What is the Nurture approach?
The nurture provision within Snapethorpe Primary School is an approach where a small group of children work part of the day with the support of a nurture team – in our case this is Miss Potocki, Miss Scott and Mrs Hargill. The children predominantly work within their class supported by staff but also sometimes work within our nurture room for focused targeted support and activities. A nurture group is a small group of 6 to 10 children / young people usually based in a mainstream educational setting and staffed by two supportive adults. The aim of a nurture group is to provide a predictable environment to allow children to build trusting relationships with adults and gain the skills they need in order to learn in larger classes. Nurture Groups offer a short term, focused, intervention strategy, which addresses barriers to learning arising from social / emotional and or behavioural difficulties, in an inclusive, supportive manner. Children continue to remain part of their own class group and usually return fully to class within 4 terms. Central to the philosophy is attachment theory; an area of psychology which explains the need for any person to be able to form secure and happy relationships with others in the formative years of their lives and our ongoing knowledge of neuroscience. The group aims to provide a supportive environment for children to access positive learning experiences.
Nurture Groups successfully addressing the barriers to learning, this results in both improved academic attainment and improved health and wellbeing. In Snapethorpe Primary School we offer nurturing approaches within all classrooms and in our nursery so that children are supported wherever they are learning.
What happens in Nurture?
We provide a carefully structured day with a balance of learning, teaching and routine within a home-like setting. We welcome parents and carers to join us for fun, games and a coffee too!
How will the Nurture help my child?
The approach will help to develop:
- Self-esteem and confidence
- A good feeling about school
- Language and number
- Sharing and taking turns
- Stronger links between their family and school
- Readiness for learning
Trained staff create an attractive, safe, structured environment, within the context of a mainstream educational setting, with a number of areas and resources designed to bridge the gap between home and school. Building trusting relationships are core to the approach. The children are carefully selected according to their individual holistic profile of needs, identified using the Boxall Profile whilst also ensuring the establishment of a cohesive nurture group. Individual and group plans are then formulated, with all targets thoroughly discussed with all involved including the pupils themselves. Staff then provide a variety of experiences, opportunities, approaches and resources to address these needs within a culture of trust, understanding and knowledge incorporating the 6 principles of nurture as undernoted, with progress closely monitored.
The six principles of Nurture Groups
- Children's learning is understood developmentally
In Nurture Groups, staff respond to children not in terms of arbitrary expectations about ‘attainment levels' but in terms of the children's developmental progress assessed through the Boxall Profile Handbook. The response to the individual child is ‘as they are', underpinned by a non-judgemental and accepting attitude.
- The classroom offers a safe base
The Nurture Group room offers a balance of educational and domestic experiences aimed at supporting the development of the children's relationship with each other and with the staff. The Nurture Group is organised around a structured day with predictable routines. Great attention is paid to detail; the adults are reliable and consistent in their approach to the children. Nurture Groups are an educational provision making the important link between emotional containment and cognitive learning.
- Nurture is important for the development of self-esteem
Nurture involves listening and responding. In a nurture group ‘everything is verbalised' with an emphasis on the adults engaging with the children in reciprocal shared activities e.g. play / meals / reading /talking about events and feelings. Children respond to being valued and thought about as individuals, so in practice this involves noticing and praising small achievements; ‘nothing is hurried in Nurture Groups‘.
- Language is understood as a vital means of communication
Language is more than a skill to be learnt, it is the way of putting feelings into words. Nurture group children often ‘act out' their feelings as they lack the vocabulary to ‘name' how they feel. In Nurture Groups the informal opportunities for talking and sharing, e.g. welcoming the children into the group or having breakfast together are as important as the more formal lessons teaching language skills. Words are used instead of actions to express feelings and opportunities are created for extended conversations or encouraging imaginative play to understand the feelings of others.
- All behaviour is communication
This principle underlies the adult response to the children's often challenging or difficult behaviour. ‘Given what I know about this child and their development what is this child trying to tell me?' Understanding what a child is communicating through behaviour helps staff to respond in a firm but non-punitive way by not being provoked or discouraged. If the child can sense that their feelings are understood this can help to diffuse difficult situations. The adult makes the link between the external / internal worlds of the child.
- Transitions are significant in the lives of children
The Nurture Group helps the child make the difficult transition from home to school. However, on a daily basis there are numerous transitions the child makes, e.g. between sessions and classes and between different adults. Changes in routine are invariably difficult for vulnerable children and need to be carefully managed with preparation and support.