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The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

Erasmus+ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Interprofessional Working

The Erasmus+ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Interprofessional Working project aimed to develop, evaluate and disseminate best practice for interprofessional work in recognising and supporting children who have been through adverse experiences.

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What are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)

The term adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is used to describe experiences that directly hurt a child, such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or affect them through the environment in which they live (Bush, 2018). This includes growing up in a household where domestic violence, parental separation, mental illness, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse is present, or where someone has been incarcerated (Bellis et al., 2016, 2017).

ACEs are increasingly understood to have consequences for those who live them, both immediately and throughout their lives. They can impact on mental and physical health and affect the life choices that people make.

Interprofessional working

Interprofessional work is crucial in supporting people to overcome the challenges which they face and to help them live happier and more stable lives.

We are working with colleagues across the UK, Spain, Sweden and Italy. Our partners include primary, secondary and higher education providers, police and local authorities.

Partners in the United Kingdom include The Learning Institute (part of Westcountry Schools Trust), Devon and Cornwall Police, and Devon County Council.

Project aims and objectives

We are supporting each other and learning from each other in:

  • Setting a baseline of our understanding of ACEs and our skills base
  • Establishing a definition of interprofessional learning (IPL) which includes fostering mutual understanding between professionals and provides for transferable knowledge and skills.
  • Mapping the institutional landscape in the partner countries to ensure that training takes account of differences and similarities
  • Piloting a course for IPL
  • Compiling a handbook of strategies and procedures
  • Creating teaching resources
  • Developing virtual case studies as a tool for electronic learning
  • Producing webinars on IPL

The project objectives were delivered in 2020. Through dissemination, we hope that activities will develop a wider reach and legacy.

Project handbook

The project was conceived in 2017 in response to growing international awareness of the long term impact of trauma in childhood. The damage caused by experience of trauma, particularly of acute trauma, had been well recognised. Newer research made a strong argument that trauma from a range of different causes had a cumulative effect, and that different traumatic experiences compounded to make the impacts greater and longer lasting. Children with more of these experiences had correspondingly less chance of leading long, healthy and happy lives. This work on adverse childhood experiences – ACEs – led many children’s service organisations across the world to seek ways of becoming more trauma-informed.

This handbook is designed to guide readers to key resources relating to adverse childhood experiences and interprofessional working. It identifies key themes which are used to help the reader access resources which are of interest to them. The handbook was produced by a partnership of children’s services organisations in Italy, Spain, Sweden and England. It therefore provides access to key reading and training from each partner country. It aims to help readers understand comparative practice in the four countries.

Download the full Project Handbook here

A short course on ACEs and interprofessional working

Course outline

Research shows that the quality of how professions work together affects outcomes for children and young people who face adversity at home or in their communities.

The effectiveness of collaboration between professions is influenced by individual and organisational issues. This programme aims to enhance knowledge of the values, ideas and relationships within and across professional sectors in order to improve the outcomes for children and young people.

By training professionals from different disciplines together this programme aims to define competencies, share knowledge and understand different skills and attitudes in order to remove barriers to collaboration.

Exploration of new ways to combine expertise from different professions will allow strategies to improve the support for children living with adverse childhood experiences. The programme requires participants to have an understanding of the effects of toxic stress in children and young people, and how their experiences of adversity can lead to stress.

Download the full course outline here

Download the course handouts here

Download the facilitator version here


Pre-course task: Toxic Stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

This two hour CPD activity aims to raise your awareness of the impact of toxic stress and ACEs. You can undertake this training as an individual or in pairs/small groups. On completion, there will be opportunities for research and extended learning if this is your area of interest.

Access the pre-course task here

Resources on ACEs and interprofessional working

Information on:

  • The four services
  • Dictionary of key terms
  • What do you do when you detect a student with ACEs in Italy, Sweden, Spain And The UK?
  • Laws and Acts in Italy, Spain, the UK and Sweden with special reference to children with special needs and health
  • Social Services in Europe
  • Police in Europe
  • A collection of materials and resources from our partners

Download Output 3 here

Case studies

School psychologist Inger Carlsson. SIP - in the work with the school pupil.

Cases include:

  • Risk of exclusion
  • Absenteeism
  • Bullying
  • Abuse
  • Family problems

Download Output 04 here

A course on interprofessional working

‘IPE occurs when two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of education or support… and includes all such learning in academic and work-based settings before and after qualification, adopting an inclusive view of “professional”.’ (2006)

As Freeth (2007, p. 2) notes, IPE is primarily concerned with students or professionals actively learning together. The learning is based on an exchange of knowledge, understanding, attitudes or skills with an explicit aim of improving collaboration and outcomes.

IPL links closely to the concept and practices of interprofessional delivery where there is interaction among professionals that goes beyond having members of different professions sharing an environment together (Headrick et al., 1998) and interdisciplinary practice where professionals work collaboratively to improve outcomes (World Health Organization, 1988).

Download Output 06 here

Other project outputs

Exclusion in English schools: A report for Erasmus ACES project 2020

Inclusion Attention to Diversity

Multi-Agency Working: Collaborating for Positive Outcomes: Securing the best education outcomes for young people in Devon – an example of multi-agency working from the perspective of the Devon Virtual School

Radio interview: Zoe Nixon and Dan Rogerson talking to Pirate FM about the Erasmus ACEs project back in March 2019

Swedish partners' presentation of 06 and 07: ACEs project activity (December 3rd, 2020)

References and further reading

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