Labour Party Conference – An Inclusive Approach to Tackling Exclusions and the School Absence Crisis

By Arti Sharma, CEO, nurtureuk 

Nurtureuk hosted its first fringe event at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool this month and how heartening it was to be in a room full of individuals who absolutely get that ‘happy children learn better’.

The event was chaired by Anne Longfield CBE, Chair of the Commission on Young Lives, and I was joined on the panel by Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), and Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney and Cabinet member for Education, Children and Young People. My fellow panellists couldn’t have been any clearer about the desperate need for an education system that truly values, respects and nurtures all our children and young people. 

As Anne outlined: “An increasing number of children are falling through the gaps in education and not surprisingly it’s the most vulnerable children who are the most affected”. We now have a quarter of children – that’s one day in ten who are persistently absent from school. She also highlighted that we are seeing more and more children being suspended or excluded as they can’t cope in the classroom. Surely, this can’t be right and an accepted state of being for our children.

Four women sitting next to each other at a table

Lib Peck shared how she took a group of young people (part of the VRU’s Young People’s Action Group) to share their diverse views on the current and future education system and it was clear that culturally we fail to talk to young people about issues that affect them directly. 

Lib said: “Children and young people can’t thrive in systems that are unadaptable or inflexible – what young people want to see is more emphasis on mental health, relationships, safe spaces and the ability to express themselves and a more rounded education system”. 

The VRU team are acutely aware of the dangers of exploitation that can occur during the hours of 3-10pm when children are not in school. 

Cllr Bramble represents Hackney, where nurture began over 50 years ago. As a SENCO in her previous working life, she completed nurtureuk training in the Theory and Practice of Nurture Groups. So she truly understands that “education only works if children feel loved, safe, secure and happy”. She further pointed out that “academic accolades and great results are not as impactful if we don’t have well-grounded human beings that feel confident with hope”. 

As the panel highlighted, an inclusive education system is a vital part of a successful society that allows children and young people to truly flourish and ultimately results in better outcomes for us all. 

I believe that nurture is the way to create that system. 

Nurture is a tried and tested, proven way of relating to children – based on established principles – that builds up their self esteem, develops their social and emotional skills and ensures they are ready to learn. It centres on identifying and meeting children’s social and emotional needs. Happy children learn better. And children can’t learn effectively if they don’t have the right social and emotional skills to do so. 

When schools do nurture well, and pupils’ SEMH needs are identified and addressed, the effect is transformative. Attendance improves, exclusions reduce and behaviour and attainment is better. But sadly, nurture is not yet the norm. 

And it does require dedication, commitment and consistency. 

We speak to teachers every day who tell us that our programmes are exactly what they’ve been looking for – and they haven’t arrived a moment too soon. I’m thinking particularly of those schools participating in our INS Programme funded by the VRU – who are really struggling in the aftermath of some horrific situations and who are desperately searching for a way to properly support their pupils and ensure that despite everything they can still get through the school gate, they can still come into the classroom, and they can keep learning. 

When a school adopts nurture, this is what happens, and the school becomes a place people truly want to be – both children and teachers. I was in a school in London just recently where the headteacher spoke powerfully about how nurture had turned things around. How exclusions were lower than ever, how attendance was where it had never been before, where relationships with parents and amongst staff were blossoming.

That’s why we’re calling for teachers to be properly trained, supported and required to identify and meet children’s social and emotional needs. 

As we closed our party conference session, the packed room of attendees shared our collective vision and said they felt hopeful that a future where inclusive education and nurture could be the norm was a future worth fighting for.

By Arti Sharma, CEO, nurtureuk 


A powerful portrayal of the need for nurture

Four school children and a teacher standing next to eachother

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

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.

An important step in the right direction – new behaviour guidance is a welcome shift

Photo of a female teacher and school children sitting at a table at school

New guidance that highlights the importance of a whole school approach to behaviour is now in force in schools in England. 

The advice, published by the Department for Education (DfE), makes a welcome move away from the more punitive approach of former guidance – but does it go far enough? 

Whole school approach

The guidance acknowledges that it is up to individual schools to develop their own best practice for behaviour management, but it gives a steer on how schools can and should ‘create a culture with high expectations of behaviour’. It is refreshing to see that school leaders are encouraged to take proactive steps to focus on positive behaviour. For example, the guidance suggests implementing a “behaviour curriculum” which clearly sets out what positive behaviour should look like. Staff should also have training on the behaviour policy and model the expected behaviour, and pupils should be routinely inducted and reminded of expectations, the advice says. The overarching aim of the new guidance is to create a “calm, safe and supportive environment” (a phrase emphasised repeatedly), as this limits disruption and promotes a school culture where children and young people can learn and thrive.

The guidance could go further still and recognise that behaviour policies can play an important role in fostering a nurturing environment and that a school culture needs to enable healthy social and emotional development for all pupils. For example, sections 41 to 44 of the guidance explain that responses to misbehaviour should aim to maintain the positive culture of the school and restore a calm and safe environment. There is a list of the various objectives as including: deterrence, protection and improvement. All these are important of course, but the obvious omission is the aim of supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of the pupil.

Nurturing approaches

There are a number of references to nurturing approaches – the guidance mentions “small groups” as being useful initial intervention strategies following behavioural incidents[1]. Still, nurtureuk would have liked the guidance to recognise that a nurturing approach is a central part of how schools can achieve the aim of “calm, safe and supportive environments” through behaviour policies.

The DfE consulted on the new guidance ahead of its publication. When asking which types of early intervention work best to address behaviour issues, the consultation found “many responses suggested targeted interventions to help pupils in managing their emotions and behaviour, such as mindfulness, emotion coaching, behaviour support plans, small nurture groups and support with transition from primary to secondary”[2]. It is disappointing that this emphasis is largely missing in the guidance itself.

Pupil transition and communication

It is encouraging to see the updated guidance takes into account the role of transitions on pupil behaviour. Section 10, which sets out what school behaviour policies should cover, includes – the importance of transition in children’s lives and advises that behaviour policies include detail on transitions, including the induction and re-induction into behaviour systems, rules, and routines’.[3]

Transition is one of the six principles of nurture, and it is good to see it included here. One of the other six principles: all behaviour is communication, is however not so well reflected in the guidance. A common response to the consultation regarding minimum standards of behaviour was that the guidance should recognise behaviour as both a form of communication and evidence of unmet need. It is therefore surprising that the updated guidance sidesteps this and continues instead to focus on ‘expectations’ of good behaviour.[4]

Overall, schools will find much of the updated guidance helpful in developing approaches to behaviour policy, with a whole-school approach that is consistent, inclusive and positive. There are signs here too that the new direction set by the Timpson Review, to prevent inappropriate and premature use of exclusions, is going in the right direction. However, nurtureuk would like to see future advice go further – fully reflecting the need for nurture in schools to enable all children and young people to be ready and able to learn. 


[1] Behaviour in Schools – Advice for headteachers and school staff (, section 96

[2] Government response to Behaviour guidance and Exclusions guidance consultation July 2022 (, page 13.

[3] Behaviour in Schools – Advice for headteachers and school staff (, section 10

[4] Government response to Behaviour guidance and Exclusions guidance consultation July 2022 ( page 7. 


The importance of a whole school approach – welcoming new guidelines on wellbeing in education.

A female teacher helping a boy with his work at school

New guidelines on wellbeing in education have highlighted the need for a whole school approach to social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). 

The guidelines have been published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and nurtureuk contributed to their creation. We are pleased with many of the recommendations, particularly the adoption of a whole school approach to support positive, social, emotional and mental wellbeing – something we are working hard to implement in schools across the UK. We believe that a nurturing approach to education is vital to improving the wellbeing of the whole school community.

Children are struggling with their social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing like never before. And those who have missed out on vital early care and relationship experiences can’t learn or function effectively. They suffer from developmental gaps and many display challenging and disruptive behaviour. Others withdraw, and struggle to engage or form relationships.

A whole school approach means that all children who require SEMH support are more likely to be identified and receive the right help at the right time. This approach ensures no child falls through the cracks and all children benefit, reaping the rewards of a more positive learning environment. 

The new NICE guidelines specifically recommend that schools’ policies and procedures are consistent with relational approaches to social, emotional and mental wellbeing – a central component of nurture. The guidelines also highlight the importance of transitions, in line with one of the key principles of nurture

The nurturing approach offers a range of opportunities for children and young people to engage with missing early nurturing experiences, giving them the social and emotional skills to do well at school and in life. At its core is a focus on wellbeing and relationships and a drive to support the growth and development of children and young people. 

Our National Nurturing Schools Programme guides staff through the process of embedding a nurturing culture throughout their schools, enhancing teaching and learning, and improving outcomes for children. The programme includes access to The Boxall Profile®, nurtureuk’s unique assessment tool which enables teachers to develop a precise and accurate understanding of children’s social and emotional competencies and behavioural needs and skills, and plan effective interventions and support.

Every child should be given the same opportunities to lay the foundations for a rewarding adulthood. We hope to see all schools commit to these new guidelines and crucially, we want to see long-term government investment in nurturing approaches in schools in order to transform the lives of vulnerable children and give them the best chance to thrive. 

Supporting all young children to succeed at school: nurtureuk responds to COYL report

Commission on Young Lives logo

A series of stories about young children being repeatedly failed by the education system make for some shocking reading.

The tales have been included in a vital new report launched by the Commission on Young Lives that calls for a ban on primary school exclusions. 

All Together Now: Inclusion not exclusion contains sobering statistics relating to the high number of children in England excluded from school. It looks at how thousands of vulnerable children are falling through gaps in the education system, putting them at risk not only of low attainment but also serious violence, county lines, criminal exploitation, grooming and harm.

nurtureuk has long called for an inclusive education system that prioritises wellbeing and seeks to reduce exclusions. We’re delighted to see direct reference in this new report to the transformational work we’re carrying out with the London Violence Reduction Unit – supporting schools to develop a whole school nurturing approach. 

As All Together Now so clearly demonstrates, exclusions do not work. They do not improve behaviour and almost always lead to poor academic outcomes for children. 

In cases where challenging behaviour is directly linked to trauma and adverse experiences like separation from family, exposure to family conflict, parental substance abuse exposure and maternal depression, excluding pupils simply confounds the problem and isolates them further – exacerbating feelings of rejection and resulting in marginalisation. 

Excluded young people are more likely to go to prison, be unemployed and develop severe mental health issues. A new approach is urgently needed, one that actively addresses the underlying causes of exclusions and works to reduce them. And of course, teachers need to be properly supported and resourced in order to implement this. 

We’re delighted to see repeated references to nurture within this new report, including a key recommendation that specialist nurture programmes are brought into primary and secondary schools to replace in-school alternative provision.

We couldn’t agree more. Nurture is transformational and it is improving the life chances of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

The nurturing approach offers a range of opportunities for children and young people to engage with missing early nurturing experiences, giving them the social and emotional skills to do well at school and with peers, develop their resilience and their capacity to deal more confidently with the trials and tribulations of life, for life.

We are committed to bringing nurture and all its benefits to schools across the UK. Let’s support our children to thrive. 

Arti Sharma 

Chief Executive Officer, nurtureuk

Nurtureuk and SafeLives help to increase knowledge of domestic abuse in schools

nurtureuk and safelives logos

On Wednesday 27 April, nurtureuk invited SafeLives to join a networking event as part of our Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) programme. 

SafeLives is a leading UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse for everyone, for good. They work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse. 

In the UK, around 20% of children have been exposed to domestic abuse¹, and SafeLives found that just under half of those are being directly harmed by the family member². They developed the Safe Young Lives programme to discover, understand, design, and develop learning and interventions which are informed by the voice and experiences of children and young people. 

Statistics about young people and domestic abuse

Nurtureuk welcomed SafeLives to the event to increase knowledge and confidence in schools around domestic abuse, including young people’s experiences of domestic abuse in their own relationships, and as victims living in a household where it occurs. 

Young people are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse and the links between domestic violence and other violent crime, whether as a victim or perpetrator, are clear. Schools in our nurtureuk VRU programmes have spoken to us many times about wanting to increase their knowledge in identifying and supporting their young people: they know that amazing services and organisations exist but don’t necessarily know how to access them. We were therefore delighted to welcome SafeLives to one of our network meetings to talk about some of their programmes, specifically for young people who may be victims of, witnesses to, or perpetrators of domestic violence.” – Jenny Perry, VRU Programme Manager, nurtureuk

The session also included insights that aim to impact and improve the safety of young people, in addition to resources for use in conversations as well as in curriculums and networks.

For more information on the fantastic work that SafeLives do, please visit their website:





Nurtureuk and RoadWorks LDN collaborate to help tackle social exclusion


We are delighted to be working with RoadWorks LDN as part of our Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) programme. 

RoadWorks LDN aims to tackle social exclusion and reduce serious youth violence by supporting young people to navigate their social worlds safely, and communicate their experiences through writing and in conversations. They deliver a variety of workshops that explore British youth culture, social theory, English literature and language, and current affairs.

A photo of three men with a nurtureuk logo and PATTERN logo

After reading ‘Cut Short: Youth Violence, Loss and Hope in the City, the recent book from RoadWorks LDN founder Ciaran Thapar, nurtureuk’s Associate Consultant Trainer Siobhán Garrett saw an opportunity to provide additional support to the schools taking part in the London VRU programme.

In particular, the themes of shame, rejection and powerlessness that surface repeatedly in Ciaran’s book resonated with the work of the London VRU team. Nurturing Schools are the antidote to these experiences; relational safety, nurture and compassion that pull children and families into connection with schools, rather than driving them further away, is what our training and support programme is all about.”  

Each school on the programme received a copy of the book, and Ciaran led a networking event that enabled schools to reflect on his story, and the stories of the young men in his book.

Ciaran’s work inspired the London VRU team to explore a partnership programme that would allow for necessary and important work to happen directly with young people who have been deeply affected by London’s youth violence epidemic.

The team developed the Pattern Programme, in partnership with Ciaran Thapar, Franklyn Addo, and Demetri Addison from RoadWorks LDN, which will provide a weekly space for students to take part in guided critical discussions covering topics such as social media, storytelling, justice, authority, and education. The programme content is inspired by Ciaran’s book, and will encourage discussion, reading, and writing as useful and enjoyable activities for understanding social issues. 

The pilot project will run for 6 weeks in the spring term, and aims to improve participants’ relationships and experiences of school, as well as building their confidence and competence in creative writing. By combining contemporary British urban youth culture with academic subjects such as Philosophy, Sociology and English Literature, the programme will help participants to develop critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and conversational skills.

The programme aims to create a positive ‘pattern’ for participants who are deemed to be at risk of exclusion, and all workshops will be delivered with flexible and trauma-informed youth work practice. This will allow for a blend of structured and informal conversation, and ultimately provide a relaxed, enjoyable and stimulating intervention for students who otherwise find school and classroom-based learning challenging.

Nurtureuk launches manifesto for inclusive education

a manifesto for nurture text

We believe in an inclusive education system. Currently pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs are more likely to be excluded and are often unable to achieve their full potential in the classroom. We want to change that, so we’ve launched our manifesto for nurture with recommendations to ensure no pupil faces barriers to their education. 

This year marks 50 years since the first nurture group was started in Hackney, London. Marjorie Boxall, then employed as an educational psychologist by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), noticed that large numbers of young children were entering primary school with severe emotional, behavioural, and social difficulties. This was leading to unmanageable rates of referrals to special schools or for child guidance treatment.

At the time, these children were considered “maladapted” but Marjorie understood the difficulties presented by most of them were the outcome of impoverished early nurturing. Nurture groups were developed to provide “restorative experiences and development experiences” to these children, many of whom came from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds.

50 years on, despite many years without resourcing or support until the establishment of a formal charity in 2006, nurture provision has endured, and is now used in over 2,000 schools across the UK to  support children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural issues to access education.

Yet there are thousands of young people in the UK who are still not properly supported to engage with education. Across the UK, both formal and informal exclusions disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged students, with far higher rates of exclusion for pupils from the most deprived households.

In England in particular, recent years have seen more pupils being formally excluded from the education system, but we have also seen an increase in the use of informal exclusion of ‘off-rolling’. We know this affects children who could have been supported through nurture approaches: 1 in 4 with recognised social, emotional or mental health needs experienced at least one unexplained exit during secondary school.

According to a 2017 report from IPPR (Making The Difference: Breaking the Link Between School Exclusion and Social Exclusion) excluded pupils are “twice as likely to be in the care of the state, four times more likely to have grown up in poverty, seven times more likely to have a special educational need and 10 times more likely to suffer recognised mental health problems.”

Much has been said about the need for a good behaviour culture in school. We believe a good behaviour culture is one that recognises that all behaviour is communication and that seeks the underlying causes of difficult behaviour and acts to address them. As one nurture teacher told us:

If pupils don’t feel happy and safe within school, they won’t learn anyway, so you can carry on teaching ’till your heart’s content but they won’t take it in if they don’t feel happy, secure and their basic needs aren’t being met.”

That’s why we believe every child should have access to assessment using the Boxall Profile. The Boxall Profile is an educational psychologist-designed, teacher developed assessment tool which enables teachers to develop a precise and accurate understanding of an individual child’s social and emotional competencies and behavioural needs and the levels of their skills to access learning, in order to plan effective interventions and support activities, and monitor progress.

For more than 50 years, nurture groups have proven to be an effective intervention both in primary and secondary schools, giving vital support to some of our most vulnerable pupils to help them overcome social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Nurture groups foster emotional wellbeing in vulnerable children, reduce aggression and incidences of withdrawn behaviour, increase educational engagement, reduce exclusions and create a more inclusive ethos in schools. We believe every child that needs it should have access to intensive support within an evidence based provision such as a nurture group.

Our whole-school National Nurturing Schools Programme is now helping schools to use the principles of nurture to focus on the emotional needs and development as well as academic learning of all students, enhancing teaching and learning and promoting healthy outcomes, resilience and improved wellbeing for all children. We believe every school should implement a whole-school approach to emotional health and wellbeing.

Nurture has momentum, but we want the benefits of nurture to reach every child in every school, and for every child who needs it to have access to the more focused intervention of a nurture group. With nurture we can build resilience, improve wellbeing and break down barriers to learning and achieving. We hope you will support us in our mission to improve the social, emotional health and behaviour of children and young people through nurture in schools.

It’s time for an inclusive education system. Through greater prioritisation of social and emotional learning and wellbeing, we can create a school system which leaves no pupil behind.

Our manifesto calls for the next government to:

  1. Enable universal access to Boxall Profile assessment
  2. Ensure there is a whole-school approach to nurture in every school
  3. Invest in evidence-based provisions to improve mental health and wellbeing in schools and intervene early to tackle difficult behaviour and reduce exclusions

Read our manifesto in full

Support our manifesto? Join our campaign by posting on social media:

I support the @nurtureuktweets manifesto for an #inclusiveeducation for children with social, emotional and behavioural needs. #nurtureforall

The nurtureuk guide to implementing Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools

children at library one smilling

Today, nurtureuk publishes its guide to implementing the Department for Education in England’s advice document regarding mental health and behaviour in schools.

In November 2018 the Department for Education in England (DfE) published its advice document Mental health and behaviour in schools. This guidance for English schools is just as relevant in other parts of the UK and in other countries because it directly confronts one of the most pressing issues in education today.

As evidence from the Boxall Childhood Project (BCP)2 clearly shows, the social, emotional mental health (SEMH) and behavioural difficulties that children and young people are experiencing has reached epidemic proportions. From the 6,800 pupils who were assessed from the primary schools that took part in the Boxall Childhood Project, the evidence shows 10% of pupils are presenting with high levels of SEMH needs, and 26% with moderate needs.

Boys in primary schools are three times more likely to experience high levels of SEMH needs. It is small wonder that teachers are experiencing what they sometimes describe as a ‘tsunami’ of mental health needs in the classroom.

The challenging behaviour this mental health tsunami produces has resulted in rocketing exclusion rates that have in turn been cited as a principle driver of anti-social behaviour, leading to violent crime, and in particular – knife crime.

The need to address these issues has never been more pressing, and implementing the advice in the Mental health and behaviour in schools White Paper can have a significant impact as the evidence shows. In this publication we look at how this guidance can be effectively implemented in the school setting and the benefits not just for the children, young people and schools, but also for society as a whole.

You can download and read the nurtureuk‘s guide to mental health and behaviour in schools in full HERE

Commenting on the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework, nurtureuk chief executive Kevin Kibble said: “At a time when the Department for Education (DfE) is highlighting the issues of mental health & behaviour in schools, the newly-published Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework does little to help teachers address these needs.”

This was an ideal opportunity to bring ITT into the 21st century, equipping new teachers with the skills, or at least the methodology to obtain them, to identify and tackle the mushrooming prevalence of social, emotional, mental health & behavioural needs of the most vulnerable pupils. Nowhere is there reference to what we now know about brain development and how it impacts on a child’s ability to learn. Where is the overwhelming evidence of the adverse effects on child development of early childhood trauma and how our knowledge is evidenced by neuroscience? And what about attachment awareness or the importance of the teacher-pupil relationship in building secure attachments?

This feels like a ‘business as usual’ approach and misses the chance to really step forward in ITT. It’s no wonder we fail to hold on to so many of our new teachers for more than a few years.

If you’d like to find out more about how the Boxall Profile® can be used to respond to the SEMH needs of children and young people, please contact nurtureuk‘s Boxall Profile® team on [email protected].