Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme: six months in

7 school children sitting opposite a teacher

The transformational Inclusive and Nurturing Schools (INS) Programme, commissioned by the London Violence Reduction Unit, is now in its sixth month of delivery. 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. Nurtureuk’s INS Programme Manager Jenny Perry shares her thoughts on the programme so far.


We are now six months into the Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme working with 70 schools across seven London boroughs, alongside our colleagues from Tender Education and Arts. What a six months it has been!

Fifty schools across five boroughs have started their nurturing journey through the Inclusion strand, whilst an additional ten schools from one borough are well underway with their work on the Healthy Relationships strand. 

A fundamental part of this programme, and what is at the core of the nurturing approach, is relationships. Strong, healthy, secure and trusting relationships help pupils to feel safe, staff to feel heard, and provide a sense of belonging for all. 

Whilst a large part of my role as Programme Manager involves spreadsheets and Gantt charts, the beginning of each new programme gives me the great privilege of meeting with school senior leaders before they start. It is an opportunity to talk through the programme, answer any questions and, most importantly, listen to them talk with pride and hope about their schools, their staff and their pupils. Despite all that is going on around them and everything that they still have to wade through in this post-pandemic world, they are all realistic but optimistic about the future and they all, without exception, have placed their pupils and the school community at the centre of all they do. That is why they want to be part of the Inclusive and Nurturing School’s programme.

This has come at the perfect time” is a phrase I have heard over and over again from head teachers and inclusion leads. The Covid-19 pandemic, the current cost of living crisis, and a society that shares negativity and doom on social media at every opportunity, is having a huge impact on the social, emotional and mental health of our children, their families and our teachers. 

Nurture helps to tackle this by getting to the root of children’s social, emotional and mental health difficulties and provide schools with the help they need to deliver the right support. It improves attendance, behaviour and attainment and ensures every child is able to learn. It supports schools in strengthening the relationships they have with all members of the community. Through the Healthy Relationships strand of the programme, Tender Education and Arts aim to empower the whole school community to address sexual harassment and gender-based violence by providing education, training and guidance.

The INS Programme offers participating schools training on a range of subjects including the Boxall Profile® Online, resources, activities and enrichment days to support training or to use with young people in the classroom, expert-led networking opportunities, and bespoke consultancy so that we are meeting the needs of every individual school.

Delivery begins for the Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme

Two school children and a teacher sitting together smiling

The Inclusive and Nurturing Schools (INS) Programme, commissioned by the London Violence Reduction Unit, is now being delivered across schools in Barking and Dagenham, Islington, and Greenwich. Nurtureuk’s INS Programme Manager Jenny Perry shares her thoughts on the programme so far.


As we begin another journey with London’s Violence Reduction unit, on the Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme, I have high hopes for its success. I am excited and aspirational about the impact we will have on the lives of thousands of children across London. Nurtureuk and Tender Education and Arts will be working with 70 schools across seven London boroughs to support schools in developing their knowledge, understanding and practice in the areas of inclusion and healthy relationships.  

Over the last three years we have seen the huge impact that embedding a whole-school nurturing approach can have, how building policies around the Six Principles of Nurture and relationships can improve the everyday school experiences of young people and have a genuinely felt impact on their lives.  

This story, told to us by one of the headteachers from a primary school on the Nurturing London VRU Programme, demonstrates the impact of a nurturing approach on a child, their teacher, the class and the whole school. It follows a young boy’s journey over nine months in the school.  

“This year one pupil was experiencing physical abuse at home. In the beginning it was extremely difficult to get this anxious and angry young person into school and the classroom.  With a nurturing approach, his class teacher was able to identify the emotional need behind the behaviour observed.  Alongside the individual support he received from our on-site Play Therapist, his teacher was able to offer him a nurturing approach in the classroom.  Trust was built by the teacher’s consistency, her ability to project a sense of calm, and by her adapting expectations and lowering task demands.  This small-steps approach, along with consistent reassurance and praise slowly built the pupil’s confidence to tackle tasks and to build peer friendships independently.  After four months of this approach, we started to see a much less angry young person – one who was coping, who only needed occasional reassurance and who had the ability to work with different adults.  Now, almost nine months later, we have a young person who loves their school and who comes in most days.  Their learning is still a level lower than age expectations, but they are willing to engage and to try.  

For me, this was a case of “self-exclusion” resulting from the violence experienced at home and school feeling unsafe to a scared and vulnerable young person.  I believe that our nurturing response, particularly that of the class teacher and the play therapist made the difference to this young person’s experience of school.”

The INS Programme aims to have a similar impact, by reducing exclusions and persistent absenteeism, increasing attendance and improving children and young people’s engagement and enjoyment of school. By creating a safe environment with trusted adults who listen, see and know the children and young people, and building policies and structures based on a framework of strong relationships, equity and inclusion, the programme aims to increase pupils’ sense of belonging. 

The foundation of the whole-school approach is the need for evidence – to gather a clear understanding of need, whether at a school, class or pupil level. The Boxall Profile® Online helps education professionals understand the social, emotional and behavioural needs of children. With an ever growing number of pupils with identified social, emotional and mental health needs in this post-pandemic world, being able to identify those needs and support teachers to understand and manage the impact of the behaviours exhibited by these young people is only going to become more important.

nurtureuk and Tender to deliver new inclusive education programme in London

A group of school children walking

nurtureuk and Tender are delighted to announce their roles in a transformational new programme aimed at tackling school exclusions in London.

The charities have been named as joint delivery partners for the London Violence Reduction Unit’s Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme, which is being rolled out across 70 schools in seven London Boroughs. It aims to keep children safe, supported, and thriving in school, tackle exclusions, and ensure children and young people have healthy relationship behaviours and attitudes.

nurtureuk, which champions nurture in education, and Tender, a charity specialising in the prevention of gender-based violence and the promotion of healthy relationships between children and young people, will deliver the programme in partnership.

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said: “We firmly believe in the importance of education and the support and guidance that good quality schools, colleges and alternative provision settings can give a young person. What’s also clear is there is a direct correlation between school exclusions and serious violence affecting young people.

“We’re redoubling our focus to minimise exclusions and keeping children and young people safe and engaged in their education. The VRU will be delivering a new, targeted programme – backed up with nearly £2m investment – to tackle school exclusions, sexual harassment and abuse.

“It’s crucial that we support schools – and our fantastic, hardworking teachers – to be safe and nurturing places where pupils’ needs – both educational and personal – can be identified early. We’re looking forward to working with nurtureuk and Tender in the delivery of our inclusive education programme to tackle school exclusions and help promote the importance of healthy relationships.”

nurtureuk CEO Arti Sharma said: “We’re delighted to help deliver this vital programme. Children are struggling with their social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing like never before. A nurturing approach in schools is now more essential than ever and this programme will ensure children are ready and able to learn. We look forward to working alongside Tender and the London Violence Reduction Unit to help achieve its aims of reducing exclusions and ensuring children can thrive in school.”

Tender CEO Susie McDonald said: “As one of Tender’s Youth Board members noted recently, preventing abuse and harassment is a form of care. We are therefore thrilled to be working with nurtureuk and the London Violence Reduction Unit to ensure that children receive the care and protection they need to enjoy and excel in their education. Positive social connections are foundational to children’s wellbeing, and we are excited to support schools to embed and embody healthy relationships education through this dynamic new programme.”

The initiative is being delivered in Barking and Dagenham, Enfield, Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham and Islington. The boroughs have been selected based on rates of suspension, absence, persistent absenteeism and pupils with special educational needs (SEN) support, as well as wider measures such as rates of Children in Need and domestic abuse incidents.