A powerful portrayal of the need for nurture

8 November 2022

Serious violence, gang membership and sexual exploitation – the final report from the Commission On Young Lives (COYL) paints a horrifying picture of the growing risks for vulnerable young people. 

It tells of youngsters being groomed, and lives and communities being destroyed by criminal activity. 

But it also sets out robust recommendations for creating vital change and protecting children and young people from harm – one of which is encouraging a new era of inclusive education. 

nurtureuk has long called for an inclusive education system that prioritises relationships and wellbeing and seeks to reduce exclusions. And we know that nurture is the way to make this happen. We’re delighted to see this key recommendation within the report. 

Nurture gets to the heart of a child’s challenges and supports children and young people to build connections and resilience. It is a highly effective way of supporting improved behaviour and increased attendance in schools, leading to better attainment and reduced exclusions. 

The COYL report recognises nurture’s importance, specifically calling for “a greater focus on nurture” in schools. The Commission proposes a new national action plan to protect those most at risk of exploitation and harm and to support all young people to leave education with improved life chances. This would mainstream some of the positive work of Violence Reduction Units (VRUs).

We’ve been working with VRUs for the past two years to reduce school exclusions and youth violence. Our latest involvement is as joint delivery partners of the Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme, commissioned by London’s VRU. The programme aims to keep children safe, supported, and thriving in school, tackle exclusions, and ensure children and young people have healthy relationship behaviours and attitudes. It is being rolled out across 70 schools in seven London Boroughs. 

In her report, COYL chair Anne Longfield asks: “Who could propose that all our schools are well-funded and inclusive, that exclusions are always a last resort and that every child gets the help they need to succeed?”

We know, of course, that this is not the case. That’s why our work with schools is so essential. Teachers, who are often juggling high workloads, the multiple and diverse needs of pupils, and the pressure to deliver academic results, want the very best for the children in their care. But they must be properly supported and resourced in order to deliver it. Nurture provides them with the proven tools they need to help children thrive. 

We’ve been championing nurture for more than 50 years and we know it works. We’re determined to keep changing lives by ensuring children are ready and able to learn. We very much look forward to continuing to work with all those who are striving to change the system for the better – let’s ensure children and young people have the best possible chance of successful futures.

Arti Sharma
CEO nurtureuk