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Trauma Informed Practice - How nurture and relationships can create an emotionally healthier way to learn



Trauma, attachment & the science of connection

The value of relationships & co-regulation

Relational behaviour management

Embedding this approach into your curriculum

Good practice in the primary & secondary sectors

Creating an emotionally healthier way to learn


Video Discussions & Interviews

9 hrs


With a companion guide, additional links and suggested resources for each class;
the ability to take notes digitally throughout the course & a Certificate of Course Completion.

Course content available to learners for....



There has been an increasing amount of interest in the concept of trauma-informed practice in schools. Much of this has stemmed from a growing awareness of research around adverse childhood experiences and their potential impact.  In turn, this has been intensified by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the associated lockdowns and the related increase in mental health and wellbeing issues among children and young people. Educators desperately want to respond to this, but what should that response look like?

Our course coordinator, David Cameron guides learners through the course engaging in discussions and interviews with leading thinkers and exciting practitioners from across education, exploring…

  • What is trauma informed practice?
  • What impact can this approach have on schools and the children and young people they nurture?
  • What have you heard throughout the course that has reinforced your current practice and what you’re doing? Are you more “trauma-informed” than you first thought?
  • What have you heard that might make you think about questioning your current practice or changing it?
  • Are there any ideas or approaches around Trauma Informed Practice that you could adopt (or already use) in your work with children and young people?
  • And what help or support might you need in order to make that change?

Featuring a mix of video discussions and interactive content (with quizzes and learner polls), the course includes additional links and suggested reading materials providing signposting, advice and support around embedding trauma informed approaches into your practice.

If you work with young people, in addressing their needs – pastoral and academic – and in making sure that they get the most from education, this course is for you.

Key Topics

  • Trauma, attachment & the science of connection
  • The value of relationships & co-regulation
  • Making relational behaviour management work in schools
  • Embedding trauma informed approaches into your curriculum
  • Good practice in the primary & secondary sectors
  • Improved attainment and high attendance – creating an emotionally healthier way to learn


What our Learners say...

This course will be available until at least December 2024, ensuring learners can work through the content anytime, anywhere, at their own pace…

High Quality








Julia Liesse-Fernandes, Curriculum Leader for the Well-Being Hub, Forrester High School
Read More
I found all the classes very insightful. Throughout the course I had so many new ideas. It has reassured me that I am doing the right thing in my job, that through the relationships I build with my students, I can support them by showing them I really care
Megan Priestley, Wellbeing Teacher, Sighthill Primary School
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I thought the course was great and David was very engaging in his interview style. The real life examples from people working with children had the biggest impact on me, very useful!
Kerry Taylor, Anchor Link Worker, Shetland Islands Council
Read More
I enjoyed all aspects of this course and found areas very though provoking, in nurture and in how we – as adults – are with children and how we can influence a positive and safe environment and model how to be kind and compassionate

Course rates for learners

1 Learner


3-5 learners

Small group
£ 80 Per person

6-300+ learners

Large group
£ 75-35 Per person

Detailed course agenda

Our course coordinator, David Cameron, guides learners through the course engaging in discussions and interviews with leading thinkers and exciting practitioners from across education, exploring what is trauma informed practice? And, more importantly, what impact can this approach have on schools and the children and young people they nurture?


We’ve made the first class of the course available for everyone to access…

What do we mean by Trauma Informed Practice? (12:52) – Click to Watch

  • Trauma, attachment and the science of connection
  • The power of curiosity and courage – thinking differently, changing cultures
  • High impact, low cost – no external approval needed!
  • How it works in practice – case studies from primary schools

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Research Scientist and Developmental Psychologist

Child Development, with a new name… (17:11)

  • The importance of “Why” – an obligation to be curious
  • Responding to feelings and needs, not just behaviours and actions
  • The science of connection – understanding and valuing relationships
  • How it works in practice – case studies from secondary schools

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Research Scientist and Developmental Psychologist

Making Relational Behaviour Management Work in Schools (19:24)

  • ‘The Kindness Principle’ – Batter them with kindness
  • Creating a culture of empathy and acceptance
  • Simplicity from complexity – making it work for your practice
  • The value of good relational practice – some examples

Dave Whitaker, Director of Learning, Wellspring Academy Trust & Author of ‘The Kindness Principle’

“We need to invite a child to join us in our calm, rather than us joining them in their chaos” (17:19)

  • From ‘You’ to ‘We’ – Building respect into our relationships
  • Question your behaviour policy – mainstream schools and specialist settings
  • The importance of empathy – looking for resolution rather than restitution
  • The need for co-regulation— stop, reflect and avoid escalation

Dave Whitaker, Director of Learning, Wellspring Academy Trust & Author of ‘The Kindness Principle’

Building trauma informed approaches into your curriculum (22:10)

  • The scope to include trauma informed approaches within the curriculum
  • Being protected into learning – providing a safe, connected space for students to learn
  • Creating curricula that combine compassion and creative thinking
  • Examples of using this approach to teach difficult concepts

Dr Debra Kidd, Teacher, Education Consultant and Author of ‘A Curriculum of Hope’ & Hywel Roberts, Teacher, Education Consultant and Author of ‘Botheredness’

Embedding the nurture principles with primary children (21:45)

  • The importance of connection and belonging
  • What is important in embedding the nurture principles?
  • Key – the two pillars of nurture
  • All behaviour is communication


Catriona Robb, Teaching Fellow at the University of Strathclyde

Big people helping little people – creating a whole-school ethos around empathy and kindness

A cross-section of adults and children from Pitteuchar East Primary School in Glenrothes.

  • Perspective – The Children (11:28)
  • Perspective – The Janitor (06:17)
  • Perspective – The Pupil Support Assistants (15:53)
  • Perspective – The Learning Support Teacher (12:20)
The Approach at Pitteuchar East (14:58)

  • Building trust and providing space – restorative approaches take time and patience
  • “You can’t have any sense of community within a school, if the adults don’t model the school values”
  • “We don’t have to know a child’s background to treat them best”
  • Understanding and recognising distress

Jenn Knussen, Headteacher, Pitteuchar East Primary School

…Does it work? (14:07)

  • Improved attainment and high attendance – creating space for children to learn
  • Getting the balance right – ensuring consequences for actions, but not for relationships
  • Effective modelling – making change through modelling values, behaviours and expectations
  • Changing mindsets from “challenging behaviour” to “distressed behaviour” – “they’re not challenging us, they’re asking for help”

Jenn Knussen, Headteacher, Pitteuchar East Primary School

Values are everyone’s responsibility (11:58)

  • Modelling values – ‘less talking, more listening’
  • Building a values ‘muscle’ for children & young people
  • Creating the optimum learning environment – calmness, responsiveness, nurturing
  • Making children feel welcome and valued at school


Julie Rees, Headteacher, Ledbury Primary School

Implementing values-based education (13:49)

  • The importance of strong relationships between staff and children
  • Reading the room – being emotionally aware, adapting to the needs of the children
  • Blending care and ambition – you cannot have one without the other
  • Developing the school workforce – leadership without title


Julie Rees, Headteacher, Ledbury Primary School

Creating a values-based culture (17:48)

  • Put relationships at the heart of everything
  • Key values – Consistency, kindness, high aspirations, passion and trust
  • Shared leadership is key – enable and empower others
  • Outcomes will follow, if the culture is right


Julie Rees, Headteacher, Ledbury Primary School

A values-based education – Perspectives from across the School

A cross-section of adults and children from Ledbury Primary School in Herefordshire.

  • Perspective – Class Teacher (14:51)
  • Perspective – Phase 1 Co-Ordinator (18:30)
  • Perspective – SENCo & DSL (25:19)
  • Perspective – The Children (12:23)
  • Perspective – Chair of Governors (13:01)
“Just the way we do things” (20:25)

  • “Always be calm, consistent and kind” – the need for clarity on a school’s core principles and values
  • “When the adults change, everything changes” – professional learning to better meet the needs of our young people
  • “The dignity of young people must be front and centre” – providing empowerment, support and accessible opportunities
  • Being brave – adopting bespoke approaches, engaging with partners and not being afraid to try things

Ruth McKay, Headteacher, Portobello High School

Creating an emotionally healthier way to learn (22:29)

  • Trauma informed approaches and relational practice are fundamental to raising attainment
  • Creating an open and relaxed atmosphere across the school
  • Building quality relationships with students and families
  • The role of boundaries and expectations in providing structure for our young people
  • Just try things and see what happens – sometimes the things you think are going to be impossible to achieve, are the real game changers in behaviours

Ruth McKay, Headteacher, Portobello High School

Adopting a Nurturing Approach in the Secondary Sector (13:38)

  • The transformation – from a punitive school to a nurturing one
  • The partnership with Educational Psychology – training staff in ‘The Principles of Nurture’
  • Starting with the willing – modelling the value of caring and compassionate relationships before rolling the approach out to the full school staff
  • The outcomes – raised pupil attendance, increased pupil engagement and stronger co-regulation

Wendy McInally, Depute Head Teacher, Clydebank High School

Bringing it all together (04:35)

  • The case for trauma informed approaches
  • Showing that it’s possible – real people, engaged in real practice
  • Going beyond the science…let’s make it happen!
  • Be curious…

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Research Scientist and Developmental Psychologist

Learner Feedback

Your Feedback and Your Thoughts

Introducing Our Trainers

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk

Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk is a research scientist fascinated by babies’ inborn capacity to communicate. Since 1993, she has been based at the University of Dundee, within the School of Psychology, where she now holds an Honorary post. In 2011, she set up her own independent training enterprise to disseminate more widely what she calls the Science of Connection.

Suzanne now spends all of her time speaking to the public about our emotional and biological need for connection. Human beings cannot thrive without that sense of belonging. She brings to this goal her research expertise on topics including parent-infant relationships, family support, communicative disorders, and the socio-political contexts that frame our responses to scientific information. 

Suzanne works closely with organisations throughout the UK and beyond to increase awareness of the decisions we take about caring for children, illuminating the way in which those decisions are integrally connected to our vision for the kind of society we wish to build.

Dave Whitaker

Dave Whitaker is Director of Learning for the Wellspring Academy Trust. As a former Executive Principal of SEMH Special and Alternative Provision academies, he now works regionally supporting 28 schools in the trust

Dave spent 10 years as a National Leader of Education and teaching school head. He now leads Positive Regard – the trust’s behaviour training and outreach team. Positive Regard work nationally supporting schools with behaviour training drawing on years of experience working with the most complex and vulnerable of children. Based on an ethos of ‘unconditional positive regard’ Dave believes schools should use relational practice to make them safe and caring places to learn.

Dave has recently been a member of the DFE’s Timpson Exclusions Review expert reference group, he is a founder member of the HeadTeachers’ Roundtable think tank and is a trustee of The Difference. He has also given evidence on alternative provision to the government’s Education Select Committee. He is a regular speaker at conferences and an active campaigner for educational change. His book, The Kindness Principle, offers advice, guidance and expertise on making relational practice work in schools. He is an associate of Independent Thinking Ltd.

Ruth McKay

Ruth McKay is Headteacher at Portobello High School, a large comprehensive in the east of Edinburgh.

Ruth began her career as an English teacher and quickly moved into Guidance and Pastoral Care. Following a national secondment looking at new ways to measure progress and improvement in education, she spent time working in a local authority as a Quality Improvement Officer before returning to school as a Depute Head Teacher. This is her second headship.

With a particular interest in responses to Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs), Ruth co-organised the highly successful Portobello Learning Festivals in June 2018 and 2019 on the theme of ACEs and ‘Changing Relationships, Changing Lives’. Under Ruth’s leadership, Portobello has developed a reputation for creative practice and innovation in the field of relationships for learning.

Jenn Knussen

Jenn Knussen has worked in Primary Education for over 30 years, most latterly as Head Teacher at Pitteuchar East Primary School.

Jenn’s initial B.Ed and subsequent Masters Degree both focussed on interpersonal relationships, and how these impact on how a group can fail or function. Her research in this area continues.

A significant amount of Jenn’s work has focussed on supporting children who may be experiencing Adverse Childhood Experiences, or who may have experienced these in the past, whilst also supporting families. The value of building strong relationships with colleagues in other sectors cannot be underestimated in the success of such support.

The strong sense of “institutional trust” Jenn’s team build with all adults, around a child, has also had a profound impact on her ‘bairns’ and their families. Jenn is a founding member of the Fife ACEs Hub.

Over many years, Jenn has explored the importance of how language can affect change. She is credited as being the person who first described “challenging behaviour” as “distressed behaviour”. This has had a profound impact on many people, particularly as more people became aware of the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Jenn is currently on a crusade to change the term “vulnerable people” to “valuable people” as only then, she believes, will their true worth be described.

Jenn is a Young Carers Champion for her local area, and has worked with the Scottish Government on aspects of Behaviour in Schools.

When exploring the school culture and ethos at Pitteuchar East Primary, we also hear from a cross-section of adults and children, including – 

  • Jilly Martin, Learning Support Teacher
  • Debbie King & Mandy Hall, Pupil Support Assistants
  • Brian Kenny, Janitor
  • And four wonderful pupils

Dr Debra Kidd

Dr Debra Kidd has taught children from the age of 4 right through to post-graduate Masters students in both mainstream and special settings. She is the author of four books, the latest of which is Curriculum of Hope.

Debra is the co-founder and organiser of Northern Rocks – one of the largest teaching and learning conferences in the UK. Her teacher training on developing exciting learning contexts for children has taken her all over the world. She has a doctorate in Education and believes more than anything else that the secret to great teaching is “Make it Matter”.


  • A Curriculum of Hope: As rich in Humanity as in Knowledge (2020)
  • Uncharted Territories: Adventures in Learning (co-authored with Hywel Roberts, 2018)
  • Becoming Mobius: The Complex Matter of Education (2015)
  • Teaching: Notes from the Frontline (2014)

Hywel Roberts

Hywel has been a teacher for over twenty-five years. His reputation has grown hugely since he stepped out of the full-time classroom. He has found an incredible and innovative niche in the world of model teaching contributing to and advising curriculum designers and innovators from Barnsley to Brussels, from Cairo to Cleethorpes. Hywel is as at home in front of hundreds of Headteachers on the conference circuit as he is when working with EAL children on the carpets of their classrooms.

Hywel contributes to the national conversation around education at school and university level. He is an experienced teacher in Special, Primary and Secondary settings, nationally and internationally. He is also a well-respected author and contributes regularly to a variety of publications.

His award-winning book ‘Oops! Getting Children to Learn Accidentally’ is published by Crown House Publishing and has proved very popular with educators around the world and now is a feature on the reading list of many university teacher training courses. His book ‘Uncharted Territories’ is written with Dr Debra Kidd and was published in 2018. He writes a regular column for the Times Educational Supplement about his encounters as a ‘travelling teacher’ and a weekly show ‘Hywel’s Teacher Stories’ on Teacher Hug Radio. Hywel’s next book ‘Botheredness’ will be published in 2022. He has also contributed fiction to a prison-based literacy reading programme developed by The Shannon Trust. Hywel is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

He was recently described as ‘..a world leader in enthusiasm’.

You can find out more about Hywel on his website…

Wendy McInally

Wendy McInally is the Depute Head Teacher at Clydebank High School. She has been at the school for 16 years, initially as a Principal Teacher of Pastoral Care, then as Depute Head Teacher for the last 7 years.

Wendy’s remit focuses on Pupil Equity Funding, Health and Wellbeing, Multi Agency Hub Management and all Scottish Attainment Challenge projects. She works very closely with the most vulnerable young people at the school and families who may be at risk.

Catriona Robb

Catriona is a Teaching Fellow in Children’s Mental Health in the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde. She has taught in mainstream and ASN schools, most recently in a local authority enhanced nurture base supporting children who displayed distressed behaviour in school.

Prior to working at the university, Catriona was a Mental Health Development Officer in a local authority. Her MEd dissertation explored nurture as a protective factor in promoting resilience in primary-aged children.

David Cameron

David Cameron is a leading voice in education and training, building on his extensive experience as a teacher, a senior manager in schools and in local authorities.

Formerly Head of Education in East Lothian, Director of Children’s Services for Stirling Council and President of the Association of Directors of Education Scotland, David has been involved with a range of national groups, notably on Curriculum for Excellence, Outdoor Education and Looked After Children.

David has worked with Skills Development Scotland as Head of Career Management Skills, was closely involved in developing Scotland’s Creative Learning Plan, was a driving force in the Emporium for Dangerous Ideas, and is currently involved in a wide range of projects.

You can find out more about David on his website…

He can be contacted at