Our most vulnerable children are playing catch-up

Our most vulnerable children are playing catch-up

Our most vulnerable children are playing catch-up

30 Jan 2024

3 min read

30 Jan 2024

3 min read

30 Jan 2024

3 min read

There is a famous science experiment in which it is alleged that if you put fleas in a

jar with the lid on they will jump and jump hitting their heads on the roof of the jar

until they learn that this is a pointless, frustrating and painful activity - at which point

they stop jumping high and only jump as high as the jar: no longer hitting their heads

on the ceiling. The thing is that this continues even when the lid of the jar is

removed: the fleas have learnt to jump to the height to which their circumstances

allow. Even more staggering is that when the fleas reproduce, their children follow

their parents’ example and only jump as high as the jar and no further – lid or no lid.

They have learned how high they are allowed to jump. Whether this experiment has

been peer reviewed and this is an academically rigorous analysis of flea behaviour is

beyond the scope of this blog, but it is a powerful representation of what happens to

some of our most vulnerable children.


There is significant evidence that trauma experienced at a young age has profound

implications for the way our brains grow. MRI scans show the difference between the

shape and formation of the brain of a child who has received consistent love and

one-to-one attention with that of a child who's been abused, neglected or ignored -

you can literally see the difference. The prefrontal cortex does not mature as well

and essential parts of development and brain growth are affected. Trauma affects

children’s cognitive processes. Our most vulnerable children are playing catch-up

before they have even begun.


The good news is there is the potential for neural pathways to be changed and

adapted, there is hope. The brain is ever-changing and even the most traumatised

child with the right support can overcome habits that once seemed unbreakable.

Children who have been traumatised need not be left behind.


At Lumina we work to redress the balance and support looked after children, children

known to the care system who have experienced great trauma in their lives. They

are behind their peers and they're struggling to pass key facilitating exams for the

next stage of their lives. The educational journey is in danger of ending before it has

even begun. We change this narrative by offering them unconditional support. We

pair a looked after child, with a brilliant teacher and that teacher tutors them through

the whole academic year or up to their next public exam. We ask our teachers to

volunteer their time. This is a vital part of what we do - teachers are doing this

because they believe in it. Lumina is a programme that shows how teachers can

change the dial for a young person, not paying lip service to partnership but

changing children’s lives through collaboration, kindness and consistency – to have

the impact we dreamt of when we signed up for the world’s greatest profession. If

more teachers join Lumina we can grow our movement so that we're working with

thousands of looked after children - we will change the dial for these young people

and we will have a profound effect on their future and educational outcomes – we will

change their world.


I am better at my job (a teacher of Mathematics) because of Lumina. I have

developed ways of teaching considering meta-cognition and research into the effect

that trauma has on the developing brain. I now understand how this can have lifelong

consequences and can even be passed through generations. My learnings from

Lumina have translated into better practice in the classroom.


Better teachers, serious impact, potential unleashed, and the direction of young lives

transformed – it is hard to argue against signing up to support the Lumina

programme. Get in-touch if you would like to make a difference.

Join the movement

Become a Lumina Fellow and volunteer your time as a one-on-one online tutor or mentor for care-experienced young people. Your contribution will support the ongoing operation of the Lumina program and enable us to reach more deserving students.

Join the movement

Become a Lumina Fellow and volunteer your time as a one-on-one online tutor or mentor for care-experienced young people. Your contribution will support the ongoing operation of the Lumina program and enable us to reach more deserving students.

Join the movement

Become a Lumina Fellow and volunteer your time as a one-on-one online tutor or mentor for care-experienced young people. Your contribution will support the ongoing operation of the Lumina program and enable us to reach more deserving students.

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You can stay informed about Lumina's updates, success stories, and events by subscribing to our newsletter or following our social media channels.

By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy

© 2024 Lumina. All rights reserved.

Designed & Built by

Sign up for our newsletter

You can stay informed about Lumina's updates, success stories, and events by subscribing to our newsletter or following our social media channels.

By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy

© 2024 Lumina. All rights reserved.

Designed & Built by