Two schools in Wolverhampton have been nominated for a prestigious national award.

Highfields School and Switch Midlands Alternative Education are in the running to receive the 2023 Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award at the Attachment Research Community’s annual conference in Birmingham next month.

The award celebrates best practice in attachment and trauma aware schools and settings and recognises those that have made a profound and lasting contribution to attachment and trauma aware practices.

Attachment issues are sometimes experienced by children who have had difficulties early in life, and can make it hard for them to form healthy relationships and cope with the demands of school. Attachment aware schools are sensitive to these difficulties and very skilled in helping vulnerable children to thrive.

Highfields and Switch Midlands were nominated for the Secondary and Alternative Provision categories respectively by the Wolverhampton Virtual School, which monitors the educational progress and achievement of children in care in the city.

Darren Martindale, Virtual School head, said: "We have a longstanding relationship with Highfields which has a significant proportion of looked after children among its 1,700 students. 

"The school believes that the secret to success when working with vulnerable children is not 'rocket science' but 'neuroscience' and as such, places a huge value on all staff being trained to look beyond presenting behaviours to the possible causes. The school is holistic in its approach and goes above and beyond for its looked after children.

"Switch Midlands supports children and young people in crisis who are between mainstream schools, and works hard to help students overcome social and emotional barriers to learning from their exceptionally calm and nurturing base in Ryefield. 

"Staff are skilled in working with children who have experienced trauma, helping young people understand their own behaviours and to see the long term impact of not changing these behaviours, and actively apply their 3 value standards – positivity, consistency and understanding – to everything they do with young people.

"We are delighted that both schools have been shortlisted for this prestigious award."

Councillor Jacqui Coogan, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Work, said: “Every year, our Virtual School has the pleasure of shortlisting a number of educational settings it works with for the Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award.

"Attachment and trauma awareness within schools is incredibly important; it makes them better schools and it benefits all their children, not just those who have attachment issues. 

“I would like to congratulate Highfields School and Switch Midlands for leading the way in embedding these key areas in their schools, and for receiving this national recognition from ARC.”

Last year, Low Hill Nursery was named winner of the 2022 Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award in the Early Years’ category, and St Michael’s CE Primary School in Tettenhall was a finalist in the Primary category. Meanwhile Loxdale Primary School was nominated for this year's award and, while not shortlisted, was still recognised as a primary school that prides itself on taking responsibility for the whole child and not just for their academic outcomes.

Next month's ARC conference will bring together professionals from across the country to discuss attachment and trauma awareness and celebrate best practice recently.