Last Updated: Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Developing whole school nurturing approaches

What is this?

Local Authorities are increasingly promoting whole school Nurturing Approaches as a means of supporting both Health and Wellbeing and attainment. A whole school Nurturing Approach is a helpful framework for schools to enhance their knowledge and understanding of how all children and young people develop and learn whilst focusing on those who need specific targeted support.

Education Scotland have developed professional learning materials to support this approach in both the primary and secondary sector. These resources are designed to support schools overall understanding of a Nurturing Approach and Nurture Principles whilst exploring the implementation of such an approach. The materials also support schools who have already embarked on a Nurturing Approach to use self-evaluation to determine the impact of such an approach.

Some examples of Local Authorities who have developed a whole school Nurturing Approach across the authority are included below.

Who is this for?

This will be of interest to local education staff, school managers and practitioners.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

This exemplar is designed to support practitioners to consider how they might develop a whole school Nurturing Approach in their own context, with a focus on closing the equity gap. Practitioners and managers should take account of their own context and establish whether a whole school Nurturing Approach meets the needs of their school and whether they are ready to undertake such an approach. Schools staff should also consider how they might be supported by their Local Authority in taking this approach forward.

This exemplar is also intended to raise school awareness of the potential impact of a Nurturing Approach and may support schools to embark on training, coaching or self‑evaluation of their Nurturing Approach. Schools who already have a Nurture Group may also consider how they will begin to implement the key components of a Nurture Group approach at the whole school level, e.g. by focusing on individual Nurturing Principles with individual departments or by embarking on attachment and brain development training for whole staff groups.

The attached Implementation Guide also provides further detail on what is included in the whole school Nurturing Approach training. This training might be facilitated at individual school, Local Authority or national level. It also provides practical tools for schools and local authorities to help them to determine how they can best support this approach.

This exemplar also provides some brief examples of how two local authorities have supported implementation of whole school Nurturing Approaches and this can be used to guide practice in other local authorities.

Improvement questions

  • What does school data and stakeholder consultation tell you about the needs within your context and would a Nurturing Approach be suited to supporting these needs?
  • Does your school or Local Authority have the capacity to deliver training/coaching or support for self‑evaluation around Nurturing Approaches?
  • To what extent is your school or Local Authority ready to fully embrace and implement a whole school Nurturing Approach?


Word document: Primary Nurturing Approaches - Pre-course and Implementation (1.1 MB)

What was done?

Education Scotland have developed a 4 day professional learning resource that focuses on both universal and targeted support through a whole school Nurturing Approach. Training was delivered at a Local Authority and national level for Secondary Nurturing Approaches. A pilot for the Primary Nurturing Approaches has also been delivered to local authority and school representatives.

A number of Local Authorities across Scotland including Inverclyde and Renfrewshire have developed their own models based on these materials but adapted to their own context.


While local authorities have previously developed their own training around Nurturing Approaches and have been supported by other external training providers such as the Nurture Group Network, this is the first attempt to develop a national resource that can be used to support an understanding of a Nurturing Approach along with a consistent approach to implementing it.

What was the impact?

A number of local authorities are seeing an impact from applying a whole school nurturing approach in their schools.

Renfrewshire Council have developed an Authority wide Nurture Strategy that identifies pathfinder schools to take forward Nurturing Approaches based on a readiness assessment. The model is based on Implementation Science and each school has been encouraged to develop a core implementation team. Training and coaching have been developed by Renfrewshire Psychological Service based on the Education Scotland materials. Schools focus on the Nurturing Principles that are most pertinent to their needs in the first instance.

Inverclyde Council have also undertaken an authority wide approach that supports schools in undertaking a whole school Nurturing Approach alongside a model of targeted Nurture Group support. They have promoted self-evaluation of this approach and have seen an impact on schools who have developed Nurturing Practice across the school, e.g. developing Nurturing playgrounds.