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What was done?
Renfrewshire Educational Psychology Service, in partnership with their PT Nurturing Attainment Teachers and local authority managers, have developed an approach entitled Renfrewshire’s Nurturing Relationships Approach (RNRA). It is focused on the development of whole school nurturing approaches to support the wider needs of school communities. The approach was based in the first instance on Education Scotland’s four-day training in nurturing approaches but has since been adapted to more specifically fit the context of Renfrewshire (see accompanying overview below).
Staff from Our Lady of Peace also discuss their rationale for implementing RNRA and provide some examples of how they have taken forward whole staff training, engaged with parents, and developed practical examples of implementing the Nurture Principle ‘Language is a vital means of communication'. A complimentary strand of RNRA has been increasing knowledge about, and understanding of how best to support, children and young people who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
The following video explores how Renfrewshire’s Psychological Service have supported schools to implement Renfrewshire’s Nurturing Relationships Approach (RNRA) using an implementation science framework. Can't see this video? You can also watch it on Glow (log in required).
Renfrewshire was included as a challenge authority in the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2017 and has high levels of deprivation, with SIMD Deciles 1 and 3 being higher than the national average. Renfrewshire Educational Psychology Service also recognised that there was a need to develop a more systemic way for the service to work in partnership with schools to develop more inclusive approaches to support children and young people displaying distressed behaviour.
Our Lady of Peace Primary School had also identified that they had an increasing number of children and young people who required support beyond the targeted nurture group and were keen to develop a whole school nurturing approach as part of Renfrewshire’s Nurturing Relationships Approach. They also recognised that a nurturing approach, with it’s focus on developing positive relationships and moving away from a traditional, punitive approach, was an effective way of meeting the needs of children who had experienced early adversity and trauma.
What was the impact?
The impact of RNRA was evaluated through:
- Training evaluations;
- Individual schools evaluating the impact of changes to their practice;
- An Authority Evaluation including use of Parent, Teacher and Pupil Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ), the Stirling Children’s Wellbeing Questionnaire and Focus Groups of teachers, pupils and parents.
Staff evaluation data demonstrates that, across all the Pathfinder schools implementing RNRA, there has been an increased knowledge and understanding of attachment theory, the Nurture Principles and the importance of nurturing relationships across the school. Staff also report a positive change in their practice due to this new learning. Interim evaluation findings suggest social, emotional and behavioural gains for pupils.
Our Lady of Peace found improvements in social and emotional wellbeing scores. In particular they found that 93% of children demonstrated an improvement in social and emotional wellbeing in the targeted nurture group and an increase in the number of Boxall targets achieved by children in the Sunshine Group with each RNRA intervention. Other pathfinder schools have reflected on their ‘behaviour’ policies and behaviour management systems to reflect a more nurturing approach across the school.
The following video explores how Renfrewshire’s Psychological Service have supported schools and the local authority to evaluate the impact of Renfrewshire’s Nurturing Relationships Approach (RNRA). Can't see this video? You can also watch it on Glow (log in required).
The following video explores how Our Lady of Peace Primary in Renfrewshire have developed their whole school nurturing approach to support the needs of children and young people in their school. Can't see this video? You can also watch it on Glow (log in required).
The following video explores how Our Lady of Peace Primary in Renfrewshire have used their whole school nurturing approach to support transition of children into Primary 1 by working alongside parents. Can't see this video? You can also watch it on Glow (log in required).
The following video explores how Our Lady of Peace Primary in Renfrewshire have embedded the nurturing principles throughout the school and supported children with the regulation of their emotions. Can't see this video? You can also watch it on Glow (log in required).
How to use this exemplar to improve practice
This exemplar provides useful video clips and documents to highlight the process that a local authority have undertaken to implement and embed nurturing approaches in their context. It has taken into account implementation science which guides those implementing this approach in the steps that are helpful to undertake a large scale project of this kind, taking into account the need to build in evaluation of impact from the outset.
Any local authorities who want to embed such an approach might find an overview of implementation science and improvement methodology helpful in guiding their approach. It might also be helpful to take account of Education Scotland’s nurturing approaches professional learning materials and the 'Applying Nurture as a Whole School Approach' framework to support the implementation of this approach (see the links below and the Implementation framework which is included). Local authority staff should also take into account their own context, for example what practices have already been established, to ensure that they implement the approach in a manner which suits their context.
Schools who want to implement this approach might find it helpful to work in partnership with their Psychological Service and Nurture leads to provide coaching and support for taking the approach forward, particularly with regard to evaluating impact. It would also be helpful for a school to look at how they target a specific aspect of the approach to ensure that they have a focus, for example exploring how a specific Nurture Principle might meet the needs of the school best. It would also be helpful to link this approach to the current focus on ACEs awareness and trauma informed practice.
- What are the specific needs of the local authority and schools within it and how can they be best met with a nurturing approach?
- How can a nurturing approach be implemented and embedded in a way that ensures long term impact?
- What structures and supports can be put into place to ensure that schools are supported to take forward nurturing approaches?
- What evaluation measures can be used to measure impact on children and young people, particularly those who have experienced adversity and trauma?
- How can improvement methodology be used effectively to ensure that any practical strategies which are implemented in the school context are effective?