Why we should train teachers on the impact of childhood trauma on classroom behaviour

Stephanie Little*, Rachel Maunder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview Articlepeer-review


Aim: This paper aims to discuss the link between childhood trauma and young people’s disruptive behaviour in the classroom, and argues that teachers should receive training on ‘attachment aware’ approaches to help them respond effectively.
Rationale: Two inter-connected problems affecting the UK education system are the number of young people who have experienced early trauma which impacts on their wellbeing and classroom behaviour, and the number of teachers who leave the profession. We propose that schools becoming more attachment-aware could help to address these issues.
Findings: Through considering the evidence for what therapeutically supports young people to move out of a pattern of trauma-influenced coping, we show there is scope for schools to play a systemic part in building positive interpersonal relationships. We suggest that a fortuitous side effect of this is the evidence that it could be beneficial for adults in the education system to take an alternative approach, potentially acting as a buffer for professional burnout and aiding teacher retention.
Limitations: The evidence base supporting attachment-aware approaches in schools is in its early stages, and there may be challenges aligning such relationally-orientated practices within a performative educational culture.
Conclusions: Based on the material presented in the paper, we conclude that now is the time to prioritise relationships for education. Attachment-aware approaches can provide a valuable starting point for schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date1 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Childhood trama
  • Childhood abuse
  • Classroom behaviour
  • Teachers
  • Teacher training


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