Nurture Group (‘Treasure Chest’)

What is a Nurture Group?
A Nurture group (NG) is a small class in infant or primary schools for students with Social, Emotional, Behavioural and learning difficulties (SEBD). A central aim of a NG is to provide the conditions necessary for children to develop in these areas and so cognitively they begin to develop. They are highly structured and managed carefully to give the best opportunities to fill in the missing gaps in development for specific children.They are designed to remove or reduce barriers to learning and to reduce the problem of mental health problems in later life and to reduce the levels of youth offending and anti social behaviour in adolescence.Nurture Groups were devised by Marjorie Boxall in the 1970s in inner London boroughs reflecting the need for an educational provision for children with SEBD. So they are not new!They are caring yet firm systems to help children learn that they can learn and to help them understand strong emotional feelings which can often stop them and prevent others, from learning.
Why do we need a Nurture Group at Haylands?
The SAFE (Support Activities For Everyone) project at Haylands identified a need for a NG following intensive support work with pupils. The local demographic area has identified pockets of deprivation which are often needy areas of social and emotional support – this is why Sure Start secured support in Ryde. In order to support Ryde pupils (particularly Haylands pupils) and to break the cycle of low aspirations, achievements and increasing mental health problems, we decided to start a NG, with a view to early intervention, as a positive way to raise children’s life chances. The NG fits in very well with the Every Child Matters agenda (See principles & practise).
Principles and Practice
The principles were developed by Boxall and Bennathan as guidance and as good working practise for staff and whole school values.The Nurture Group principles are:
1.Children’s learning is understood developmentally
Co-operative play is encouraged; there are basic experiences which are led by the NG leaders. Support with fine and gross motor skills for development & co-ordination. There are opportunities for personal, social & emotional development at the earliest levels of play, communication, language and literacy, in close proximity to the adults.
2.The classroom offers a safe base
Trusting relationships are established which offer reassurance, constancy, interest and commitment. A domestic setting can facilitate emotional & physical attachment. A predictable and structured routine emphasises order and repetition offering calmness. Clear boundaries are set and maintained with routines such as tidying away and behaviour boundaries are clear & consistent.
3.The importance of nurture for the development of self-esteem
Children’s work is valued and we all share in their achievements. Attention is given in many ways, eye contact, smiling, nodding etc. reflecting genuine rewards for effort and achievement. We use music, singing, playing and other shared experiences such as meal times, story reading to raise levels of self- esteem. Staff listen to, anticipate and respond to children’s individual needs.
4.Language as a vital means of communication
There is time and opportunity for children to express their feelings and explore language development. Additional support is made for speech & language delays or difficulties. Staff are experienced in language & communication through play. Staff help children to verbalise what they find difficult to express, reducing behavioural difficulties.
5.It is understood that all behaviour is communication
Staff recognise the use of non-verbal communication and respond appropriately. Physical contact may be a means of expression by some children. Children will come to understand that their behaviour is understood rather than judged and that difficult situations may be diffused.
6.The importance of transitions in children’s lives is understood
A simple and manageable routine is provided, transitions between lessons and sessions are prepared for, so supporting and affirming. Transitions are a difficult time for many children and children are supported through changes. During times of stress the school community recognise that some children may not be able to sustain achievements and offer support when needed.

Curriculum Matters
We take learning very seriously in the NG. The need to have a mind free of stress or anxiety in order to learn is imperative. We also know that for some children, writing is a stress and even being in a class room is a trigger for failure. Therefore we don’t bring these pressures to the NG classroom. We start from what the child already knows and build from there, using their strengths to find ways to open doors to learning.

Here is a challenge for you…
When baking a cake what skills are needed?How many ideas did you come up with?
Here’s some help;
Mathematical skills- measuring, weighing, estimating, maths language
Scientific skills – materials, change of state, melt, dissolve, freeze
DT – wrapping/packaging
Art – design a biscuit
Motor skills – pouring, slicing, shaking, icing, mixing, breaking eggs
Senses – smell, touch, taste, hearing (following instructions), expressive language
Social – communication, collaboration, team work, sharing, taking turns, laughing, peer praise.In one small activity we can cover a lot of knowledge, learning and enquiry about a subject. We have themes which we follow- always at the child’s pace- and encourage self learning by way of visiting the library or searching the www for more information.Reading is important but accessed through group reading of stories, instructions for games and everyday language. Speaking and listening is of great importance, we practise this daily and several times a day as well. Children with SEBD aren’t always ready to listen to others or see things from another person’s point of view, so they can be very good at talking but not listening. We teach them the skills they need for both.We know when children want to learn again because they ask to learn and welcome work. Imagine that! Children asking for work!
When ready, we re-integrate the children back into class supported gradually and at their own speed and pace.Try this website for fun activities that are interactive
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/magickey/index.shtml

 

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