Lancaster Nurture Group Report
This report, written by Jo Warin and Rebecca Hibbin, provides a comparative analysis of Nurture Groups in seven school settings across the North West of England: five with traditional Nurture Groups in school, and two ‘alternative provisions’ pursuing either ‘integrated nurture’, or practice based upon attachment principles but without specialised Nurture Group provision.
The broad aims of the report centre upon uncovering the principles of nurture-in-practice in relation to: the impact of the Nurture Group as a psychosocial intervention for vulnerable children; the influence of school leadership; the preconditions for effective communication; and lessons for mainstream primary classrooms.
How was the data analysed?
The data was analysed across five areas: The Child; The Nurture Group; The Mainstream Class; The Parents/Carers; and The Whole School. Across these five areas two key themes emerged as being particularly important drivers of nurture-in-practice.
- the importance of relationships to enhance communication and to model positive and functional ways of relating to children, parents and teachers.
- training for all staff members to instil an understanding of and value for nurture across the school to promote a vision of whole school as therapeutic community and an understanding of behaviour as communication.
More specifically, these two themes can be understood in relation to the development of strategies to:
- promote a multi-targeted and timely response; timetable nurture effectively; create a balanced Nurture Group dynamic; prioritise psychosocial concerns whilst simultaneously balancing academic aims and outcomes; stagger transitions; promote child-led and individualised approaches to behaviour management; and minimise the contrast between nurture and mainstream with particular attention to punitive in-class behavioural management systems.
In addition the role of senior leadership has been emphasised in relation to the need to:
- provide support for nurture; pursue clear aims and objectives; manage value clashes between mainstream and Nurture Group staff members; create a bridge between the contexts of nurture and mainstream; pursue simple and less punitive behavioural management systems; promote formal pastoral polices to support and involve parents; and recruit and retain staff on the basis of the right person for the job.
Overall, this report concludes that a commitment to the creation and maintenance of ongoing relationships; an understanding of behaviour as communication which naturally leads to less punitive, more restorative, forms of behaviour management; and a commitment to the support and training of the whole staff-base are essential elements in the promotion of successful nurture practice in school. It is suggested that these principles are most effectively implemented through the simultaneous provision of specialised Nurture Groups as well as through an integrated nurturing philosophy that runs across the whole school.