Belvedere Academy‘s Principal Mrs J. Taylor shares her experience being involved with the HEARTS project – which aims to support local schools in Liverpool to become more attachment and trauma informed.
Liverpool HEARTS project
In December 2021, our academy applied to be part of the Liverpool HEARTS project. This would mean that two members of staff would be able to access a postgraduate certificate qualification – with Chester University – in Attachment and Trauma, and the impact on Behaviour. Being part of the project would enable us to work in a network of ten schools (primary and secondary) along with the project team auditing our approach to creating a positive and calm learning culture in school.
A postgraduate certificate qualification for educators
In January 2022, Senior Assistant Vice Principal, Emma Speed, and I started the PG Cert and worked alongside the network group as we tackled the challenges of reading research, understanding the science and psychology around attachment and trauma and writing essays. During this time, the project team also visited us at Belvedere and worked with our senior team to audit pupil behaviours as we worked hard to maintain our outstanding environment whilst managing the challenges we were finding following the pandemic and as we became a larger and more diverse school.
In September 2022, all staff – teaching and support – from the ten schools in the network group attended a conference at Anfield, Liverpool. It was an inspirational day listening to a range of speakers including a psychologist; Sir John Timpson talking about his own experience as a foster carer and how that impacted on his Leadership of Timpsons; parents of pupils at Hope School and Kriss Akabusi who spoke about his own experience growing up.
Working together to improve outcomes
Since then, at Belvedere we have worked together to improve outcomes for all our pupils. At the centre of this is our constant drive to enable all members of the Belvedere community to feel like they belong to the academy. Through this, we have engaged with how we can become more psychologically responsive with our young people, we have set up our systems of Key Workers who now work with a number of pupils across the school and grown our Student Support base and staffing and reviewed our Behaviour and Culture policy. Day to day, we have ensured meet and greet opportunities across the day, broadened our pupil voice exercises and developed robust relationships with families.
This year’s RISE programme has also been developed in response to this work. We have shared some of this learning with our pupils and with families during our Curriculum Information Evenings. Classcharts allows us to track and respond to behaviours – both positive and not so positive and ensure pupils are supported to reflect and improve. Our focus on Attitude to Learning (is your fridge magnet still on the fridge?) and the new Attitude to Learning assessment grid currently in action in Years 7, 8 and 12 also enables us to promote really positive learning behaviours.
Recognised in The Pearson National Teaching Awards
Last summer, the project won silver at the Pearson Education Awards, and this November we won gold! We were delighted. The project continues to be rolled out across Liverpool with the hope that it enables the city to tackle attendance at school and reduce the number of suspensions and permanent exclusions.
Partnerships at GDST
Belvedere Academy is part of The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) – a family of 25 girls schools across England and Wales. The GDST understands the power of partnership and the benefits it can bring, not just to our girls but to our staff, parents, alumnae and the wider community. At the GDST, we highly value collaborative work with schools across our network and we are involved in a range of formal and informal partnerships with all types of schools and charities.