£3m invested in school 'nurture units'

Published Thursday, 20 February 2014
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A £3m investment to create 20 new nurture units at primary schools across Northern Ireland has been announced by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland and Education Minister John O'Dowd.

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The Nurture Unit Signature Project which is part of the Northern Ireland Executive's Delivering Social Change programme has invested the funding across 20 primary schools.

The latest investment brings the number of specialist facilities in the region to 30.

Nurture Units are a valuable resource which aim to support the social, emotional and behavioural development of our young children and provide an opportunity to challenge some of the barriers that contribute to low educational attainment.

They have been used widely across the UK to address identified behavioural needs within schools and aim to offer a safe and welcoming environment to promote learning and positive behaviours.

The ministers visited Currie Primary School in Belfast on Thursday to see how the the Sunshine Room has improved school life for pupils.

Announcing the multi-million investment, DUP Minister McCausland said: "Investing in our children from an early stage in their young lives is paramount if, we, as a community, are to provide the necessary support and environment to enable them to thrive and develop.

"I have visited a number of piloted nurture units in the past so, to announce £3m of funding today giving financial support to a further 20 units is testament to the hard work and dedication of the teachers and staff who have worked tirelessly and made these nurture units a success.

"I have seen at firsthand how the personal time spent with our most vulnerable and young children in these units can not only have an impact on the social development of some of the children but can also have beneficial impact on their parents."

Sinn Féin Minister O'Dowd added: "I welcome the opportunity to officially launch the new nurture units and meet some of the children and staff who are involved in this exciting new project.

"All our schools have a responsibility for the emotional health and wellbeing of our children - to help build self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities, and to build levels of resilience that will help them cope with situations they may find difficult, not just in school but in later life.

"Nurture units can play a key role in tackling under-achievement early in a child's life by providing targeted support to where it is most needed. The units will bridge the gap between home and school and will play a key role in my longer term aim of closing the gap in educational attainment evident in our system."

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