The Learning Together About Making Choices (LTaMC) project was undertaken in 2011-2014. It aimed to develop and sustain a secure base for learning for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children as they moved through mainstream education.
The children at the centre of this project have experienced adverse socio-economic circumstances or unmet attachment needs in their early lives. These children are most likely to have been denied the experience of learning how to build a warm, trusting, and reliable relationship with anyone, including their parents. They have rarely if ever had the security of knowing what it is to come first in any adult’s life and they have depended on instinctive survivalist behaviours to keep themselves in perceived safety. The resulting unacceptable and/or inappropriate behaviours lock them out of the benefits of their years in primary school and ‘hide in plain sight’ their chronic distress and need for help. Regular or typical responses from teachers often exacerbate their distrust of adults and ensure their likely continued exclusion.
Where children are unable to understand or keep pace with the demands on their cognitive, physical or emotional abilities, the results are clear. School failure, usual for children with negative attachment issues, exacerbates the disadvantage they already endure. With knowledge and understanding however, school can be a place of stability if not a refuge for the child.
In spite of the underlying complexity, with the advice and support of the research team and an experienced practitioner, the LTaMC project successfully showed that sound foundations can be laid on which to build positive changes for some of the most vulnerable children in our schools.