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Geography - In the spotlight

Tackling trauma in the classroom

With the demands of lesson planning, report writing and behavioural control, it is sometimes easy to overlook the external roots of a pupil's disaffection, bad behaviour or poor performance. But adoptive mother, radio presenter and producer Gudrun Dalibor has worked hard to provide some answers.

Encouraged by her own experiences - and on the back of the Department for Education's announcement in November 2011 that adopted children will have the same priorities as looked-after children in schools admissions from this year - she has produced a series of three CDs entitled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Adoption But Were Afraid to Ask for the charity Adoption UK.

"Adopted children often underachieve compared with peers who have not experienced abuse and neglect early in their lives, and schools are often undertrained in how to deal with this," Dalibor says. "My CDs aim to help teachers understand how the brain works, how trauma impacts on learning and behaviour, and to help them respond appropriately, improving the children's chances of success both in education and beyond."

The content of the CDs is based on neuroscience research and is delivered through interviews with trauma and attachment experts, psychologists, parents, teachers, educational psychologists and children themselves. These interviews include practical steps that the teacher can implement to support adoptive children under their care.

What do teachers say?

"The series made me aware of why some behavioural approaches do not work in class. It outlines the ways we can devise and implement strategies to best support each individual child's learning," says Anna Jelec, a special educational needs teacher from Leamington Spa.

"I found the audio series a real eye opener to children suffering from trauma in their life," says John Allin, a headteacher from the West Midlands.

The CDs are available to order as a series or individually from

What else?

Teach pupils about adoption and child abuse with a range of resources on the TES website. Introduce fostering and adoption with a PowerPoint from Olivia Rowling. Or watch two videos from Teachers TV to see first-hand accounts from children who have been abused.

For all links and resources visit

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