Diane Rich


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Nurture group provision in Xxxxxxxx LEA 2004


This report sets out to:

  • Assemble a factual database of key information about the Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture groups that can be used to provide evidence upon which strategies for development can be based.

  • Make observations and recommendations based on a review of this key information under the following headings:

    • The way in which the resources allocated to the Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture groups is managed to provide value for money.

    • The potential for using the Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture groups as centres of excellence in order to train teachers and assistants in adopting a nurturing approach in the classroom.

    • The adequacy of the training of Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture group staff to meet the changing need of pupils and vulnerable families.

    • The role of Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture group staff in contributing towards the development of nurture groups at national level.

    • The degree to which the present document on Policy and Operational Guidelines reflects current practice.

It is the result of a ten day study which included initial consultation, preparation, design of the review and materials used, visits to the Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture group schools to meet staff and parents, visits to the education psychology service, time for analysing material collected, further liaison, writing and presenting the report.

The report contains analysis of qualitative data which can be used to provide evidence upon which strategies for development can be based. Throughout the report some charts and comments provide factual qualitative data in line with more traditional database materials. Five out of the six nurture group schools responded to questionnaires providing quantitative data. Six schools took part in the study through interviews, providing qualitative data.

The report looks at nurture group provision in Xxxxxxxx LEA through the eyes of parents, staff in schools, LEA support staff, and members of the education psychology service.

For the purpose of the review all those who took part through interview or questionnaire are referred to as ‘respondent’. Pupils are referred to as ‘children’.

At no time were judgements made about quality of provision in nurture groups visited.

  1. Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture groups are acknowledged nationally as models of good practice.

  2. Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture groups are value for money. They provide: benefits for children who attend and all children throughout the school; staff development for class teachers with children in nurture groups and staff throughout the school; support for families and parents. Benefits extended to the LEA.

  3. Respondents were anxious about celebrating the benefits of nurture groups too widely within the LEA because they feared that more schools would want funding to set up their own nurture groups. They perceived this would result in a dilution of funds and result in poor nurture group provision which could not be sustained long term.

  4. Respondents had traditionally operated a low key approach to celebrating the benefits of nurture groups in school and were anxious that this had influenced what was felt to be a lack of interest from within the borough.

  5. Nurture groups in Xxxxxxxx LEA have a positive effect, not only on the lives of children, families and those in schools, but also because they attract teachers to Xxxxxxxx LEA.

  6. Those who took part in the study call for expansion of provision throughout the borough to include all schools with similar catchment areas and needs.

  7. Nurture group funding is sometimes used flexibly when there is not full nurture group staffing in place.

  8. Nurture groups are funded from schools budgets to make up deficits in staff costs and resource needs.

  9. Key questions have to be addressed before expanding services and developing any strategy which enables Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture groups to be used as centres of excellence in order to train teachers and assistants in adopting a nurturing approach in the classroom. These include: Are nurturing approaches desired in Xxxxxxxx LEA classrooms? Who will be the trainers? Who might the audience be? What might training involve?

  10. Potential audiences for training include:

    • Practitioners in Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture group schools

    • Practitioners in Xxxxxxxx LEA’s schools and early years services

    • Practitioners at initial training level

    • Practitioners at ongoing professional development level

    • Practitioners external to Xxxxxxxx LEA.

    1. Some training of practitioners by nurture group staff already goes on in Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture group schools. Further organised training services require a full time nurture group liaison officer/co-ordinator.

    2. Routes for funding the training service require full exploration and schools needs support in how to access all of these routes.

    3. The staff development opportunities nurture groups can offer all Xxxxxxxx LEA staff should outweigh anxieties. ‘Reaching the many’ should be an ideal which can be aspired to. If nurturing principles are important for all children, all schools and early years services in Xxxxxxxx LEA should be entitled to access the expertise offered through this unique provision.

    4. Fostering links with initial training organisations and associations using quality assurance schemes (eg NDNA, PLA) could be beneficial to all practitioners setting out on their initial stages of working with children and ensure that nurturing principles are understood by a much wider audience.

    5. A full time nurture group officer/co-ordinator should be employed to link with, support and monitor all of Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture groups, liaise with all support agencies, support new groups and undertake relevant nurture group duties.

    6. Initial training for work in nurture groups is varied and often does not exist for either nurture group staff or other staff in schools.

    7. Nurture group staff, once in post, have a good training programme, which they want maintained. They highly value the Wednesday monthly training sessions and regard the inset provided as ‘relevant’ and ‘excellent’.

    8. There is currently very limited use of Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture group schools to mentor new staff from within the borough. Many staff in Xxxxxxxx LEA know little or nothing about its nurture groups.

    9. Whole school approaches to nurture groups make a difference to: the success of the group; staff morale, professional development for all staff; a nurturing ethos throughout the school.

    10. Staff in school value support from top level. It is essential that headteachers support and understand the principles of nurture groups. Initial and ongoing training and support for headteachers should be considered.

    11. Headteachers value support from top LEA level. Staff at top LEA level should attend and support the termly steering group meetings, which were once thought of as a source for peer support and professional development for headteachers. This would reinstate the status of the meetings; ensure that it is able to act as an effective self monitoring service; and help to ensure that it is supported by all headteachers.

    12. Nurture groups are a potential schools source of training for Xxxxxxxx LEA schools and early years setting school across the borough of Xxxxxxxx LEA and beyond its boundaries.

    13. Nurture group staff in Xxxxxxxx LEA contribute towards the development of nurture groups at national level through: presenting sessions on accredited courses, hosting out of borough visitors, links with the national nurture group network, being nationally acknowledged in publications, studies, radio and TV broadcasts. They support national initiatives through good practice.

    14. The Operational Guidelines are interpreted with some flexibility. It is important to agree when a nurture group might cease to be a nurture group.

    15. However a Xxxxxxxx LEA nurture group school has interpreted the Operational Guidelines, nurturing principles underpin provision.

    16. However a school interprets the Operational Guidelines, parents are highly supportive of the school’s nurture group provision and identify numerous benefits for their children.

    17. Monitoring and supporting nurture groups to ensure practice is developed well, requires ongoing, consistent support from a permanent member of staff within the LEA with responsibility of nurture groups in Xxxxxxxx LEA - new and old.

    18. The approaching anniversary year of Xxxxxxxx LEA’s nurture group provision, in 2005, should be celebrated by raising the profile of the existing nurture groups and extending nurture group services.

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