MPs discuss the benefits of nurturing interventions in Parliament and call for increased nurture provision for all schools
Nurturing interventions drew cross-party support and enthusiasm in a Westminster Hall debate on nurture and alternative provision in Parliament last week.
Ben Bradley, the Conservative MP who tabled the debate, emphasised the benefits of nurture as an early intervention providing children with the necessary social and emotional skills to succeed, and preventing more severe mental health problems later in life. He highlighted the excellent nurturing practice of Forest Town Primary School, which received the Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark award for its nurture group in March 2018.
Labour’s Emma Hardy intervened in the debate to call for the inclusion of measures reflecting whole-school nurturing approaches in school inspection and accountability frameworks, which would recognise and further incentivise nurture provision.
Other Education Committee members highlighted the recommendations of the Committee’s recent report into alternative provision, which found the quality of teaching in alternative provision facilities is often poor and highlighted that school exclusions regularly lead to a cycle of negative outcomes for the most vulnerable young people.
Nurture groups and interventions were recognised in the debate as an effective measure for preventing school exclusions through holistic in-school support. Ben Bradley MP said: “Over the last three years, school exclusions have risen by more than 40%, if there was ever a time to invest in early intervention and nurture care, it is now. This early support, if properly managed, can set children up for their whole lives at school.”
Marion Fellows of the SNP stated that nurture groups “are recognised as the best way forward for children, especially those from a disadvantaged background”, and cited the high number of nurture groups in Scotland as evidence of a correct approach to children’s wellbeing in Scotland.
In a ministerial response on behalf of the Government, Schools Minister Nick Gibb cited the need to mainstream a whole-school approach, which would “set high expectations and standards for all pupils, while providing support for the most vulnerable children, including those with mental health issues, those in care and those with special educational needs and disabilities”.
He highlighted forthcoming national reforms to children and young people’s mental health services set out in the Government’s CAMHS Green Paper and looked ahead to the findings of the Timpson review on school exclusions, due to be published imminently. While acknowledging that it was “for schools to decide which interventions to offer,” he cited the widely acknowledged benefits of nurture groups.
We are delighted to see a growing national consensus around ending school exclusions through in-school nurturing interventions and whole-school approaches. Ongoing implementation of the CAMHS Green Paper, the NHS Long Term Plan, and soon the Timpson School Exclusion Review offer important opportunities to embed this approach at all levels of our education system. Nurtureuk’s work embodies the whole-school ethos which the government’s plans set out, and our interventions should play a significant role in their implementation.