Timpson Review calls for more support for nurture groups

Our Chief Executive, Kevin Kibble, responds to the Timpson Review into school exclusions

I welcome this week’s publication of the Timpson Review and its focus on helping teachers to support children in schools, whether mainstream, special or alternative provision.

The review emphasises the importance of inclusion and of school cultures “working for all children”. It also recommends more training for teachers to understand the underlying causes of poor behaviour including attachment, trauma and speech, language and communication needs. Implementing these recommendations would be a really positive step towards addressing poor behaviour while acknowledging the need to support teachers.

Nurture groups and programmes figure prominently in the review. A key recommendation advocates the setting up of a Practice Improvement Fund to support local authorities to work together to “establish effective systems to identify children in need of support and deliver good interventions for them.” The interventions this fund would support include the “effective use of nurture groups and programmes”.

The positive impact of nurture groups and interventions for children with difficulties was highlighted to the review team during the consultation period by schools, for example:

Landsdowne primary School in Kent said that:

“Overall, since the first year the Nurture group began we have reduced exclusions in our school by 84%....Our significant reduction in exclusions has been down to the impact Nurture provision has had in our school, and a large part of this impact has also been down to developing a whole staff understanding of SEMH needs, attachment and the 6 Nurture Principles and establishing these as a whole school ethos.”

And Marsh Green Primary in Wigan have said that:

“We have run a Nurture Group for a number of years and this ethos has been extended across the whole school. In Summer 2017 we achieved the Nurturing Schools Award as a result of a thorough audit of our provision across school…We have seen a huge reduction in exclusions at our school, with just 1 day in the past academic year, compared with 4 days the previous year (2016-17), and 12.5 prior to that (2015-16).”

The Timpson Review concludes nurture groups “can be an effective approach in reducing children’s social, emotional and behavioural difficulties while strengthening their academic performance.”

It is a testament to the effectiveness of nurture interventions that they are featured so prominently within this report. Through promoting good mental health, building resilience and improving school attendance and attainment, nurture interventions can help ensure that every child has access to the education they deserve. We welcome the review’s recommendation that these interventions are supported by more funding in a model which allows schools to share best practice whilst also being tailored to local needs.

We welcome the Government’s positive response to the recommendations of the Timpson Review, including the closer working between schools, local authorities, alternative provision and other partners such as the police and health bodies. However, this issue is too important to suffer from lack of funding and we hope that the Government will consider putting a sufficient amount of funding into the Practice Improvement Fund to underpin this vital work.