Assembly Committee Takes a Closer Look at Nurture Groups

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 10 June 2012

Reference: EDU 08/09/10

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Education is today taking a closer look at Nurture Groups [i] in Northern Ireland. These groups were set up to support children experiencing difficulties when starting primary school or when moving to secondary school.

In three separate visits to Nurture Groups, Committee Members will experience for themselves the Nurture Group environment which becomes both home and school for children with a wide range of developmental needs.

Committee Chairperson Mervyn Storey, MLA said: “I visited the nurture group at Ballysally Primary School some time ago and was very impressed with what I saw.

“When the Nurture Group Network gave a presentation to the Committee earlier this year it highlighted the benefits nurture groups can bring to children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and how theyimprove outcomes for children previously at risk of suspension from school. The Committee also heard that a university study had found that nurture groups are extremely successful and that improvements occur relatively quickly, typically in two terms.

“The Committee is concerned about the immediate, as well as the medium to longer term, funding for Nurture Groups. If they are to be around to help vulnerable children in the future, they need to be funded now. We hope that our visits today, to the Nurture Groups at Holy Family, Ballysally and St Dallan’s Primary Schools, will encourage these, and other, Nurture Groups to persevere in their good work despite the uncertainty they face regarding future funding.”

As well as opportunities to see the work carried out by Nurture Groups, the Committee will meet with some of the parents of the children, the three School Principals and teaching staff together with members from the Boards of Governors to hear their hopes for the future development of Nurture Groups throughout Northern Ireland.

The Committee has written to the Department of Education in support of Nurture Groups’ efforts to secure future funding. The Committee’s letter highlighted that the Department’s own consultation proposals for Special Educational Needs and Inclusion suggest a future role for Nurture Groups in primary schools.

ENDS

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