As human beings, we are primed to relate and connect. Scientific evidence from fields such as infant mental health and neuroscience illustrate that ‘we are wired for connection’, and it is in relationships that we grow and develop.
Positive relationships can help us to feel safe, seen, soothed and understood.
Imagine how important this is in a learning environment where evidence shows that supportive relationships are central to the learning process. A child who feels safe and supported by caring adults at school is better able to learn.
Relationships are part of what keeps us healthy. Evidence shows that the quality of our couple, family and social relationships are a key social determinant of our health and well-being, acting as both a risk and a buffer/protective factor in our lives.
Positive relationships at school not only create the right environment for a child to learn; they foster wellbeing too throughout a school community.
If empathy, listening and understanding are placed at the heart of every conversation or intervention with a colleague or parent/carer at school, this leads to relationships built on trust – and the impact of this can be empowering for all.
We know that taking a relationship-centred approach in schools makes a difference. We have clear evidence of how our training is being applied in practice – and the impact this has, particularly when more than one person from the same school attends. This embeds the approach further and creates a shared language and common approach across school networks, leading to positive change.
- Evidence shows that supportive relationships in schools have a direct impact on outcomes, including health & wellbeing, development and on a child’s capacity to learn.
- Trusting relationships are one of the factors that contribute to the creation of a safe and secure school environment where the concerns and contributions of parents, children and teachers are acknowledged.
- Giving colleagues and parents/carers time, attention and respect is the foundation of a relationship-centred approach in a school.
- Studies show that when empathy, listening and understanding are placed at the heart of every conversation or intervention, this leads to improved outcomes.
- Brain science shows that supportive relationships help us to feel safe and secure by being seen, heard and understood, which is so important in a learning environment.
- Fostering a whole school, relationship-centred approach creates a shared language and common approach in a school and leads to positive change.
- Giving all school staff the time and space to reflect on the role quality relationships play – and their impact on health, wellbeing and learning outcomes – is essential.
- By modelling a relationship-centred approach with colleagues, parents/carers and children, school staff lead by example, encouraging empathy and kindness.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are associated with poorer outcomes, but studies show that supportive relationships can buffer the impact of childhood adversity.
- More recent studies look at Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs). The BCEs scale is “a promising, brief and culturally sensitive index of childhood experiences linked to long term resilience.” * It lists 10 favourable childhood experiences, such as ‘enjoyment of school, having at least one caregiver with whom you felt safe or at least one teacher who cared, can make a difference to someone’s life.
Relationships in schools matter. By adopting a relationship-centred approach, we can all build healthier homes, schools, workplaces and communities.