Delivery begins for the Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme

28 March 2023

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.