Editor's comment

5th February 2010 at 00:00

It is easy, with all the sound and fury surrounding teaching and learning, to forget that there is another world out there. Our coverage this week of Glasgow's plans for more nurture groups illustrates only too depressingly that it can be a frightening and frightful world (p4). As the city council's Sue Reynolds observed, education used to be a way out of the poverty trap for many families: now they are simply trapped in poverty, and many communities have families who exist in name only.

Even if Glasgow councillors have thrown their weight behind nurture groups to expose the class-size policy of what they choose to call "Edinburgh ministers", that does not make them bad people. Whatever the motivation, the policy deserves time - and resources - to succeed. Education may no longer provide an escape route from poverty, but schools are most certainly a refuge for many children and nurture groups provide the key ingredient of "resilience" to help them cope with dreadful circumstances. It is important to remember, however, that this should not be regarded as a marginal initiative for people on the margins: pupils whose families are hit by bereavement or trauma of any kind should also benefit.

Of course, there are question marks. Nurture groups are relatively new kids on the block, and the full impact of how well they nurture will have to await the outcome of longitudinal research. It is also pertinent to ask whether such groups can operate effectively in environments where schools are not nurturing places. The principles of nurture should not be confined to the sidelines: while schools exist to promote learning, for staff as well as pupils, they cannot do that unless relationships on both sides are "nurtured".

Neil Munro, editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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