Words and photo by Dave Barry
Scarborough’s Pupil-Referral Unit has become the only school in the country to win a national nurturing award.
The accolade is given to schools which demonstrate exemplary practice in embedding a nurturing culture, enhancing teaching and learning by focusing on emotional needs and development.
It was presented by Kevin Kibble, chief executive of Nurtureuk, a charity which aims to break cycles of low achievement and tackle social exclusion in children.
To qualify for the award, the school’s emotional literacy manager, Emma Allison, submitted 6,000 supporting documents.
She said: “Our children have displayed bad behaviour in mainstream schools and are often written off because people assume they are bad children.
“But they aren’t bad, they just don’t understand the way they feel. They are communicating their needs through their behaviour. People assume children should be fit for school when it is the other way round: the school should be fit for children”, Emma said.
“Nurture provides us with the capacity to fulfil the individual needs of the child”.
In January, the unit was rated ‘good with outstanding features’ by Ofsted, making it the town’s best secondary school. It is based in Westwood.
Head teacher Elaine Mallen said: “We are especially proud that we are the first school in North Yorkshire and the first pupil-referral unit in the country to have received the accreditation.
“When I was appointed in 2015, I was determined that our school would offer a broad curriculum and a variety of experiences in an environment that promotes security, routines, clear boundaries and carefully planned learning opportunities to ensure emotional growth and academic success.
“As a nurturing school, a key focus has been on the balance between care and challenge; incorporating warmth and connection alongside structure, high expectations and a focus on achievement and attainment. The aim is to enable our pupils to fully meet their potential in mainstream schools”.
The award presentation was attended by local MP Robert Goodwill, who described it as “an amazing achievement.
“It’s unusual for a pupil-referral unit to receive an award, because it’s often dealing with some of the most challenging children who have already been excluded from one or more mainstream schools”, Mr Goodwill said.
“The way this pupil-referral unit has turned around so many young people is absolutely to be applauded”.
Mr Kibble said the award recognised “the outstanding and inspirational work of the 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.
“We look forward to working with many more schools to help them to embed principles to support the emotional and behavioural needs of their pupils and to help more schools to achieve this prestigious award”.