Nurture Class

Yummies – Nurture Class
Article: Scholastic Year 2012-2013 by Ms Brenda Cefai and Ms Pierline Debono (Nurture Group Staff)

Our RulesWhile forming part as the nurture group staff, we realise how effective our roles can be towards the behaviour and social skills of children who might otherwise be at risk of exclusion and drop-out even in the secondary years of their schooling. The early intervention programs offered in order to prevent unnecessary behavioural difficulties ensure that pupils in these groups are making academic as well as social and emotional progress.

We make certain that through a nurture group approach, children with challenging behaviour make substantial progress with their behavioural, social and emotional skills. This can be possible since nurture groups are small, structured teaching groups for pupils showing signs of behavioural, social or emotional difficulties. This could include aggression, an inability to work independently or very withdrawn behaviour. Our main activities to deal with the latter issues include social games and the use of hand puppets.

Through these groups pupils can learn to manage their own behaviour, build positive relationships with adults and with other pupils, and develop strategies to help them cope with their emotions. Our day starts and ends with Circle Time. However it is important to say that nurture groups cannot be the complete solution to the support that vulnerable children need. In fact our school itself needs to be a nurturing environment where families need to be supported.

Well-planned, rigorous intervention that focuses on academic as well as social, emotional and behavioural progress can make a huge difference to the lives of children who might otherwise be left behind. Through these groups pupils are given the skills they need to remain in mainstream education.

Most parents and carers express their appreciation of how the nurture group intervention had helped their children. They spoke of their children being calmer, happier and more confident, both at school and at home, and of their own greater confidence in managing their children’s behaviour. Parents/carers are invited to ‘drop in’ and meet with nurture group staff to talk about their child, including asking for support with managing their behaviour or supporting their learning.

Our nurture room has been a respite to most teachers who at times feel exhausted and pressured within their classroom environment.  We are very eager to continue working with our Senior Management Team, teachers, parents and other professionals to encourage our students who continually make progress no matter how slow this progress may look like.

A new adventure: The Nurture Class
Article: Scholastic Year 2009-2010 by Ms Brenda Cefai and Ms Pierline Debono (Nurture Group Staff)

Our Nurture Class has the key role of promoting early intervention and inclusion in school.  It is part of a strategic school plan and features regularly in our School Development Plan.

At our school, we all believe that the provision of the Nurture Class, which we aptly christened The Yummies Club, is a positive development and should be an integral part of an early intervention strategy for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Both the nurture class teacher and the learning support assistant aims to give our pupils many opportunities to develop his or her learning skills as well as the abilities to manage their feelings and get along with their peers.  Through these experiences our pupils develop the skills necessary to operate better in their mainstream classroom group.

A typical nurture group day at Floriana would first be by sitting around a table and have breakfast.  Everybody will then be assigned roles to clear the breakfast area. The children will then talk about their feelings by sitting in a circle.  Here our pupils will be told what is expected to happen during the day.  Rules will always be said and reinforced.  The pupils will then start doing some literacy and numeracy as planned with their classroom teacher.  Here the children are encouraged to work silently and the nurture class teacher together with the learning support assistant monitor, assist and aid the pupils in all their individual needs.  The day will be followed either by story-telling or arts and crafts.  Free or structured play will then follow.  Both the teacher and the learning support assistant will play with the pupils accordingly.  Once a week a cookery session is also prepared and done.  All children participate eagerly during this activity and they will be delighted to taste their own food!  During lunch time children can also toast their own lunch and everyone eat together.

Rotary La Valette supports our Nurture ClassAt the end of the session we will evaluate our day and rewards will be given.  We will celebrate our success during circle time.  At times those pupils who truly behaved, can bring a friend from their class to stay for some time with us during a nurture group session.  In order for all this to happen, our students must feel safe and secure.  We work hard to encourage these feelings in our students through the ways in which we talk to them and by providing appropriate activities that help the children develop a sense of belonging to a group.

Since Scholastic Year 2008/2009 we have embarked on a whole school strategy making use of Jenny Mosley’s Quality Circle Time model.  This is a whole approach to setting up and maintaining a positive management system to:

ö   promoting positive relationships

ö   creating a caring and respectful ethos

ö   helping children develop their self-esteem and self-confidence

ö   providing efficient and effective systems and support for all staff

ö   creating great lunchtimes and playtimes

ö   nurturing the creativity in all people in school

ö   Promoting social and emotional development of all children

All classes were presented with a set of golden rules.  Emphasis was put on these rules every day, especially every Friday when the special Assemblies were organized.  The golden rules were displayed in all classrooms.

Representations between the school administration and higher personnel in the DES, thru’ the college Principal, started in January 2009.

A Professional Development Meeting for all members of the staff was organized in January 2009.  The animator was Ms. Brenda Cefai, a member of staff, who was reading for a masters degree in SEBD.  In May 2009, the head of school invited Dr. Carmel Cefai, from the University of Malta, for the whole day SDP Seminar.