31 January 2020
Author: Nora Dwyer (UCL Institute of Education)
A Nurture Group is a targeted intervention aimed at supporting pupils with SEMH difficulties (Bennathan & Boxall, 2013).
The current study explored the features of NGs in a London Borough, adding to a limited body of research concerning the characteristics of NGs across England.
A social constructivist epistemological position was adopted throughout this research.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with N =19 participants; whereby n=5 SENCOs; n=1 NG teachers; n=7 TAs and n= 6 NG pupils.
Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. In addition, qualitative observations of eight NGs were used to further contextualise the findings.
The results revealed that all NGs examined differed in their approach, with the majority of the NGs deviating from the guidelines for an effective NG as set out by Nurture UK (2019).
A salient characteristic was that the majority of NGs were managed by Teaching Assistants rather than Teachers.
Interestingly, all NG staff reported that their own version of nurture was viewed positively by their pupils.
In addition adult participants reported a perceived positive impact upon the pupils who attended.
The study also revealed that schools who most adhered to the criteria set out by Nurture UK (2019) seemed to have a higher number of formal processes in place.
The implications of the findings suggested that, by adopting some form of nurturing principles, ‘nurturing’ groups may have a positive effect upon CYP, although the larger or longer term effects have been observed in pupils attending an NG which strictly adheres to the guidelines (Sloan et al., 2020).
NGs in England would benefit from support from an outside service such as an EP, who could assist with the management of the NG, ensuring it is being run to its full potential