Inverclyde nursery receives wellbeing award

An Inverclyde pre-school is the one of the first in Scotland to be awarded ‘SEL Worldwide Model Pre-School’ status, which has come about after they successfully integrated the ‘PATHS® Programme for Schools (UK Version)’ within everyday life.

This social and emotional learning (SEL) programme supports children from a young age to raise awareness of their feelings and helps them to develop self-regulation skills, and, earlier this month, St John’s Nursery was the latest recipient of the award.

This prestigious SEL Award is awarded by leading children’s charity Barnardo’s in recognition of the outstanding commitment to fostering emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and overall wellbeing amongst school children.

Delivery of the programme is supported by specialist coaches from Barnardo’s. Activities are designed to help children’s development in learning to regulate their emotions, boost self-esteem, increase their emotional awareness and teach them problem-solving skills. This includes within relationships and friendships, with the aim of improving the mental health of nursery and primary school pupils.

Barnardo’s has now supported 13 pre-schools and one school in Inverclyde since 2021. Staff and pupils from St John’s Nursery were presented with their awards by Katrina McGovern, Programme Co-ordinator from Barnardo’s, who has been working closely with the nursery to support staff to embed the programme into everyday learning and star guest, Twiggle the Turtle.

Donna Buirds, Depute Head of Establishment at St John’s Nursery Class, said: “We are delighted to be presented with this award and to be recognised as a PATHS Model pre-school for the great work that has been happening over the last two years in St John’s Nursery around social and emotional learning. It feels even more special as we are the first nursery in Scotland to be recognised in this way.

St John's Nursery staff
St John's Nursery staff with their award

“Our staff have worked really hard to integrate the programme into our play environment and to embed the objectives into our daily interactions with the children. This has had a positive impact our children’s social skills and their ability to recognise and manage their emotions. We have also had positive feedback from our families and parents.

“PATHS uses a range of age-appropriate play experiences, such as puppets and stories, to encourage children to understand their emotions, to give and receive compliments and it also teaches some problem-solving techniques. This has helped to increase our children’s confidence and self-esteem.

“I would like to thank Inverclyde Council and Barnardo’s as without their assistance we would not have been able to achieve this award. And an extra special thank you goes to the amazing staff team in the nursery – they really are a cut above the rest!”

Hazel Russell, Children Services Manager at Barnardo’s, said: “To be an SEL Worldwide Model Pre-School using the PATHS® Programme requires more than to have practitioners doing a high-quality job of delivering sessions in their setting.

“This nursery has worked to create deeper transformation nurturing whole-setting systems change that has included embodying SEL skills in the nursery’s leadership, using SEL practices throughout the setting, creating a culture in which staff and children feel valued and nurtured, creating positive expectations that children and staff will utilise SEL skills throughout the day, with peers and adults, and communicating with parents and supporting the ability to use SEL skills at home.

“We are extremely proud of the way this setting has taken the PATHS® Programme and made it part of the fabric of their setting. We’re delighted to work with SEL Worldwide to recognise this achievement.”

Convener of Education and Communities, Councillor Jim Clocherty, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for everyone at St John’s Nursery and I commend them for their hard work in winning this award.

“Staff in all our early years settings work hard every day to give our children the best start in life. Helping them to know and understand their emotions is an important part of this. St John’s is leading the way in Inverclyde, and in Scotland, by becoming the first nursery to achieve this award and we are sure it will lead to many more across Inverclyde following suit.”

Inverclyde’s Young People’s Champion, Councillor Kirsty Law said: “Helping young children express themselves and understand their emotions is an important factor in their wellbeing. Learning about their feelings and helping the children self-regulate from a young age can only be a good thing for their future development. I am very proud that St John’s is the first nursery in Scotland to receive this prestigious award and I would like to congratulate everyone involved for this achievement.”

In the past year, Barnardo’s in Scotland provided essential support to more than 11,500 children, young people, parents and carers through more than 150 specialised community-based services and partnerships across the country. The charity works to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life.