St Joseph’s Primary scoops Northern Ireland’s first National Nurturing School Award

Date published: 13 April 2018

A Belfast primary school has today been presented with a national nurture award for the entire school. This is the first time this accolade has been awarded in Northern Ireland.

St Joseph’s Primary School, Slate Street, picked up the prestigious prize for demonstrating exemplary practice in embedding a nurturing culture throughout the entire school.

Speaking at the Award Ceremony, Principal of St Josephs’ Primary School, Mairéad Weir said: “We are thrilled to be the first school in Northern Ireland to receive the ‘National Nurturing School Award’.  We have seen how a nurturing education is the great equalizer, helping children blossom and grow into the people they are meant to be.  It provides us all with the knowledge, skills and personal resources to overcome the everyday challenges in life.” 

The National Nurturing School Award is awarded to schools who successfully complete the National Nurturing Schools Programme, a two-year course to develop and embed a nurturing culture throughout the school.  St Joseph’s is the first school in Northern Ireland to complete the Programme and to receive the Award.

Chief Executive of the Nurture Group Network, Kevin Kibble, who presented the award, said: “We are delighted to award St Joseph’s Primary School with the first ever National Nurturing School Award in Northern Ireland. This award recognises the outstanding and inspirational work of their whole staff team in embedding nurturing principles throughout the school.

“The beneficiaries of their hard work every day are the children attending the school, their families and the wider community. Our standards to achieve this award are exacting and many congratulations are due to the staff, pupils and everyone associated with the school.” 

The Department of Education currently funds 31 nurture groups in primary schools across Northern Ireland.

Deputy Secretary for the Department of Education, Tommy O’Reilly said: “This is a tremendous accolade for the staff of St Joseph’s primary school. It demonstrates the excellent nurture provision within the school and its commitment to the care and support of all its pupils."

The Department recognises the effectiveness of nurture provision and its importance in helping children in nurture groups unlock their full potential.


Notes to editors: 

1. The Nurture Group Network (NGN) is a charity that aims to break cycles of low achievement and tackle social exclusion by ensuring that an unequal start in life does not mean an unequal chance to engage with learning.  NGN works to ensure that every disadvantaged or disengaged child has access to a nurturing intervention to equip them with the skills and resilience they need to make the most of learning and school.  NGN does this by supporting the development of nurturing interventions in schools through training, resources and support; making the case for nurture in schools with policymakers and politicians; and has an ongoing out research and evaluation programme to monitor evidence of outcomes.  

2. The Nurturing Schools Programme: A nurturing school is a place where pupils benefit from the approach that supports them in their specific needs while delivering teaching and learning in a way that all can access. The pupil is at the heart of the school focus and their learning is understood developmentally.

Parents benefit by being involved and welcomed in the school, in seeing the improvement in the children’s learning, behaviour, confidence and attendance. A better outcome for their children both in and out of the school and classroom.

Teachers benefit from having an opportunity to focus on their pupil and a culture change where every voice counts. A more balanced measure of outcomes for individual pupil ensues.

Schools benefit from showing their commitment to developing an ethos and culture that is inclusive, supports everyone in and associated with the school.

Communities benefit from having a school that wants to be at the heart of the community and demonstrates its central role in children and young people’s lives.

3. Follow us on Twitter @education_NI

4. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 0762 397 4383 and your call will be returned.

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