BY James Farrell | November 29 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Catholic schools at forefront of supporting troubled pupils

Three Catholic primary schools have been recognised with awards for fostering a positive environment for children who have experienced adversity.

St Ignatius’ Primary School, Wishaw, Our Lady of Lourdes, Blackburn and St John the Baptist, Fauldhouse, both in West Lothian, are three of only four schools in Scotland who have been given the Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Award (ATSSA).

The award recognises schools which provide a framework of support and understanding so that children can heal, thrive, play, and learn.

The children focused on include those adopted from care, children in the care of the local authority and those who live with parents who cannot meet their needs.


St Ignatius’ Primary, the first Scottish school to receive the bronze award in 2018, was awarded the silver this year and is now working towards the gold award.

Headteacher Anne Marie Pearson said: “We initially came into contact with Dr Jenny Nock [of ATSSA] through a range of training sessions she provides focused on areas such as autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), attachment and trauma theory and best practice to support children whose lives have been affected by such issues.”

The school built a working relationship with Dr Nock, which allowed Dr Nock to recognise ‘the commitment within the school community to support children with adverse childhood experiences (ACES).’

“Dr Nock suggested we work towards gaining the ATTS Award as, within the school vision ethos and Catholic mission, there is much evidence of a commitment to providing the best support to our children and families,” Mrs Pearson said.

Mission statement

“Underpinning everything we do in St Ignatius’ Primary School is our Catholic mission statement, our vision and our school motto.

“In the words of St Ignatius, we challenge our pupils to ‘Go forth and set the world on fire for the greater glory of God’—Ad Majorum Dei Gloriam!

“This ethos runs at the very core of our school and can be witnessed at all levels of our school community. The ATTS Award and our work to achieve the gold award builds upon this foundation and has been recognised by Dr Nock as being key to the many success stories over the past few years.

“The whole community is delighted to have our work recognised in this way and feel this is a reflection of the hard work put in by all our staff, families and pupils to learn more about attachment theory and new research around ASD, FASD and ADHD, to name but a few neurological developmental issues facing many of our pupils today.”

Compassion and nurture

Our Lady Of Lourdes’ headteacher Eileen Brennan said: “We want our school to be a place where our children are in a state of learning readiness because they feel happy, loved, heard and understood.

“This award recognises the commitment from our staff to develop a culture of compassion and nurture, giving our pupils the very best opportunities to learn and succeed.”

St John the Baptist headteacher Angela Gardner said: “The Catholic ethos of our school very much contributed to achieving this award and we are pleased of what the school is achieving.

“Our main aim as a school is to allow each pupil to achieve their full potential. Part of this is making sure that every child feels nurtured and that their voice is heard in our school community. This training allows us to reinforce our approach and we can take what we’ve learned moving forward.”


The award aims for everyone within schools to have a good knowledge of the needs of children and young people who have experienced adversity and the strategies and resources available.

ATSSA launched in 2017 and there are currently 40 schools throughout the UK registered on the award.

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