Introducing School Services Program Part 1

This article was authored by Deborah McKenzie, Program Manager, School Services
Program, at the Australian Childhood Foundation.

In late 2016, The Australian Childhood Foundation introduced a new program to its organisational structure – the Schools Services Program. The SSP was established as a result of the growing demand within the Education sector:  individual schools, regional areas and at a departmental level to become Trauma Sensitive environments. The School Services program has a team of dedicated professionals from Education, Psychology and Child Protection backgrounds who are very well skilled in the delivery of the various workshops we have on our scope; namely our Making SPACE for Learning program as well as SMART; the latter being exclusively delivered into SA. 

The aim is for Educators and the support staff in schools to be very well informed about the neurobiology and neurophysiology of complex and developmental trauma and to have a clear understanding of the impacts of this on children and young people’s ability to form relationships, on their learning and cognitive capacities, their emotions, body and brain system as well as their ability to regulate themselves. The team consults to and supports schools in the many and varied Action Research projects that pertain to Trauma Sensitive Schools Practice. Strategies, sector and application days also take place to further enhance school support personnel and educator’s knowledge as well as to ‘capacity build’ over time. The outcomes are mapped to both the Principal and Teacher National Standards. 

We have begun the year with gusto and have secured a few more partnerships which we are thrilled about as we know that the more educators who learn our content and put trauma sensitive practices into place in their classrooms and embed them into the culture of the school, the more children, young people and their families for that matter, will benefit and be supported on the pathway to healing.

Departments ACF works with:
  • Our longest and most enduring partnership is with the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) in SA. We have been working together for twelve years now and have seen many positive outcomes over this time. 
  • Catholic Education SA has been in relationship with us for over three years and this year sees us supporting some fourteen schools through their action research projects post their initial training in Making SPACE for Learning. The results of research for eight of the schools will soon be published on the ACF and CESA websites. However, you can find the published ‘Showcase’ booklet from 2015 here. The findings from the various schools are most fascinating. 
  • Catholic Education WA has been working with us since 2015. In this time we have provided various workshop opportunities and this year sees some thirteen schools; seven in the metro region of Perth and six across the Kimberley come on board with us to complete their Action research projects which are exciting.
  • Department of Education and Training NSW are new to the work we do and their ‘patches’ for delivery of MSFL will take place over some 85% of the land mass of that state. Some regional areas have also decided, off the back of training last year, to partake in the Action research project which is wonderful. 
  • Department of Education Tasmania returns to the ACF fold following the success of the three year project – Transforming Adolescent Trauma- which was completed in 2013. This year will see us focus on a couple of school partnership groups as well as supporting the Safe Homes Safe Families and Wellbeing teams who have recently been appointed by the department to support schools in the Family Violence arena. 
  • School Focused Youth Services in Melbourne have partnered with us also and the first round of training and Action Research projects will take place in the Cardinia area with other municipalities working with us as the course of the year progresses.   
  • Individual schools also secure our services when the Principals and leadership groups see the benefits and bonuses of being trauma sensitive school environments 

The staff at ACF applauds the various departments and individual schools for taking on board such critical work and for wanting to positive change the lives and the life trajectory of many of the children and young people in their daily care.