Supportive nurture programme increases levels of pupils’ self-esteem

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Gladstone Primary School are committed to supporting their pupils. Having breakfast clubs and designated areas allow pupils to talk openly about any physical or emotional concerns.

Number of pupils: 445
Age range: 3-11
Date of inspection: January - February 2018

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

Gladstone Primary School is creating a ‘wrap around’ nurture programme for all pupils, especially to support pupils from deprived backgrounds.

The nurture leader is well qualified and has completed training with the Nurture Network Group.  She is also currently training as a counsellor, which shows the school’s commitment to continue with the emphasis of listening to the pupils.

A designated room, called ‘The Cwtch’, is the centre to the school’s nurture provision.  The school describes this as ‘very much a home from home’ with soft furnishings, gentle lighting, a spiced apple scent, ornaments and a collection of teapots.  Staff have tried to create ‘Granny’s house’ for pupils.  A safe place.  They have been developing this room since 2012 in recognition of pupils that struggle to learn because of their physical or emotional wellbeing.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The nurture provision begins at 8.45am when carefully selected ‘breakfast’ pupils arrive.  They start every morning with a different timetabled activity, including colouring and stories.  The pupils then wash their hands, lay the breakfast table and prepare a basic breakfast of toast, jam and tea or water.  These pupils are selected according to attendance, any teacher concerns or parental request for support if pupils are reluctant to come into school.

Whilst the pupils eat between 9am and 9.30am, Cwtch has a ‘check in’ system where all pupils can request to ‘pop in for a chat’.  This is an opportunity to listen to pupils, settle disputes, and provide a calm and comforting period if needed, or to contact parents if necessary.  Some pupils may, for example, be worried about a sick family member, others may have argued with a friend.  Their voice is heard or their silence welcomed.  All pupils are welcome.

The Cwtch changes its use at playtimes and becomes a place of reflection for pupils who have hurt another child the previous day or that morning.  The school refuses to accept any form of physical abuse and any child that hurts another person within the school is required to complete a restorative form, which reminds pupils of the values they hold and why their actions weren’t helpful, kind or friendly.

The school runs daily student assistance programme (SAP) circles.  These are for pupils selected by teachers, who carefully consider their current circumstances.  A SAP circle runs for 12 weeks and includes a series of talking circles covering subjects from anger to getting along with adults.  Pupils have a safe, confidential space where they can reflect upon, discuss and review their relationships and behaviours.

At lunch time, two adults dine with a small group of vulnerable pupils who may find it difficult to cope in a large dining area.  Staff lay the table and eat as a family would at home, encouraging table manners, eating etiquette and a natural, relaxed eating atmosphere.

In the afternoons, the Cwtch becomes a nurture unit for pupils carefully selected using a resource for the assessment of children and young people's social, emotional and behavioural development.  The school has sound a structure for planning for pupils’ emotional wellbeing.  This includes facilitating weekly local trips, and opportunities to sing songs, cook, tell stories, paint, create and play.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

The standards of behaviour across the school have improved, with the school reporting a 4% increase so far this year in the number pupils feeling that other pupils behave well across the school.  There has been a 7% increase in the number of pupils feeling that the school deals well with any bullying issues.

Other analysis notes that the school is significantly better than the average for schools in its local authority.  In particular, pupils’ self-esteem levels are very high and anger levels are very low.  All pupils are very motivated and apply themselves well during lessons.

The school also notes that it has seen a 25% decrease in the number of letters sent home to parents as a consequence of its whole-school behaviour strategy.  The rate of exclusions has reduced and the number of ‘X strikes’ for physical violence has also reduced.

How have you shared your good practice?

Other schools within the local authority have visited to look at the provision and the practice is also shared within local authority nurture forum meetings.