The use of key adults

We are nearly at the end of the half term, I am supposed to have done lots of action research for my SENCO course. I’ve sort of started, I know what I’m doing, I’ve got some data, I’ve written a questionnaire and given it out, I’ve even got a few back.

I’m looking at whether the use of key adults helps children get from our turnaround class, it is designed as a short term intervention where children who are exhibiting challenging behaviour can be taught with a high ratio of very experienced staff to children. The idea of this class is that the children are given structure, routines and strategies to get back into their normal classrooms where they will then remain. Some children do this very successfully. Some struggle.

Many of the children who attend this class show behaviours which are typical of, amongst other things, an Attachment Disorder. We know these children and their backgrounds, an attachment disorder would not seem unreasonable in many cases. We have had the Educational Psychologist come and look at some of these children (with necessary parental permissions) and they have said the children need to learn to make attachments and become dependent so that they can then become independent, it sounds so easy on paper!

I am looking at whether having a key adult who keeps touching base with them both in the turnaround class and in their normal classroom will help keep them in class and able to learn. I am not naïve enough to think that having these adults around everyday, talking to them, being available, helping with transitions etc. is going to solve everyone’s problems. It would be nice if it helped a bit. Perhaps I need to introduce key adults to children who are approaching “tricky” in class and try to avoid them needing to go to the turnaround class to start with.

Some of these children are very resistant to making an attachment and no one likes being rejected. Is it fair to ask staff to be a key adult? How much time will it take each day? Who will choose the best person to be the key adult? I have lots more reading to do about the subject and at present I think I’m producing more questions than answers. I think it is worth investigating and the EP approves so I’ll keep trying.

It’s nearly half term so I should have time to read and start the writing – I’ll do it as a break from SATs marking!

The use of key adults

6 thoughts on “The use of key adults

  1. A conversation I’ve recently had with My SEN TA who is interested in setting up a nurture system similar to tackling these issues. Would you mind sharing your ideas on your turnaround class and any other ideas/answers you’ve come up with to your questions? Good luck with your SENCO training!


  2. Have any of these children actually been diagnosed with Attachment Disorder? If not, amateur diagnosis and treatment are likely to do more harm than good. If children are unruly, a lack of discipline, rather than a lack of attachment, is more likely to be the cause. Let’s not medicalise everything using amateur diagnoses.


  3. Yes, we have quite a few children with an attachment diagnosis from CAMHS. we have a few others who the EPs and community paediatrician have said are likely to have attachment problems from their background and that treating them as if they have an attachment disorder is the way to treat them.
    We do try not to medicalise everything and appreciate that we are not in a position to make diagnoses. In the absence of a formal diagnosis we have to try what we can.


  4. I have now had my marked assignment back – my sample size was very small but key adults seemed to work best when they were actually in the classroom with the child. When it was dependent on child and adult having to find each other at set times the link was not as strong and contact could not be as immediate. If anyone wants to read 5000 words on the subject let me know!!



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