Early Nurture Service launched to support social, emotional and mental health needs in children

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The number of children being identified has having complex special educational needs (SEN) or significant mental health concerns across Bath and North East Somerset is increasing year on year. A particularly sharp increase has been seen since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Of children referred for Early Years special educational needs (SEN) funding, 37% are primarily referred due to social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

To help tackle this growing issue, St John’s have launched in partnership with Brighter Futures a new Early Nurture Service supporting children in nursery and pre-school settings.

The new service will provide a greater depth of early-intervention support for children’s SEMH than is currently available. By introducing the Early Nurture Service, the aim is to build capacity within schools and nurseries, addressing growing pressure on educational settings.

The project will prioritise six settings across BaNES in areas of high deprivation and will be delivered in the 22/23 and 23/24 academic years.

The service will provide the means for earlier identification and better support for vulnerable children, more accurate SEMH assessments and continued support for children transitioning into primary school.

Head of Delivery and Impact Sam Gillett shares his thoughts:

‘Nurseries, pre-schools, and schools are extremely stretched, with many reporting more complex mental health needs of young children. This programme aims to increase the support available for settings to meet these needs and to increase their skills and ability to provide the most appropriate support. Brighter Futures have a proven track record in this area, and we are excited to increase their capacity to do more’.

Ed Harker, Brighter Futures comments further:

‘We are thrilled to work again alongside St John’s and extend our existing services into the Early Years sector. Early identification of complex mental health needs, and the subsequent provision of support for both children and staff means that children have a much better chance of transitioning well into school and going on to succeed in their first steps in formal education. The Early Nurture Service dovetails with work already in place in school settings supported by the St Johns Foundation, to provide a streamlined educational support package for high need, vulnerable children’.

At St John’s Foundation, our ambition is to significantly reduce the key stage 2 educational attainment gap across BaNES by 2029. We plan on achieving this through a variety of supportive measures designed specifically for our Foundation Fund. When addressing behavioural and emotional needs, the fund relies on strong partnership with our delivery partners to ensure the correct implementation of our strategies.