Nurture Group

Welcome to our Nurture Group. Since September 2015 our Nurture Group has been held in the Woodland Room in the afternoons.

It is run by Mrs Grant and Miss Oag. Mrs Grant is a teacher, trained and qualified in ‘The Theory and Practice of Nurture Groups’ and Miss Oag is an experienced Teaching Assistant.

Nurture Group is a small class of six-ten pupils. Its composition is carefully well thought-out to create a balanced and functional group. The Nurture Group is part of the school’s Inclusion and PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) provision. Its purpose is to offer children opportunities to re-visit early learning skills and promote and support their social and emotional development. There is much research evidence that children’s learning is most effective when they have a sense of emotional well-being, good self-esteem and a feeling of belonging to their school community. The Nurture Room provides children with this opportunity and so helps to develop their maturity and resilience. The Nurture Room is a place of learning.

The philosophy of the Nurture Room is drawn from the principles established by the work of Marjorie Boxall and others, and exemplified by ‘The Nurture Group Network’.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which children attend Nurture Group?

Children may attend sessions in the Nurture Group for specific reasons, for example:

  • Friendship difficulties – keeping/making friends
  • Quiet, shy, withdrawn
  • Find it hard to listen to others or join in
  • Disruptive towards others
  • Find it hard to accept losing a game
  • Find it hard to share and take turns
  • Find it a bit difficult to settle into class
  • Bullying
  • Low self esteem
  • Poor relationships with adults in school
  • Bereavement
  • Family illness or break-up

How will Nurture Group help my child?

Nurture Group will boost confidence and self esteem and provide children with the extra help sometimes needed to improve social skills and independence for example:

  • To join in
  • To settle
  • To listen
  • To concentrate
  • To share and take turns
  • To accept losing a game
  • To build up friendships with their classmates
  • It gives them a chance and helps to encourage a more positive profile among their peers and members of staff.

Does this mean my child is naughty?

No, these sessions are meant to help them manage situations and increase their skills to become more successful learners.

How long will my child be in Nurture Group for?

Children attend on a part-time basis for a period of 2-4 terms. However we ensure that the children do not miss special assemblies, guests in school, outings or anything else that may be different from the normal routine of the week.

Are parents/carers involved?

We like to consider our door is always open and therefore welcome parent/carers to visit and join the sessions at any time. Special event invitations are sent out to join us for example; open afternoon, Mothers Day Tea or simply for afternoon tea and a chat.

An afternoon in Nurture Group – How it looks.

Children follow a structure and routine that is clear to both staff and children which includes group listening and speaking, work tasks, individual and shared play and social skills. The group runs on consistency, positive reinforcement and praise.

A typical two hour afternoon session in the Woodland Room would include the following:

The children are collected from their classes after registration and brought to the Woodland Room.

The afternoon starts with a settling down activity around the table. The group then move onto the carpet and form a circle for ‘Mat & Chat’. The children are invited to share any news that they might have and the afternoon agenda/targets/jobs for the day, are discussed so that they know exactly what to expect.

After ‘Mat & Chat’ the group continue with ‘Circle Time’. These sessions offer children a chance to speak/sing in a safe structured non – threatening way, explore thoughts and feelings and listen to others. Moving onto ‘Work & Make’ activities may include painting, making or baking. Here the children are given an opportunity to complete a task which they can feel proud of and to work co-operatively with others in the group.

1st play comes next. Each child works on an individual task at their own level. The task is chosen for them and there is no negotiation.

First play is followed by 2nd play where children are encouraged to function at a parallel or collaborative level of play with another child on a given task.

Story time follows next. This is an opportunity for the children to enjoy a story or some relaxing music with a cushion and a soft toy, to comment on enjoyment and feelings, to ask questions and to listen attentively.

After story is drink and snack. This is usually milk or water with toast, crumpets, etc and a piece of fruit and of course a cake when it is someone’s birthday. The children will take turns to invite a friend to join us for tea and serve the snack. Tea-time invitations are sent out to parents in rotation. The ‘snack’ time is at the heart of this practice when the children and adults sit together and share food and talk. Clearing-up and washing-up is very much a part of the Nurture Group experience.

The Principles of Nurture Groups/Schools

The six principles of nurture groups/schools

1. Children's learning is understood developmentally

In nurture groups/school 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.

2. The classroom/school offers a safe base

The organisation of the environment and the way the group is managed contains anxiety. The nurture classroom 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/schools are an educational provision making the important link between emotional containment and cognitive learning.

3. Nurture is important for the development of self-esteem

Nurture involves listening and responding. In a nurture group/school ‘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/schools’.

4. 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/schools 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.

5. 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.

6. Transitions are significant in the lives of children

The nurture group/school 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.