School’s back! What should Damian Hinds focus on this year?

It’s the start of a new school year – time for new ideas, plans and approaches.  We want to hear from you about what you think the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, should focus on this year.

We are calling on the government for a new approach that puts pupil’s wellbeing at the heart of the education system and rebalances the focus of schools towards supporting pupil’s wellbeing, resilience and social and emotional skills.  This is because we know that mental wellbeing is the key ingredient to succeeding in schools and we are passionate about reversing the increasing levels of social, emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties experienced by children and young people.

For this to happen we need to see a refocus of our education system, starting with these three steps:

  1. Embedding nurture in education:  We want to see the 6 principles of nurture embedded throughout the policies and practices of all schools to create a more nurturing, happier, more resilient and successful school community.  We know our whole-school National Nurturing Schools Programme (NNSP) is having a positive effect on schools across the country and want more pupils and teachers to benefit (see here for more details of the NNSP).
  2. Better understanding social emotional and behavioural needs of pupils in a classroom:  Teachers can only provide effective interventions and support to children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties if they understand those needs.  The Boxall Profile provides a way for teachers to better understand the wellbeing needs of each pupil in their classroom, and the dynamics of the whole classroom.
  3. Reducing exclusions:  Through our #AspireNotToExclude campaign we want to end permanent exclusions in the UK through achieving universal access to nurturing interventions for all pupils.  There are 35 exclusions every school day, and the number is rising.  If greater emphasis were placed on looking at the underlying causes of behaviour, fewer children would be excluded.  It is vital that all children in schools have access to nurturing approaches and are supported to access education, not removed from school. 

Also, we can’t get away from funding needs, as highlighted in NAHT’s excellent report published this week, ‘Empty promises – the crisis in supporting children with SEND’.  Schools are under immense pressure at the moment and we know that some beloved nurture groups are under threat because of hard choices schools are having to make.  Schools need more funding and support in order to provide the inclusive, nurturing education that is needed for all pupils, and particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What do you think?  Email jane@nurtureuk.org or join in our conversations on our Twitter, Facebook page, Facebook group to let us know.