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The Nurture Group Network

The Nurture Group Network promotes the development of nurture groups. These are small groups of children, who need short-focused support to help address issues connected to social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. They ensure the continuing quality of their delivery through accredited training programmes, research on effective practice, relevant publications and information exchange.

The original groups were started by Marjorie Boxall, an Educational Psychologist working in Hackney, in 1970. She was greatly concerned by the levels of disturbance, staff stress and referrals to Special Education and Support Services from Primary Schools. Many of the children referred to her showed good potential for learning but were not succeeding because they had not developed the social and emotional skills to adapt to school life.

They were often insecure and lacked trust in adults. In short, barriers to successful learning had been created and could be surmounted by adopting a Nurturing regime.

Most Local Authorities in UK value, and make provision for Nurture in schools and there are an increasing number of groups running in KS3 settings. Derbyshire celebrated 10 years of Nurture in 2009.

Nurture Group Principles

  • Children's learning is understood developmentally.
  • The nurture room offers a safe base.
  • Nurture is important in the development of self-esteem.
  • Language is a vital means of communication.
  • All behaviour is communication.
  • The importance of transition in children's lives.

“Supporting children with challenging behaviour through a nurture group approach.”

Ofsted, 2011

Between November 2010 and March 2011 inspectors visited 29 schools to explore their use of Nurture group provision. All the groups had been established to cater for pupils whose behaviour was causing concern. Concerns fell into three main categories:

  • overt, 'acting out' behaviour
  • disruptive behaviour that interrupted their and other's learning
  • withdrawn behaviour and a reticence to interact with others

The main findings from the report states:

“Nurture Groups were found to make a considerable difference to the behaviour and social skills of the pupils who attended them. Through intensive, well-structured teaching and support, pupils learned to manage their own behaviour, to build positive relationships with adults and with other pupils and to develop strategies to help them cope with their emotions.”

A Nurture Network Group 3-day Training Course is available annually. This leads to a nationally accredited qualification in Nurture work and also provides credits toward degree status. For more information contact Derbyshire Nurture Team:

Janet Stuart:
Suzanne Meikle-Janney: