Supporting Nurturing Approaches and Inclusion

Education and children’s Services are promoting the development of nurturing approaches within Aberdeenshire schools.  Some educational psychologists have taken part in Nurture Network training along with teachers and pupil support assistants.

The aim is to support all schools to develop nurturing approaches by:

  • Embedding the core principles of nurture within all mainstream classrooms
  • The Educational Psychology Service provide consultation as required.
  • Some networks have nurture specialists who can offer support.

Nurturing approaches

The formation of strong attachments to care givers is predictive of healthy relationships and essential for optimum health and wellbeing.  Difficulties with attachment may be due to a variety of reasons, but if left without intervention can present children and young people with lifelong barriers to learning and development affecting how they communicate with and relate to other people.

Nurturing approaches are beneficial as targeted intervention for pupils who may have attachment difficulties and others who may have a wide array of barriers to their learning.  In the 2016 Scottish Government report on the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning Act there is a recommendation for schools to establish a nurturing ethos and culture ensuring all young people including those with mental health difficulties feel valued and engage with their learning.

Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places duties on the authority to assess children’s wellbeing and provide a plan on how to meet children with an identified wellbeing need.  The Curriculum for Excellence and “Better Relationships, Better Learning, Better Behaviour”, are policy drivers that promote relationships and wellbeing as a function of education, as well as other children’s services.

There are 3 areas that Education and Children’s Services target for intervention:

  • Nurture Groups – solution oriented individual or group work, counselling, psycho-educational intervention, therapy, Seasons for Growth group work.
  • Parenting programmes, Family Support Work, Intensive Family Support, Family Networking
  • Nurture School Approaches including Restorative Approaches

Nurture approach

The Nurture Whole School approach involved ethos and culture as well as practice development.  The key features of nurturing schools are highly correlated with key features of effective schools.  Practice development focuses on attachment informed education, assessment and intervention.  Resources such as the Nurture Toolkit help schools to self-evaluate and improve practice.  The Nurture approach is not simply about improving the social and emotional development of children but belief that through better emotional regulation, the child improves his or her cognitive functioning and ability to learn.

Principles of Nurture

The following are from the Nurture Group Network:


  1. Children’s learning is understood developmentally
  2. The classroom offers a safe base
  3. The importance of nurture for the development of self-esteem
  4. Language is a vital means of communication
  5. All behaviour is communication
  6. The importance of transition in children’s lives

Nurture Groups

Nurture Groups were developed in the1960s by Marjorie Boxall. Children with attachment difficulties do not benefit from education as much as peers with secure attachment to their care givers, therefore an intervention approach was devised to improve the social and emotional development of these children, which in turn improves their cognitive functioning and learning.

Further information

Information and resources are available on the Nurture Group Network

Scottish Government: The Scottish Attainment Challenge: Social and Emotional Learning

Primary Nurturing Approaches

Notes on Nurture from an Aberdeenshire Event with Helen Stollery