We know that the ability of a child to connect to school (particularly from the age of 10 upwards) is a key protective factor that lowers the likelihood of health-risk behaviours, while also enhancing positive educational outcomes (Resnick et al., 1993; Resnick, 2000; Glover et al., 1998; Blum & Libbey, 2004; Libbey, 2004).
We know that where attachment in the classroom context is more secure, relationships can surmount social inequality. And we know that where they are weak or fragile, they reinforce educational disadvantage.
For young people, experiencing better relationships between those around them, and also between themselves and others, results in better mental health and behaviour, lower rates of absence, bullying and disengagement, and improved progress and attainment. Our hope is that young people who have experienced better relationships in their schools will go on realise the benefits for themselves in later life, but also to improve society more generally through being better able to develop healthy relationships themselves.
Schools themselves benefit as organisations from being more relational in their practice, seeing more engaged and motivated employees, better staff retention, and – critically – the achievement of aims that relate to student progress and achievement.