Nurture, Recovery & Reconnection in Schools

The Importance of Relationships

We know that good teaching and learning begin with positive relationships. Relationships fulfil our most fundamental needs as humans – social connectedness. A nurturing approach recognises that positive relationships are central to both learning and wellbeing.

Nurturing approaches are underpinned by an understanding of attachment theory, which recognises the importance of early relational experiences in shaping children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.

Pedagogy Sails

In East Lothian we have Pedagogy Sails - these are placemats with statements outlining our shared expectations for learning and teaching. These are aligned with our East Lothian Values of:

  • Enabling - Learning

  • Leading - Leadership

  • Caring -Relationships

Relationships Sail

The Relationships Sail supports the application of the 6 Nurture Principles during the COVID 19 pandemic and going forward as everyone returns to in-school learning.

The relationship sail outlines the importance of Nurture, Wellbeing and Inclusion and highlights the following expectations for practice in East Lothian. The statements on Nurture are as follows:

Positive relationships and a nurturing approach are at the heart of our core values, vision and ethos. They are the hallmark of engagement within our communities and crucial for learning and wellbeing.

• We recognise the importance of early relationships.

• We believe that everyone should be valued, respected and heard.

• We model and promote positive relationships through a balance of care and challenge, with a focus on achievement and attainment.

• It is the responsibility of all to understand and develop nurturing and restorative approaches.

• We use nurture and restorative approaches to build and maintain positive relationships and repair harm

Please see below for the complete Relationship Sail placemat, including the statements on Wellbeing and Inclusion.

The Learning And Leaderships sails are also shared below.


Learning Sail


Leadership Sail

Professional Learning

These shared expectations and aspirations form the basis of our professional learning. Across the authority we will maintain a sustained focus on Nurture and how it informs the ethos and culture in our schools, as outlined in the East Lothian Service Improvement Plan 2020 - 2021.

There is a programme of 9 Nurture learnPro modules to support practitioners in developing a strong understanding of the importance of establishing and embedding a nurturing approach in our schools. The available modules arew listed below and can be accessed using the following link and your ELC learnPro username and password East Lothian Council > Home (

Nurture learnPro Modules for Schools

Recovering & Reconnecting through the 6 Nurture Principles

The very best way to support children and young people during this time will be through nurturing relationships with key adults. The six nurture principles are a helpful way to consider the needs of all children during this period of intense uncertainty and change. Prioritising these principles and the guidance and activities underlying each will ensure children and young people will begin to recover and reconnect, not only with the staff in school but with each other.

Please visit the next page on this website to gain an overview of the 6 Nurture Principles. Each principle then has its own dedicated page with information and a related resources. We also have a Gallery page which highlights the good practice, creativity and enthusiasm for nurture here in East Lothian and a page for our Nurture Network. You will find links to all of these below:

Six Nurture Principles for Recovery

1. All learning is understood developmentally

2. The school offers a safe base

3. Nurture is important for wellbeing

4. Language is a vital means of communication

5. All behaviour is communication

6. Transitions are important

ELC Gallery

East Lothian Nurture Network

Putting Wellbeing & Mental Health First

Given that most of our children and young people have been at home for a significant period of time, they will be returning to school a little bit wary on many levels. For those who have been in school their experiences of school will be changing as other pupils return and the majority of the learning takes place within school again. Rebuilding familiar routines and rituals within the school and classroom will be essential.

During this period of recovery and reconnection it is critical that we put wellbeing and mental health to the fore. Aiming for a baseline state of stable and positive emotional wellbeing and mental health is a goal for all of our children and young people. This will in turn enable them to engage in those higher order cognitive tasks required for learning.

This is where we return again to nurture with an emphasis on emotional growth, focusing on offering broad-based experiences in an environment that promotes security, routines, clear boundaries and carefully planned, repetitive learning opportunities. The aim of nurture is to create the world of earliest childhood, build in the basic and essential social and emotional learning experiences normally gained in the first three years of life to enable learners and young people to fully meet their potential. Applying this principle at a whole school level will support the process of recovery and reconnection.

We have an excellent East Lothian Mental Health and Wellbeing website that provides information, advice and signposting to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. Mental Health and Wellbeing (

Everyone has a Role to Play

Nurture recognises that everyone who works with children and young people has a role to play in establishing the positive relationships that are required to promote healthy social and emotional development. When children and young people experience consistent safety, security and comfort from key adults, they develop the skills and desire to explore their environment and engage in learning opportunities. These relationships should be reliable, predictable and consistent wherever possible.

Further information can be found here:

Education Endowment Foundation

The Nurture Group Network

Anna Freud Centre

Beacon House