This article originates from real-world insights gained working in a specialist Early Help team in London, dedicated to supporting families and schools in preventing the exclusion of a child. It summarises how innovative Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) approaches, viewed through a trauma-informed lens, can powerfully transform the narrative from exclusion to inclusion for the children and families we work with.

Continuing national data consistently reveals that students from marginalised ethnic backgrounds, especially among black Caribbean individuals, are more likely to be permanently excluded from school when compared to their White British peers. This pattern corresponds with increased trauma in marginalised communities and children’s responses to trauma negatively impact education and other aspects of their lives, leading to poorer outcomes.

NVR has been a beacon of hope in addressing the disheartening disproportionality of school exclusions. It offers a trauma-informed approach to addressing challenging behaviour and empowering school staff to maintain authority. A trauma-informed school is a compassionate school that acknowledges that some of its children and staff will have experienced and continue to experience trauma including vicarious trauma. It is a school that understands the impact trauma can have on learning and behaviour. It is inclusive and prioritises “connection before correction”.

“The most important parenting act is not to break the child’s spirit.” (Haim Omer). This profound insight extends beyond the family unit to resonate within the walls of our educational institutions and Omer’s ideas of new authority in schools.

Traditionally, schools have relied on authoritative “old authority”, methods that often perpetuated an imbalanced power dynamic between teachers and students. The old authority model tended to enforce compliance through isolating, punitive measures, inadvertently alienating students and exacerbating behavioural issues. In contrast, the new authority model champions a paradigm shift.

New authority recognises that controlling or trying to “fix” the child may not be the most effective solution for addressing behavioural challenges. Instead, the focus shifts to raising teacher presence, self-control, support for staff and persistence. Educators act alongside parents, in supporting children to feel safe and “anchored” than perpetuating a cycle of punishment for behaviours that derive from a difficulty to regulate due to trauma.

The transformation from old to new authority is pivotal in creating an inclusive and supportive educational environment. However, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that schools face with limited resources and national pressures. There can be a range of barriers to fostering connection and raising presence in schools such as poor staff wellbeing, professionals both within and outside school not working together and challenges in communication between school and families.

Through NVR, school staff are empowered to respond, rather than react. There is a focus on delivering messages of care in addition to concern and prioritising, resisting, and persisting challenging behaviour. By adopting NVR, educators do not feel isolated in their roles as they have a network of supporters. They gain tools to de-escalate conflict and build trust with students and their families. NVR encourages dialogue and problem-solving, also empowering students to be heard in a safe environment.

In conclusion, the journey towards dismantling the disproportionality of school exclusions necessitates a shift in the way we approach authority in education. Embracing trauma-informed approaches empowers educators to become allies in students’ journeys, fostering resilience and healing. Schools are discovering the benefits of working this way and there is a hope that through collaborative efforts with parents, carers, and schools, we can collectively contribute to an education system that not only imparts knowledge but also fosters the well-being and development of every student.


Jakob, P. (2018). Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) Advanced Level Manual NVR Certificate Course. Working with Trauma.  London: Partnership Projects.

Omer, H. (2021). Courageous Teachers. Developing a New Authority to Cope with Violence and Chaos. London: Amazon.

Written by

Stacey Edmead,
Family & Systemic Psychotherapist,
Early Help, School Inclusion Team
Accreditation Module Participant, 2023



This blog provides general information and discussions about NVR and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as professional advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a concern, you should consult with a professional NVR advisor. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.

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