The impact of Nurture Group principles and practice on the whole primary school
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Abstract Paper 1: The provision of Nurture Groups (NGs) has been recognised as an effective early intervention for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). ‘The high expectations of teachers in Nurture Groups can bring about amazing change’ in the lives of young emotionally disturbed children (Lucas, 1999, p.14). When the principles of NG are effectively applied by all staff in all areas of the school and when nurturing attitudes and practices develop throughout the school, teaching and learning become effective for all children (Lucas, 1999). This study aims to extend the understanding of the gains and costs that may be associated with the placement of children in NGs. The NG intervention’s contribution to the wider school system is also documented. However, this study aims to provide a deeper understanding on the impact of NG provision on the mainstream school it serves from the viewpoints of the different groups of participants involved and to look whether the ethos and approaches used in the nurture group are promoted in the wider school environment. A case study methodology with interpretive approaches was employed in a community primary school in an urban area in the South West of England. Quantitative (Boxall Profiles) and qualitative (interviews and observations) measures revealed that overall there have been improvements in NG children’s social, emotional and behavioural (SEB) functioning and academic development. However, findings also revealed a number of opportunity costs attached to children’s placement in the NG. Qualitative measures also showed that, while NG provision contributed to positive developments within the school, the NGs did not help the school in fully integrating their work in the wider approach to meeting all children’s needs. A number of disadvantages were also reported with regards to the impact of the NG upon the school. Abstract Paper 2: The provision of Nurture Groups has been recognised as an effective early intervention for children with SEBD. ‘The high expectations of teachers in Nurture Groups can bring about amazing change’ in the lives of young emotionally disturbed children (Lucas, 1999, p.14). When the principles of NG are effectively applied by all staff in all areas of the school and when nurturing attitudes and practices develop throughout the school, teaching and learning become effective for all children (Lucas, 1999). Communication between NG and mainstream staff is considered to be important for the effective running of the NGs and for developing a nurturing school ethos. Lack of collaborative partnership work can create tensions between NG and mainstream staff. Parental involvement is also recognised important in the NG. Research reveals that partnership relationships with parents contribute to positive social and emotional outcomes for children and to positive effects for parents in terms of their capacity to understand their children and apply NG practices outside of the NG. Despite the inherent power imbalance between NG staff and parents, there can be a positive outcome if the NG approaches are extended holistically to all school staff. The aim of this paper is to explore the quality of communication between NG and mainstream staff and the enablers and barriers of parental involvement in the NGs and the school. This qualitative study was conducted in a community primary school in an urban area in the South West of England and included 34 participants - 13 school staff, 8 parents, 9 children, and 4 professionals and governors. Semi-structured interview data revealed that while some communication existed between NG and mainstream staff there were subtle difficulties involved in creating a collaborative partnership work with regards to sharing information with each other. Despite developing a collaborative relationship and effective communication being seen as the most important enabler for parental involvement in the NGs and the rest of the school, there was a more structured communication and a more supportive support between the NGs and parents of the NG children than the rest of the school and parents.
DEdPsy in Educational, Child & Community Psychology