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What are nurture groups?

What is a nurture group?

A nurture group is a small group of 6 to 10 children / young people usually based in a mainstream educational setting and staffed by two supportive adults. Nurture groups offer a short term, focussed, intervention strategy, which addresses barriers to learning arising from social / emotional and or behavioural difficulties, in an inclusive, supportive manner. Children continue to remain part of their own class group and usually return full time within 4 terms. Central to the philosophy is attachment theory; an area of psychology which explains the need for any person to be able to form secure and happy relationships with others in the formative years of their lives and our ongoing knowledge of neuroscience.

There are examples of nurture groups now in early years settings, primary and secondary schools, PRU's, Special Schools and alternative settings and supported by organisations such as Barnardos.

Nurture groups are an effective, evidenced based approach supporting Special Educational Needs (SEN) / Additional Support Needs (ASD) in the form of Social, Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) in an inclusive manner. Through successfully addressing the barriers to learning, this results in both improved academic attainment and improved health and wellbeing.

How do nurture groups work?

Trained staff create an attractive, safe, structured environment, usually within the context of a mainstream educational setting, with a number of areas and resources designed to bridge the gap between home and school. Building trusting relationships are core to the approach. The children are carefully selected according to their individual holistic profile of needs, identified using the Boxall Profile whilst also ensuring the establishment of a cohesive nurture group. Individual and group plans are then formulated, with all targets thoroughly discussed with all involved including the pupils themselves. Staff then provide a variety of experiences, opportunities, approaches and resources to address these needs within a culture of trust, understanding and knowledge incorporating the 6 principles of nurture as undernoted, with progress closely monitored.

The six principles of nurture

  1. Children's learning is understood developmentally
  2. The classroom offers a safe base
  3. The importance of nurture for the development of self-esteem
  4. Language is a vital means of communication
  5. All behaviour is communication
  6. The importance of transition in children's lives

Ref: Lucas,S., Insley,K. and Buckland,G. (2006) Nurture Group Principles and Curriculum Guidelines Helping Children to Achieve, The Nurture Group Network.

Want to know more?

There’s lots of information contained within our website about nurture groups including evidence of their effectiveness, training opportunities for teachers, support assistants, Educational Psychologists, SENCO's, Looked After Children staff, voluntary organisations etc. and really useful publications including our "Nurture Room" DVD. See the "Our Impact" section for more information or view our FAQs. Better still visit a nurture group for yourself and be utterly convinced immediately after speaking to the staff and children / young people and parents. Completion of NGN training ensures that staff can confidently implement the approach having understood the underlying theory of attachment theory and neuroscience which underpins the nurture group approach.