Educate Together Nurture Schools Project

Educate Together is delighted to embark on a new and exciting project engaging several of our schools to develop the Educate Together Nurture Schools Programme. The project, which involves both primary and second level schools is being made possible through a generous grant received from technology company Salesforce.

The concept of nurture in education recognises that students’ wellbeing is as important as their academic achievements. Schools applying a nurture approach address the social, emotional and learning needs of individual students by providing help to remove barriers to learning. There is a strong emphasis on emotional literacy, language development, relationships and communication. When the barriers to learning have been addressed and children feel connected to school life, then engagement in learning follows. The outcomes of such an approach can be transformative as evidenced by the story of 6th class student, Mary talking about her experience in Ennis Educate Together National School in the video below.

The Nurture Schools programme will provide targeted supports to students who are at risk of educational disadvantage, aimed at enhancing social, emotional and behavioural skills, attendance, engagement, resilience and self-belief.  The project is set against school closures resulting from the Covid 19 pandemic and the negative impact of closures on student engagement and increasing existing inequalities.

Over the coming months Educate Together will invite schools to enrol in the project and to identify key staff members who will lead in applying the nurture approach at a whole-school level.

To ensure the project is successful Educate Together is partnering with leaders in the Nurture approach, including trauma-informed care, and in the use of technology in education and distance learning. These partners are:

Nurturing Schools Ireland facilitators will work with participating schools to build knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of the nurture approach. Through these inputs, teachers will develop the skills and knowledge to adapt and enhance existing services and provisions to best meet their students’ needs.

To support teachers to implement this approach, an online training in Trauma Informed Care will be provided. This bespoke training, based on a model developed by Quality Matters and Dr. Sharon Lambert of University College Cork, will support teachers to understand trauma, its impact on thinking and behaviour, and what this means for children and teachers in a classroom setting

The combined Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme in this project will build the capacity of educators in nurture and trauma-informed approaches, while also incorporating restorative practice into their role. Increased knowledge and understanding will enable them to adopt the best possible methods of teaching children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, improving students’ social, emotional, and behavioural skills attendance, and beliefs about their learning ability.

Cognizant of public health restrictions that may continue to impact students’ ability to access full-time, face-to-face education during the lifetime of this project, we will equip teachers to support disadvantaged students to access education and nurture groups in either face-to-face or distance learning settings. To achieve this goal, Educate Together will partner with Camara Ireland who will support schools to develop their capacity to advance 21st Century teaching and learning practices, and equip them to embed blended learning approaches as standard.

The project will commence on the 1st October, 2020 and run until September 2022.