School of Education

The case for trauma-informed behaviour policies

A new article from Dr Anne Emerson has been published in Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development. Dr Emerson is an Associate Professor who researches within the field of special educational needs and disabilities. She is a member of the Centre for Research in Human Flourishing.


Current behaviour policies, which focus around reward and deterrent, have only limited long-term effectiveness. They assume that students can exercise self-control and follow rules, when motivated to do so. Students with special educational needs and disabilities typically have many intrinsic challenges to self-regulation, due to executive function difficulties, leading to them having frequent negative experiences of behaviour management practices which compound the challenges they face in schools. When children struggle to follow the rules, their anxiety tends to rise and they may experience many situations during the school day as threatening, leading to the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. This escalates behaviour that schools view as challenging. An alternative approach to management of behaviour comes from ‘trauma-informed’ education where all behaviour is seen as a form of communication and an opportunity to develop self-regulation. Pastoral care staff can lead the way to a view of students as on a journey of increased self-insight and self-management that will stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

Visit the publisher's website to read the article.

Posted on Wednesday 27th July 2022

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