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Nurture groups? Any thoughts?

(24 Posts)
Vics32 Sun 18-Jan-15 15:26:16

Any thoughts on Nurture Groups within the school? Thanks

TeenAndTween Sun 18-Jan-15 18:22:59

They are good for children who benefit from them.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 18-Jan-15 18:25:02

They can only be a good thing can't they?

I'm sure many children benefit from.them

PandaNot Sun 18-Jan-15 18:27:44

Genuine nurture groups are fantastic. If it's just a place for teachers to put all their 'problem' children then they don't work. They have to be planned very well and you need the right staff running them.

TeenAndTween Sun 18-Jan-15 18:38:50

OP - can you give any background to your question?

BackforGood Sun 18-Jan-15 18:42:33

Agree with T&T - what do you want to know about them ?

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 18-Jan-15 18:43:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pooka Sun 18-Jan-15 18:49:03

We have one at our school. Accredited and now a training facility too.

It is most definitely not a dumping ground.

The entrance and exit strategies are very carefully planned. It's finite - children spend about 2 terms there I think, allied with time spent with their cohort. The aim is to build confidence and emotional resilience within a safe and very attractive setting, without complete separation from classmates. Is definitely preferable in terms of making a difference to the old scenario of child not coping, child misbehaving, child disrupting, child excluded, and the sense that interventions were reactive rather than preventive.

The transition into the setting is managed in cooperation with the external ed psychs and behaviour specialists. It means that a good assessment if made before hand and this assessment and strategies for improving school access after they leave the setting are very carefully considered.

Sadly or happily, it can also be an effective tool for assessing the appropriateness of mainstream education. If a child is using the nurture room and all the low pupil staff ratio, training and interventions are unable to help within a mainstream nurture room setting, it's kind of indicative that perhaps it would be best for the child's long-term to look at non-mainstream provision. It isn't intended to be used as a test, but it adds to the weight of evidence about the limitations of mainstream and the effectiveness or otherwise of mainstream for meeting some children's needs.

Just from what I know, it seems that attendance massively jumps for all children in the setting, and they make much more progress during their time in the nurture room that they did in previous terms. I'd say probably 2 out of 3 children then make the return to their old class.

missnevermind Sun 18-Jan-15 18:59:44

My DS spent some time over several years in Nurture groups at primary school.
We believe him to be borderline ASD and has extreme anxiety. The nurture groups were good, gave him something to focus on.
But when he went into the one at the senior school it was amazing. They taught him coping strategies, emotional and mental tick charts to steady himself And self organisational skills. He has s list in his head which he goes over every morning before school and this is still working to full effect in year 9.

CharlesRyder Sun 18-Jan-15 19:42:59

Sadly they are increasingly run by unqualified staff. As an intervention it should be seen as more valuable than that.

ReallyTired Mon 19-Jan-15 07:44:45

Some schools like my daughters hav an excessive number of tas. Chikdren with special needs often end up being taught by a dinner lady than an experienced qualified teacher. Certainly there is evidence that taking a child out with a ta can lessen attainment as the child misses teaching with the teacher and gets further behind.

A nurture group with a qualified and experienced teacher is a brilliant idea. if a TA is used to run a nurture group then it becomes a baby sitting service. It is unacceptable for difficult children to be principlely taught by non teachers.

I know I will get flamed by tas but I feel qualified teachers should plan and teach challenging children. It's fine to have a TA to clean paint pots or listen to reading, but there are some tasks that should be reserved for qualified teachers. If a TA wants to teach then he/she should go and train.

kesstrel Mon 19-Jan-15 09:59:02

This is effectively the system they use in Finland, and it seems to work quite well there. The "special education" teacher is a much better option than untrained TAs, in my opinion, especially as some children seem to be infantilised by becoming too dependent on their TA, and end up not learning much.

Pooka Mon 19-Jan-15 12:34:56

Our nurture room has 1.5 trained teachers and several SEN specific TAs.

From what I can see, there's a full time nurture room teacher, and the other teachers do a term 0.5 stint in rotation, if is practically possible for them to have 0.5 main class and 0.5 nurture room. Certainly the lead reception teacher is currently in nurture room part time, with job share reception teacher "covering" while she's in the nurture room.

Pooka Mon 19-Jan-15 12:37:43

The main issue with them though is they are very expensive if done properly.

In order to measure value for money, you can assess the impact of the intervention on the children in the room. It's harder to measure any knock on impact it has on the children remaining in the main classes, though this is a benefit as there's less low level disruption. But it's hard to measure that impact and so on paper the nurture room looks like high cost, low impact in pure terms of the number of kids directly benefitting.

You need to be able to justify the room to governors an ofsted in terms of a valid expenditure.

CrispyFern Mon 19-Jan-15 12:47:40

What do schools without nurture groups do with kids who struggle in the classroom? What's the alternative I mean?

ReallyTired Mon 19-Jan-15 13:06:11

"What do schools without nurture groups do with kids who struggle in the classroom? What's the alternative I mean?"

Difficult kids get sent home more. Or they sit in the corridor with a TA.

The problem is that its very hard to quantify what is good progress. Many skills a child learns in a nuture group are quantifiable by SATs.

" But it's hard to measure that impact and so on paper the nurture room looks like high cost, low impact in pure terms of the number of kids directly benefitting. "

It is a lot cheaper than the cost of sending a child to special school if there are several children who need the nuture setting. It allows children with significant special needs to educated alongside their community. It also saves money in taxi fares. Inclusion done properly is not a cheap option.

There is evidence that providing a child with a one to one TA and bunging them into mainstream does more damage than good. Having a one to one TA sometimes means that child gets less time with a qualified teacher and becomes excessively dependent on adult support.

www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/apr/17/special-educational-needs-teaching-assistant-support-sen-students

There is a possiblity that students are damaged by the intervention that is put in place to help them. It is an area that requires more careful research rather than knee jerk reaction that one to one support is a good thing.

A small nuture group with a qualified teacher is an alternative to one to one support. Children in the nurture group can take part in mainstream activites as far as they can cope with. The nuture group can be paid of out of the budget that would have paid for the children to have one to one support.

FannyFanakapan Mon 19-Jan-15 13:28:14

Our federation of schools has a nurture group provision, shared among 11 schools in the area. Qualified teacher plus very experienced (10+ years) TA.

The children can only go to nurture group if they meet certain criteria. They stay for 2 terms, although I know of a child who stayed for 3. On entry and again on exit, the criteria are assessed to see if the nurture group has made a difference to the child.

Ive sat in on a session (with my governor hat on) and its amazing how the staff operate.

To give an example, we had to play a listening game, where each person told the others something good that happened that weekend. You get a good idea of the level of neglect for the children just from listening. (highlight of weekend: Playing COD with dad. CHild is 6)

Then the children had to go round the circle again, and say "Im thinking of someone who had a sleepover this weekend" and the children would all guess who. SO teaching turn taking, listening and speaking.

When the children said something happy, the teacher would say how she felt happy and look, her eyes were all scrunched up and her mouth turned up at the corners and thats how we knew she was happy. Teaching facial expressions.

The session broke for breakfast at 10am, as several children did not come into school with full tums, so they had toast. One child laid the table, another got the butter and spreads...each child selected their own topping and spread it themselves (life skills) and then on to free play and then a structured craft activity involving sharing and co-operating and talking in small groups.

Our nurture group does not teach as it is infants level and the skills of listening and turn taking, co-operating and social play and expression are what is needed to be taught. FOr many children, this is all they need to be able to cope in a classroom setting further down the line.

We have issues with TAs in our school that have been there since Noah built the ark. They cannot be sacked, they wont retire and they are next to useless. Others are brilliant, and take on essential roles like Speech and Language development, under the supervision and guidance of a bought in SALT.

Pooka Mon 19-Jan-15 13:41:05

I'm in favour, so long as they are properly set up and aren't remotely like a sin-bin.

Ours is properly set up and staffed and admission is very carefully considered.

Pre nurture room, we had a lot of "TA for a named child". Often not especially well trained or qualified. Their role was to put out fires, essentially to act as supervision. Didn't do much in terms of measurable progress, integration and achievement.

Am an ex gov. Some of the govs were very anti the nurture room because of the cost. Personally, I think that it has been a very positive thing for the whole school.

ReallyTired Mon 19-Jan-15 13:56:22

"We have issues with TAs in our school that have been there since Noah built the ark. They cannot be sacked, they wont retire and they are next to useless."

I suppose the view is that TAs are not paid a lot in the big scheme of things. Unless a school is really badly run it should not have lots of useless TAs. Does your school not use performance managment. I suspect a big problem is that some TAs are not capable of being left to their own devices.

FannyFanakapan Mon 19-Jan-15 14:21:18

We have introduced performance mgt for the TAs in the last couple of years, hoping that it would spur them to become qualified or to retire. They have targets that include getting A-C grade GCSEs in Math and English. Two of them have yet to pass, despite multiple retakes. Its a very small school!

When they took on the role many many years ago, TAs were there to assist. Now, as teacher's time more and more precious, the TAs are having to step in and teach some children - especially early intervention stuff.

ReallyTired Mon 19-Jan-15 14:46:07

"When they took on the role many many years ago, TAs were there to assist. Now, as teacher's time more and more precious, the TAs are having to step in and teach some children - especially early intervention stuff."

Maybe the problem is the expectation of these TAs. TAs should be having to step and and teach some children. Its a badly paid job that pays barely more than the minimum wage. I feel sorry for these ladies if they were orginally employed to clean out paint pots, change wet pants, photocopying or listen to children read and expected to take exams and teach.

Teachers have a lost list of jobs that they are not required to do. Maybe schools need a long list of jobs which should not be degleted to a TA however good.

ReallyTired Mon 19-Jan-15 14:49:12

Sorry I meant that TAs should not be teaching.

CrispyFern Mon 19-Jan-15 15:04:11

Hmm. DD spends her mornings in Nurture then her afternoons in the corridor with a 17 year old TA.

Best / worst of both worlds I guess! hmm

Vics32 Tue 20-Jan-15 18:47:56

Thanks for your candid opinions. I am a TA running a nurture group. I have had 7 years experience working as a class TA, decided I wanted more and am now employed as a Higher Level TA. I am studying to become a teacher because of the expectations of TA's now. I was left in charge of a year 6 class for an entire month at my previous school.

I wanted parents, practitioners and governors to give me their honest opinions on nurture groups as it is a fairly new thing for me (I am qualified in behaviour management and I do have GCSE's grade A-C in maths and English. Any more opinions would be most welcome.

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