The Anchor Project - Haringey Council

Haringey’s Anchor Project is an early intervention that uses attachment and trauma theory to inform practice and support the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

This innovative programme supports front line staff working with children to use straightforward research-based strategies every day. These help children displaying challenging behaviour to remain in mainstream education and community groups at relatively low cost.

The project supports both universal service delivery and targeted work with children causing concern. Aims include mitigating against difficult childhood experiences, increased attainment, reduced exclusion and higher levels of emotional wellbeing and mental health amongst young people.

The challenge
The project stemmed from a recognition of the need to:

  • Reduce exclusion rates in primary, and especially secondary, schools
  • Increase the ability of primary school staff to recover from the impact of early experiences so that behaviour improves over time, rather than staff continually working around challenging behaviour that does not improve. This will raise attainment at the end of key stage 2 and reduce the exclusion spike in the secondary phase
  • Strengthen foster carer and looked after children (LAC) relationships to increase care placement stability
  • Build the ability of foster carers to help LAC recover from trauma
  • Increase numbers of children meeting developmental norms in the early years and on entry to school

The solution
The Anchor Project has offered participants a range of tools and training to:  

  • increase awareness in adults and children of the significance of healthy relationships for increased levels of wellbeing and mental health
  • support adults and children to understand how to increase wellbeing and resilience for themselves and others in the community
  • build day to day skills and confidence of adults across policy, systems and practice.

It seeks to apply robust research around attachment and trauma to practice.

The Haringey Resilience Wheel was developed to be used by schools, early
help, school nurses, LAC nurses, alternative provision, social workers and foster carers.

It supports front line practitioners to create conditions which support resilience and wellbeing, and provides a method of assessment to interpret the voice of the child and their behaviour, and identify strengths and unmet growth needs. It also provides strategies for front line practitioners to meet identified needs.

Additionally, philosophical enquiry resources provide young people with an opportunity to consider emotional experiences in a cognitive way.

Further resources include:

  • Team Talk – coordinates information communicated by health professionals to all  parents/carers of children pre-birth to 2 years
  • Five to Thrive - commissioned to be shared  with all parents during the ante-natal period, at the 6-8 week check and later, to provide early  targeted support
  • How to Be – to support parents and carers to develop skills to promote resilience and emotional regulation; can be used to support groups or individual parents/carers

The impact
Increased stability of education and care placements is reducing risk of placement breakdown and moves to higher cost placements.

The scheme has also delivered significant cost savings:

Cost avoidance in the general school population due to reduced exclusion - over 22 months (April 2016 – February 2018): £234,541.00

There are also reports from schools that young people are achieving greater academic success, teachers are experiencing reduced stress and school environments are more harmonious.

How is the new approach being sustained?
The project is being sustained through:

  • a centralised training programme
  • conferences
  • the multi-agency Emotional Wellbeing Forum
  • a whole-school training package designed to embed practice over time
  • production of supportive resources
  • developing peer support
  • support to apply thinking to complex cases.

Lessons learned
Key lessons have included:

  • the value of multi-agency working, but also specific challenges that need to be addressed, including understanding varying working practice and cultures in different organizations and moving practice forward in this context
  • the need to approach work differently with adults and children often operating within pressurized systems in a context of increased stress and a greater prevalence of mental health needs
  • the benefits of ‘listening to support change’ by interpreting the voice of the child through a lens that facilitates assessment of need for targeted interventions
  • the exponential impact of a common language and approach across agencies


Bright Futures

Bright Futures

Helping children and young people to fulfil their potential is a key ambition of all councils, but our children’s services are under increasing pressure. 

Bright Futures is our call for fully funded children's services.

Find out more