A child's ability to learn is influenced by the soft skills she or he learns in the home. (e.g. sociability, perseverance, self-esteem, delayed gratification, self-regulation - Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman).

When children have not learned these skills they are already disadvantaged before they get to nursery or school. If the optimum period of support for struggling parents is missed then another opportunity to help arises when children begin nursery or school.

Science tells us that the earlier the help the better the outcomes. WAVE advocates for national adoption of primary prevention - preventing abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences BEFORE they happen. If that opportunity is missed then early intervention 'after the event' should be taking place before age 3 where possible.

By age 3 the most aggressive children are already 10 times more aggressive than their peaceable counterparts (Prof. Richard Tremblay).

How schools handle aggressive children on arrival at school could determine their life chances.

Using a trauma-informed approach in one school yielded these results:

(i) understanding how to help traumatised children - up 61%

(ii) use of trauma sensitive practices - up 49%

and within 5 years:

incidents involving physical aggression - down 86%

out of school suspensions - down by 95%

How they did it:

In San Francisco, the Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (HEARTS) Programme promotes school success for trauma- impacted students through a whole-school approach utilising a multi-tiered framework.

Tier 1 involves school-wide universal support to change school cultures into learning environments that are more safe, supportive and trauma-informed.

Tier 2 involves capacity building with school staff to facilitate the incorporation of a trauma-informed lens into the development of support for at-risk students, school-wide concerns and disciplinary procedures.

Tier 3 involves intensive interventions for students suffering from the impact of trauma.