By Sandra Irwin-Gowran (national office staff)
The Educate Together Nurture Project began in October 2020 and now has 35 schools (27 primary and 8 post-primary schools) participating. There is a huge appetite for this approach across the network and unfortunately, we are at capacity in terms of the number of schools that the project can work with. In time we hope that the professional communities of practice being formed between schools in the project will expand to include other schools to sustain the approach beyond the lifetime of the project.
The Nurture approach is not new, or unique to Educate Together. What’s innovative is the application of the approach across a network of like-minded school communities and the desire to demonstrate that impact through an evidence-based approach. We hope to build a persuasive case for the Nurture approach to be supported as a preventative measure in the context of disengagement from school and educational disadvantage. The evidence coming from participating schools is telling us that this is happening which is very encouraging.
Each participating school is at a different stage. Some schools, for example, don’t have space (given their developing and temporary accommodation status) for a Nurture room. Many are finding ways of being creative with what they have. Ideas are shared during online meetings of the communities of practice. Currently there are 24 nurture rooms established and operational and approximately 200 students receiving the Nurture group intervention, with countless others benefiting from the training their class teachers are receiving. As the project develops these numbers will grow, this is just the beginning.
Last October Maynooth University hosted an event focused on trauma-informed practice in Education settings, called “Where the Light Enters” As part of the comprehensive programme, a space was given to feature initiatives which are currently being implemented in schools around the country. Bremore ETSS, participant in Educate Together’s Nurture Project featured in this space as an example of good practice in this area. Input from Bremore ETSS.
Under the Nurture Project Educate Together has developed an online module on Trauma Informed Practice in Teaching. The module is currently being made available to schools in the Nurture Project and will be extended to all Educate Together schools in 2022/23.