Evidence-based resources to help schools and colleges prepare for and recover from traumatic events

2nd February 2023  |  By: Dominic Smith

New resources will help schools and other education settings to provide a comprehensive and compassionate response to traumatic events that affect children and young people in their care.

The free ‘Critical Incidents for Educational Communities’ resources are launched today by the UK Trauma Council (UKTC), a group of childhood trauma experts, which is a project of the Anna Freud Centre. The resources have been developed in collaboration with staff in education settings and young people themselves.

The set of easy-to-use policy templates, staff training and lesson plans are guided by five evidence-based principles – to ensure young people feel safe, calm, connected, in control and hopeful – and are designed to help prepare for and manage the response to critical incidents. These are events that affect a large part or the whole of a school, college, alternative provision or early years community.

While major large scale critical incidents are thankfully rare, many institutions will experience the serious injury or death of a child, young person or staff member. These events affect children and young people, as well as the staff team and wider community. Everyone affected can benefit from a well-planned and evidence-based response to help promote recovery.

Informed by research and best practice, the resources help education settings with what to do, why and how they should do it.

David Trickey, Co-Director of the UK Trauma Council, said: “Our new resources have been created with the recognition that preparations to manage the impact of critical incidents is key, so that even when emotions may be running high, leaders and managers can feel confident to support their students and staff.

“All of the activities and plans are guided by five simple, evidence-based principles - that those affected are supported to feel safe, calm, connected, in control and hopeful.

“While specialist support can be really helpful, it is not always necessary. Children and young people are usually best supported by adults they know well. They spend a lot of time in early years settings, schools and colleges, which become an important part of a young person’s life. These settings can help provide an environment that supports the recovery of those who have experienced trauma.

“In the event that education settings are affected by a critical incident, we hope that by using these resources it will help children and young people to feel more in control about future decisions that affect them and, while acknowledging the distress of the present, enable them to build hope for a more positive future.”


'The Critical Incidents in Educational Communities' resources includes a comprehensive 50-page guidance document for leadership teams and other staff who might lead or support in the event of a critical incident. The guidance includes how the principles might be used in planning and training staff, as well as responding immediately to an event and supporting everyone affected in the medium-term and longer term.

Alongside this are a policy framework, editable policy templates for education settings to adapt to their own needs with separate versions for early years, schools and colleges, an INSET training session, lesson plans for different age groups detailing emotional regulation activities, and guidance for leaders to hold meetings with parents and carers to embed these principles at home.

UK Trauma Council

The UK Trauma Council is the first UK-wide group bringing together expertise in research, practice, policy and lived experience in childhood trauma.

All the resources are free to access from the UK Trauma Council website, where you can also find out more about the work and evidence-based resources to improve professionals and carers’ understanding of the nature and impact of trauma.

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