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Trauma in relation to Covid-19

We are all living through a collective trauma right now and one thing we do know is that current trauma can reactivate previous trauma.

Children and young people (CYP) will have likely experienced a whole host of emotions, thoughts and change during this time such as loss of control, threat to life and potentially witnessing people close to them extremely unwell or, very sadly, dying as a result of Coronavirus. (i)

Concerns and considerations

There are concerns that some CYP will have had increased exposure to ongoing domestic abuse, child abuse or neglect and online bullying during the time education settings were forced to close and also subsequently during other lockdowns /where individuals and groups of CYP have been asked to stay at home and isolate.

There’s also the economic impact on families where parents/carers may have lost jobs and things such as free school meals haven’t necessarily been available for lower income households.  Considerations for those CYP who are young carers and may be supporting a parent who is shielding are also things to think about as we explore the impact of trauma on CYP. (i)

How this may play out in the classroom

CYP who have experienced trauma prior to and/or during the Covid-19 outbreak are likely to have issues around their attendance, focus, ability to learn and behaviour.  This can be a direct result of constantly being in ‘threat detect’ mode, experiencing trauma memory triggers, flashbacks and nightmares which are classic PTSD symptoms.  (i)

How you can offer support and promote recovery as part of a whole school approach

We can reassure CYP with a sense of stability and safety by exploring ways of implementing the 5 Key Principles of Recovery (ii):

  1. Put emotional wellbeing first – for everyone
  2. Re-affirm school’s strengths and core values
  3. Place relationships front and centre
  4. Re-affirm safety and routines
  5. Acknowledge loss, change and bereavement

Finding ways to factor in each of the 5 key principles of recovery in a way that meets the more specific needs of your education setting can have a tremendously positive effect on CYP and the wider school setting.

Educators can access an ever increasing number of developments and ideas on how to incorporate play, self-care, mindfulness into learning, and ways to build coping strategies etc. that can be utilised to support your education setting as we all navigate the circumstances  as best we can (see links for further reading and helpful resources below).


  1. Wellbeing for Education Return – MindEd and Anna Freud Centre
  2. Whole School SEND 2020

Useful Resources:

Trauma Informed Schools Resources -

Anna Freud Centre Covid-19 Tool Kit -

Emerging Minds Podcasts -

MindEd Educational Hub -

P2B (Place2Be) Resilience and Wellbeing Lesson Plan (Primary Schools) -

Mentally Healthy Schools Resource Library -

NASEN (National Association for Special Education Needs) Whole School SEND Resources -

Further Reading:

NSPCC Resource on Social isolation and the Risk of Child Maltreatment, in Lockdown and Beyond -

AFNCCF (Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) -

Charlie Waller Trust -

Mentally Healthy Schools -

Useful Worksheets:

"I need you to..." Stepping into the shoes of a young person who has experienced trauma, loss & change:

Compensate for my Brain State - Dr Bruce Perry’s Arousal Continuum:

6 Steps of Trauma-Sensitive Connection:

Supporting the Return to School with Hobfoll’s Five Principles of Recovery:

The Learning Triangle: A Model of Attachment & Learning by Heather Geddes:

“What if?” Using a trauma-informed lens to reframe behaviour:

The Trauma-informed Classroom - Providing a Safe Base:

Treating Trauma with Hope and Optimism:

Applying the 4 Rs of Trauma-Informed approaches in the return to school:


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