Guidance for professionals in Gloucestershire working with young people with mental health or emotional wellbeing concerns
Nurture groups are for pupils showing signs of behavioural, social or emotional difficulties, particularly those who are experiencing disruption or distress outside of school. It can effectively replace missing or distorted early nurturing experiences for both children and young adults The group normally has around 8-10 pupils and emphases learning through play and sharing ‘family-type’ experiences, such as eating breakfast together. The nurture group provide a safe, comfortable, home-like environment with a clear routine which enables pupils to build trusting relationships with adults and gain the skills they need in order to learn in the main class.
Pupils would normally remain a member of their main class, and spend at least some of each day with them, for example, assembly and physical education. Most pupils would attend the nurture group for 2 to 4 terms before returning to the main class. Research has found that typically behavioural, social and emotional skills improve as a result of the nurture group provision.
Ofsted have written a report on the use of nurture groups for children with challenging behaviour in infant, junior and primary schools. The report summarises the key features demonstrated by successful nurture groups.
The Boxall profile https://boxallprofile.org/ provides a framework for the precise assessment of children who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and are failing at school. It helps teachers to plan focused intervention for those children whose behaviour seems to make no sense. https://nurturegroups.org/introducing-nurture/boxall-profile
Nurture Group Network
The Nurture Group Network is a charity that promotes the development of nurture groups and ensures the continuing quality of their delivery through accredited training programmes, research on effective practice, relevant publications and information exchange. Their website contains comprehensive information on all aspects of nurture group www.nurturegroups.org
Educational Psychology training course
The Gloucestershire Educational Psychology Service offers a training course “The Theory and Practice of Nurture Groups” to find out more about dates for training click here
Local Good Practice Example
Barnwood Park’s Nurture Provision support students whose needs have not yet been fully identified and who are struggling with attending school or integration with their peers. The school has created a safe, welcoming base where Mentors and Teachers work with students on outcomes agreed in their Education Plans and support them to make positive connections with the school. They particularly help students who are struggling with social, emotional or mental health issues and guide them to reflect on their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment.
A bespoke programme is created for each student, tailored to their individual needs and interests, this could include gardening, art therapy, physiotherapy, support with English or even small animal care. Each student will only spend a maximum of two half terms in the Nurture Provision before being integrated back into the main school or supported in their transition to an alternative setting. The Nurture Provision has also improved outcomes for students who are experiencing difficulties, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own lives.
Barnwood Park has a whole school nurture approach to supporting mental health and emotional wellbeing based on the development of positive relationships. School staff have been trained in Emotion Coaching which has given them strategies to help children to control their emotions with the emphasis on de-escalation and management where possible rather than punitive measures. Through this approach, with the Nurture Provision as a key component, Barnwood Park has seen an improvement in behaviour across the school and a reduction in the school’s exclusion rate.
The Nurture Provision is open to everyone before school and at lunchtime providing a safe, welcoming place for Year 7s who are struggling with transition as well as older students who need some support. The Nurture Provision also provides a relaxed setting for meetings with families and professionals supporting the student.
If you would like to know more about the Nurture Provision at Barnwood Park School please contact Nicky Young, SENCO, Barnwood Park School, Gloucester.
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