How can you measure the impact of your nurture group?

16 October 2017 – Dr Florence Ruby


Many practitioners will need to provide evidence to SLT and other staff that their nurture group has an impact on the children, but it can be hard sometimes to know what data you can use to demonstrate your impact. Below are some ideas to help you think about ways you can gather evidence of the impact of your nurture practice!

1. Think about what outcomes you expect to see

When you work with children in nurture, you expect to see some changes in certain key areas… For example, improved social emotional skills – reduced difficult behaviours – children becoming more confident, trusting adults more, more engaged with their learning… the list goes on!
Have a look at the table below where key areas have been listed, and add more if needed!   

2. Find ways to measure these outcomes

Once you have identified the changes you expect to see, try to find a way to measure them / gather evidence about them. You will see, it doesn’t have to be very complicated. 

One very easy way to do this is to ask yourself (and others!) the question “What have you been pleased to notice?” Look around your nurture group or your school and try to notice positive changes in the pupils, and make a note of them. For example, if you know that little Jimmy usually has problems waiting in line before lunch, but today you notice Jimmy is waiting patiently – make sure you praise him and that you mention it to his teacher. The “What have you been pleased to notice?” sentence is a great tool to remind us to look out for positives, and not only focus on the negatives! 

Another way to gather evidence is to take pictures and videos when children are achieving something new. It’s a great way to document what they’ve done, and then show it to their teachers or parents. It also makes it easier then to look back and see the progress children have made.

A more formal way to measure changes is by using questionnaires and other data the school is already collecting. For example, for changes in behaviour: you could look at changes in the Boxall Profile scores, but also check whether a child’s number of absences or expulsions has imporved since he or she started nurture.  

The table below summarises the changes you may hope to see due to nurture, and the measures you could use. Note that it is up to you to decide what to measure. Collecting large amouts of data that you will never use will not be beneficial, so make sure you prioritise data you really need. And remember that you probably are already gathering data as part of your practice, so don't be afraid to use it as evidence. 

3. Make sure you record these measures before and after nurture provision!

Usually, we think about measuring our impact at the end of nurture provision – when SLT and parents ask us “So what changes have you seen in the child?” But the best practice is to think about impact before you even start an intervention!

The reason behind this is that you need a baseline ie. the starting point of the child against which you will be able to monitor improvements. The baseline measure will highlight where the child is at now and will help you see where you want the child to be at the end of nurture. This is why doing the Boxall and collecting other data before a child starts nurture is so important!

Remember that, depending on the impact you want to have you will need to use different measures. For example, if you are hoping to help little Dhara become more self-confident you will need to use different evidence than if you are helping her better accommodate to others.  

Also keep in mind that you will need to use the same measure before and after the intervention! Otherwise, you won’t be able to compare the data (it would be like trying to compare oranges and bananas, which makes little sense!).

4. Communicate your impact accordingly! 

Depending on who you will share your evidence with, you will need to adapt your message. Ofsted for example will want to hear quite a very story compared to little Dhara’s parents.

To talk about the impact of nurture to parents, focus on the “soft” data you have been collecting eg. pictures, notes, observations, etc. Try to give examples of the changes you’ve seen and help parents also identify changes at home. For example, if you’ve seen that Jimmy now can share toys with other children ask his parents whether they see the same improvements at home with siblings.  

For mainstream teachers again, make sure you give concrete examples of changes and try to relate to the teacher’s experience. Can they identify similar improvements when the child is back in the mainstream class? You can also remind them what targets you've been working on and how the child has progressed on these skills, and you can use the Boxall Profile scores and other assessment tools to show them changes. 

Remember that sometimes it is hard for teachers and parents to identify positives when thinking about a child with challenging behaviour, because we are so used to experiencing difficult behaviours. So making sure you help them identify improvements will be very important.

If you want to share the impact of nurture with SLT or head teachers, you can create average Boxall Profile scores from all the nurture childre, or you could create an overview of Boxall Profiles for your whole nurture group (read more about the group overviews tomorrow!). For school staff and SLT, it will be important to talk about both improvements across all the nurture pupils overall, and also provide case studies of individual children.

Finally, to demonstrate your impact to Ofsted and other inspection bodies, read our interview with Yvonne Monaghan (Head of Consultancy at NGN) who provides tips and advice on how to best prepare for the visit!


We know there are many more ways to measure and share the impact of a nurture group, so feel free to share your insights and ideas on the Facebook group and get the conversation going!