Children and young people are dealing with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) issues like never before. In the UK, the need for better support was widely recognised even before the outbreak of Covid-19, but the crisis has deepened. Current cost of living pressures, compounded by the continuing repercussions of the pandemic, mean increased stress and anxiety for many children and families.
Pupils facing SEMH challenges can be withdrawn and isolated, suffering in silence, others display hugely challenging and disruptive behaviour that significantly affects those around them. All are in desperate need of nurture – a different approach to learning that prioritises relationships and wellbeing.
Research has shown that a nurturing approach to education works for all pupils, helping every child to learn. Nurture provides structure and care experiences that may have been missing from a child’s early life. It gets to the heart of a child’s challenges and supports them to build connections and resilience. It is a highly effective way of supporting improved behaviour and increased attendance in schools, leading to better attainment.
We know that teachers, who are under huge pressures themselves, 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.
Embedding a nurturing culture and ethos throughout a school ensures that the SEMH needs of all children are identified and supported – not just those of the pupils who are visibly struggling. This whole-school approach can enhance teaching and learning and benefit the wellbeing of staff as well as pupils.
Our National Nurturing Schools Programme (NNSP) helps educators develop and apply a whole-school approach. It focuses on pupils’ emotional needs and development alongside their academic learning. Participants are guided by experts with extensive knowledge of nurture and the ways it can best be implemented in different settings.
We’ve been championing nurture for more than 50 years, and we know it works. We are urging schools and teachers to use nurture to support their pupils at this time of intense challenge. Nurture gives children the foundation they need to navigate school and life. It allows all children and young people to be ready and able to learn.