Schools to get ‘Nurture’ groups

Two Ballymena primaries are among 16 schools in Northern Ireland to get ‘Nurture Groups’ at a cost of over £3million.

Among the 16 being established are groups in Camphill Primary School and St. Brigid’s Primary School in Ballymena.

The investment, announced by Education Minister Michelle McIlveen is part of the Fair Start Action Plan and work has already started.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said: “I am pleased to announce that we are bringing forward the expansion of Nurture Groups earlier than planned. This investment will help these schools to provide more support to children who are already facing significant challenges and who have social, behavioural, emotional and wellbeing needs. Nurturing is a key element in supporting our children to make the best start in life and help to improve their educational outcomes.

Minister Michelle McIlveen. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“I want to thank all staff involved in nurture within our education settings for their support to date and my officials look forward to working with them in the coming months to continue to deliver this important programme.”

A further existing 46 funded Nurture Groups will continue to be funded by the Department of Education.Subject to the business case process and necessary approvals, funding will be allocated to the Education Authority and relevant schools at the earliest opportunity.

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SDLP Councillor Eugene Reid has welcomed the establishment of 16 new nurture groups at schools across the North.

Cllr. Reid said: “Nurture groups were a key recommendation in the Fair Start Report and Action Plan and I’m glad we are finally starting to see some progress from Minister McIlveen and her department in implementing its recommendations after much dither and delay. Sixteen schools across the North will benefit from these new nurture units taking the total to 46 and I hope to see further announcements to benefit more schools in the near future.

“Addressing educational underachievement is one of the biggest challenges we currently face and the fair start report sets out a clear pathway for us to address the issues that stop thousands of children from making the most of their education and reaching their full potential. The support these units provide will make a huge difference to children with complex needs and their classmates and we know that early intervention can make a huge difference to addressing a child’s problems before it has a significant impact on their future.

“I will continue to press Minister McIlveen and her department until we see all the recommendations of the fair start report in place. Every child is entitled to the help and support they need to succeed and these units will make a real difference. I will keep raising this until schools across the North have the facilities they need to provide their pupils with the best possible experience.”