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Ten schools to benefit from £1.1million investment

14 February, 2013 - by John O'Dowd

Nurture unit provision at ten local schools will continue following a £1.1million investment announced today by Education Minister John O’Dowd.

Nurture units cater for small groups of children in the school environment and help address barriers to learning arising from social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

This investment is in addition to the funding for 20 new units as part of the Delivering Social Change Signature Project announced by the First Minister and deputy First Minister in October.Speaking of the significance of this investment, Mr O’Dowd said: “Nurture units provide short-term, focussed interventions to children who are facing barriers to learning. Small groups of children who would benefit from this intensive support can avail of it within the school premises, while continuing to remain part of their class group. Children will generally return to their classes full time within three terms.

“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. This investment, along with the Signature Project, will ensure existing nurture unit provision is supported and will see a total of 30 nurture units operating at local schools in the coming years.”

The funding will ensure that all 30 units will be funded until at least the 2014-15 school year.

The ten schools that will benefit from today’s investment are:

-Ballysally Primary School, Coleraine

-Good Shepherd Primary School, Poleglass

-Holy Family Primary School, Derry

-Kilcooley Primary School, Bangor

-Rathcoole Primary School, Newtownabbey

-St Brigid’s Primary School, Derry

-St Colmcille’s Primary School, Downpatrick

-St Kieran’s Primary School, Poleglass

-St Luke’s Primary School, Belfast

-Tullycarnet Primary School, Dundonald

The schools, which all have existing nurture units that require financial support to continue their work, were identified using the same criteria used to target funding for Extended Schools, with funding being directed to those nurture units based in schools with the greatest level of need. Work is ongoing with the Department for Social Development (DSD) to identify the 20 schools that will be funded under the Delivering Social Change initiative announced by the First Minister and deputy First Minister in October, with these units due to open in September of this year.

The Minister continued: “Trained staff in these units will select the children who would benefit most from this support and will develop individual learning plans agreed with teachers and parents. 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.

“Given the pressures on the education budget, I have targeted these resources to areas of greatest social need. This funding will not only ensure children continue to benefit from the intervention, it will also ensure that the experience gained by these schools can contribute to the development of the Signature Project and can help shape future policy in this area.”

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