UCD Associate Professor Seaneen Sloan Delivers Workshop at the Nurture Group Network Northern Ireland Conference 

Nurture groups seek to provide support to those children in the first years of primary school who have behavioural needs and are already facing difficulties with adjusting to the demands of the school day.

Findings from this evaluation were launched in September at Queen’s University Belfast (where the evaluation was conducted), and were welcomed by the NI Minister for Education. Further, on 15th November, the findings of the report were debated extensively by the Northern Ireland Assembly, and received wide-spread support from across political parties.

Lord Morrow, who proposed a motion on the report, said: “I commend the staff of Queen's University for producing such an excellent report on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of nurture group provision in Northern Ireland. It would be difficult not to recommend funding for the implementation of nurture groups when one reads the report in detail and takes account of the views of those involved in the study.”

The motion that was agreed by the Assembly stated:

“That this Assembly welcomes the report by the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen’s University Belfast, entitled 'The Impact and Cost Effectiveness of Nurture Groups in Primary Schools in Northern Ireland'; welcomes the commitment of the Minister of Education to continuing to fund the 32 nurture units across Northern Ireland; and, as recommended in the report by Queen’s University, calls on the Minister of Education to ensure that a sustainable funding model is put in place for the longer-term viability of nurture group provision, to plan the further expansion of nurture provision in each primary school sector targeted in the areas of greatest need, to develop appropriate training for staff and to conduct research into models for the delivery of nurture provision.”

The text of the full debate is available on Hansard (pp. 17-27 & 55-61) at: http://data.niassembly.gov.uk/HansardXml/plenary-15-11-2016.pdf

For further information on the report, please contact Dr Seaneen Sloan Principal Investigator for this study.