Invitation to Launch of Evaluation of Effectiveness of Nurture Groups in Northern Ireland

The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation is pleased to invite you to the launch of its evaluation of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Nurture Group provision in Northern Ireland.


Commissioned by the Department of Education, the evaluation involved 44 primary schools and has assessed whether the provision of Nurture Groups in primary schools have had a measurable impact on children’s social emotional and behavioural development and also their ability to learn.

The launch takes place on Thursday 22nd September between 9:30am and 1:00pm at Riddel Hall, 185 Stranmillis Road, Belfast. The launch will include a brief address by the Minister for Education. To reserve your place, please contact David Piekaar at or telephone: 028 9097 5956. Places are limited so please book your place early to avoid disappointment.

About Nurture Groups

Nurture Groups are widespread throughout the UK, with an estimated 1,500 currently in operation and registered with the Nurture Group Network. They represent a short-term and focused intervention to address barriers to learning arising from unmet attachment needs. They are a targeted programme, aimed at pupils who have difficulties coping in mainstream classes, who fail to engage in the learning process, and who may otherwise be at risk of underachievement, leading to Special Educational Needs support or the need for education outside of the school setting.

The classic model for Nurture Groups involve classes of about 10-12 children, typically in the first few years of primary school, and staffed by a teacher and teaching/classroom assistant. The aim of the Groups is to provide children with a carefully planned, safe environment in which to build an attachment relationship with a consistent and reliable adult. Children spend the majority of the school week in the Group, receiving highly structured and supported learning experiences, but where possible re-join their mainstream class for registration, assembly, break, lunch and home time. Pupils attend the Group for between two and four terms, after which the ultimate aim is that they can reintegrate into their mainstream class on a full-time basis.

In Northern Ireland, there are a number of established Nurture Groups that have been operating for many years, with some schools self-funding or accessing funds through the Department for Social Development (DSD) Neighbourhood Renewal Investment Fund. The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister announced funding for 20 new Nurture Groups in 2012, through the Delivering Social Change (DSC) Signature Projects. The Department for Education (DE) and DSD are delivering this project, and DE has invested further funds for the continued provision of 10 established Nurture Groups in schools in which funding was coming to an end.

More Information

For more information on Nurture Groups in the UK, please visit the Nurture Group Network website at:


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