprived areas. Also, repeated or continuous exposure to adverse experiences has been shown to disrupt children's neurobiological functioning by overstimulating their 'freeze, flight and fight responses. If stressful events are not reduced by the caregiver's affection, this can result in aggression and disruption in school. This is one of the major causes of school exclusions and mental well-being in these children.
School exclusion refers to the practice of temporarily or permanently removing a student from the regular classroom environment due to disciplinary issues or rule violations. Exclusionary measures, such as suspension or expulsion, can have detrimental consequences for students' academic and social development.
Pupil Referral Units
PRU’s, or Alternative Provisions (APs) is a type of school that caters for children who aren't able to attend a mainstream school.
In 2019/20, at a total of 15,400 pupils were registered in Pupil Referral Units in the UK, at a cost of around £270 Million and yet, despite being able to provide such enhanced levels of support, outcomes for pupils in APs are incredibly poor: In 2015-16, only 18% of children who were subjected to multiple fixed term exclusions, and just 7% of children who were permanently excluded, went on to achieve passes in English and Maths GCSEs. Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Justice, 42% had been permanently excluded from school and prisoners with such a past were more likely to re-offend than not; confirming the existence of the 'school-to-prison pipeline' that is a significant risk to vulnerable pupils.
Ubuntu - Building a Community in Education Begins with our Bodies
In the UK, parenting and education strategies are predominantly designed around expanding and enhancing the cognitive process whilst inhibiting and controlling bodily movement and feelings/impulses to move. Whilst the ‘heart-mind’ connection has been a central understanding of what it means to be human in dozens of cultures in the non-western world, it has only been in the past 50 years that psychology slowly began to look at the validity of studying the body in conjunction with the mind.
The Ubuntu philosophy, often expressed as "I am because we are," is a concept rooted in African philosophy, particularly in Southern Africa. It encapsulates a worldview that emphasises the interconnectedness of all individuals and the idea that our individual well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of others and the community as a whole.
Applying the Ubuntu culture, with its core principle of "I am because we are," to reduce challenging behaviour in children involves creating an environment that promotes empathy, understanding, and cooperation.
Awaken Genius believes that nurturing a culture of Ubuntu, promoting co-regulation, and self-care is not just an idea but a way of life. It's about recognising the interconnectedness of all beings and the profound impact it can have on supporting traumatised children with ACEs in feeling calm and safe.
Ubuntu underscores our interconnectedness and community, providing a foundation for healing and resilience. By fostering trust and connection, our facilitators can create a secure environment where children understand they are not alone in their struggles. Co-regulation techniques help children manage emotions, while modelling self-care practices ensures that our facilitators are viscerally attuned and in synch with children. A trauma-informed approach, empowers children to build resilience, set goals, develop academically, spiritually, and celebrate their unique successes.
We partner with primary schools and community spaces in order to deliver an early primary to secondary transitional intervention by implementing an Ubuntu culture in education to foster a sense of belonging and wellbeing. Our Community-Creative Arts Curriculum in Numeracy and Literacy is aligned with the National Curriculum. However, its pedagogy is centred around somatic therapy (mind-body connection), creative arts, movement, collaboration, building strong communities, emotional intelligence, visualisation, and self-regulation, multi-sensory learning, life purpose and the concepts of communal success through personal agency, entrepreneurial thinking, and building social relationships.
In addition, we deliver Parent-Child and Families Attachment Workshops to help parents better-self-regulate themselves and viscerally connect and build bonds with their children and other families.
Awaken Genius acts as an early intervention to reduce behavioural issues, primarily in Black children due to traumatic stress in deprived London boroughs, with the intention of significantly reducing the need for school exclusion and Pupil Referral Units.
The world's most precious natural resource is children. At Awaken Genius the word education will take on it's original meaning (from the Latin educere) to bring out what is already within.
Awaken Genius believes the emerging world must leverage our most vulnerable children’s untapped potential and innate capacities to learn and awaken their unique talents and gifts. Once awakened these children will become agents of change.
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