Investing in nurturing lives and communities using the Solihull Approach

North Lanarkshire is using the Solihull Approach to reach its aim “To ensure all early years multi-agency practitioners across North Lanarkshire Partnership will become effective staff who are knowledgeable and skilled in promoting secure attachment in families; resulting in all families being supported to develop positive relationships with their children”.

Solihull training is an essential element of multi-agency workforce development and is included in North Lanarkshire’s Parenting Support Pathway. It supports our understanding of Adverse Childhood Experiences and provides an early intervention framework to address childhood adversities and build resilience

The programme is recognised as innovative practice within Scotland, and underpins national and local guidance.

What is the Solihull Approach?

The Solihull Approach is a very practical way of working with families that has a robust theoretical structure and a strong evidence base. It focuses on emotional health and wellbeing, providing consistency for parents and families and highlights the importance of the relationship between parent and child. It consists of training for practitioners and ‘Understanding your Child’ courses for parents, and is being used by practitioners from a variety of services in the UK and worldwide

How does this look in practice?

Funded by North Lanarkshire Early Years Collaborative and the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the Approach is now being adopted as the universal approach across all services.  It is now included in both the Parenting Strategy and the Universal Parenting Pathway for both North and South Lanarkshire. 

The programme consists of multi-agency two day foundation training for practitioners with a range of resource packs including The Journey to Parenthood, The First Five Years, The School Years and Fostering and Adoption. The Understanding Your Child parenting programme is being delivered to parents across the partnership.

A ‘train the trainer’ element builds internal capacity to cascade the approach in North Lanarkshire Partnership.

What has the impact been?

2,336 practitioners have been trained; data shows that this has had a positive impact on practice with increased skills and confidence in supporting children and families. Case studies show a positive impact on children and families. This has improved multi-agency practice through a shared language and understanding. An annual multi-agency Nurture conference reinforces attachment focussed practice.

Parents who have taken the Understanding Your Child programme report an increased understanding of their children’s behaviour and can identify changes they want to make in their own behaviour. The programme has also been highly successful in prisons with dads reporting similar changes; this part of the programme won the Co-production QI Awards 2016.

The programme has also made a significant impact in schools with teachers developing more attuned responses to children who have experienced trauma. Pupils’ social, emotional and behavioural difficulties have reduced and their perception of the learning environment has also improved.

Feedback from parents and practitioners

  • I found Solihull very enjoyable and would recommend it to every parent. (Mum)
  • Instead of watching my son develop, I now develop with him. (Dad)
  • Thank you for such an informative course that WILL change my practice. (Practitioner)
  • Great course makes you think about your own life and practice as a professional. (Practitioner)

Next steps

Roll out and development of the programme is on going. The two day foundation course continues to be delivered across the North Lanarkshire partnership, along with improved practice support for each locality and on-going reports to share the impact of the programme. The number of trainers is also being increased to provide more courses and support practitioners to embed the Solihull Approach in practice across the Partnership.

The Understanding Your Child programme for parents is being offered across the Partnership and in more prisons across Scotland. North Lanarkshire Partnership is also planning to create a nurture pathway for schools, including supporting schools to evaluate their ‘readiness’ to participate and creating a structure of on-going support for schools to reflect on practice.

Where are we now?

The programme has evolved over four years with support from all services in North Lanarkshire Partnership. Improvement methodology, supported by Scottish Government, has played a part in shaping and developing the programme. Practitioners and leadership have a greater passion and understanding of the need for connection and the importance of secure relationship with the children and families they support and also with each other. The journey to invest in nurturing lives and communities in North Lanarkshire Partnership continues!