We are currently working towards gaining our Nurturing School status through Nurture UK.
When we use the word ‘nurture’, we’re talking about the social factors that shape the development of children and young people: who they spend time with, instead of who they were born to.
Born from an understanding of how children learn and develop, a nurturing approach to learning addresses the impact of a pupil’s social environment on their emotional wellbeing, their social skills, and how ready they are to engage in school and the wider community.
By addressing the early nurturing experiences that pupils are missing, teachers can help them to develop the social skills they need to thrive, and the confidence and resilience to deal with whatever life throws at them – not just at school, but for the rest of their lives.
Our school programme is based on the six key principles of nurture that have successfully underpinned the Nurturing School approach approach for over 50 years.
The graduated approach to nurture
Our graduated approach to nurture ensures that every child in the school has the opportunity to flourish in their education. It ensures that every child has access to the support they need, when they need it.
Whether they enter the education system with early childhood trauma, or experience it during their time in education, we work to measure and support the social, emotional and mental health of all children, so no child falls through the cracks.
Our nurturing approach
To nurture means to care for and protect something or someone while it is growing.
We can all do this. Parents, carers, and other family members nurture children. Teachers and other school staff nurture their pupils. Maybe you nurture a younger sibling or a pet?
What does nurture do?
- Helps us to develop our social and emotional skills
- Supports us as we grow
- Builds our resilience and makes us feel better about ourselves
There are six principles that explain how nurture can help you and others:
1. Our learning is understood developmentally
We are all individuals. That means not everyone learns at the same rate or time.
It's important not to get too worried or frustrated if we get stuck at something. Try not to compare ourselves to others. It’s better to be patient and kind to ourselves. We try our best and are proud of what we can do.
At The Brent Primary School, formative assessment is embedded in daily practice. We monitor the summative progress of all pupils in reading, writing and maths termly, to review their academic progress and the impact of teaching, including interventions. We also use a range of assessments with all the pupils at various points, including Speech Link, Language Link, Year 1 phonics screening, Reading age. We recognise that not all of our pupil’s progress at the same rate and may need adaptations to be made to our curriculum.
Where progress is not sufficient, even if a special educational need has not yet been identified, we put in place extra support to enable the pupil to catch up. Examples of extra support are: Reading Recovery, Little Wandle Catch-Up interventions, Brent Reading Partners, one-to-one reading support, small group interventions, booster groups. We analyse and track attainment each term and use teacher assessment as a key part of this. In-depth knowledge of the pupils and their developmental stages underpins assessments.
2. The classroom offers a safe base
School should be a calm, safe environment for everyone.
Classrooms are designed to keep everyone healthy and safe and to reassure us while we are at school.
Our classrooms are safe places, and our staff are trusted adults. All members of the Brent staff wear a lanyard to identify them as such and our pupils know that anyone not wearing a visitor lanyard should be accompanied by a familiar member of staff. Pupils are encouraged to discuss their viewpoints in all classrooms, in all subject areas. They are reminded that the classroom is a safe forum in which to express themselves and their emotions are valued. Pupils often build a relationship with a key adult, with whom they feel comfortable and may seek when distressed, anxious or overwhelmed. We also have Break-Out spaces, where a pupil may go for time to self-regulate or discuss their feelings with a trusted adult. Our pupils arrive at school knowing that their opinions, viewpoints and personalities are accepted and respected in our school. Our rights and responsibilities are explored through whole class, phase and whole school assemblies as well as incidental discussions between adults and pupils, so that they understand the importance of respectful attitudes and conversations.
3. The importance of nurture for the development of wellbeing
Looking after ourselves and other people makes us feel good in mind and body.
One way of doing this is showing kindness. When we are kind to other people, it makes them feel happy. It is good for our health too.
Another example of nurture making us feel good is celebrating our achievements, no matter how small they might seem. When someone tells us we've done a good job, that makes us feel positive about ourselves. That's what nurture is all about.
Our Happy Mind and Jigsaw (PSHEE) curriculums are carefully planned to support the well-being of our pupils, because we feel that this underpins progress in other areas. A safe and nurturing environment is our priority, and we aim to develop a positive sense of well-being for all pupils. The staff carry out Emotional Check-Ins in the mornings and throughout the day to monitor pupils with SEMH needs. This can be new/emerging needs or on-going emotional difficulties. Small group and individual sessions are delivered by members of staff on a weekly basis for pupils with higher levels of need. We look to support our pupils to express their emotions to a trusted member of staff, using their words or visual prompts and regularly discuss how we are feeling and what this looks like.
Weekly celebration assemblies are held to recognise children’s achievements inside and outside of the classroom using our growth mindset language and our three Brent values: Respect, Responsibility, Resilience. Jigsaw certificates are awarded each week, nominated by the children in the class, for the child best demonstrating the Jigsaw value of the week.
4. Language is a vital means of communication
What we say to people tells them a lot about us and how we're feeling.
Talking to someone we trust, like a teacher or classroom assistant, about how we feel can help us to be understood and make us feel better too.
We assess our pupils on arrival in EYFS at the Brent, using Languagelink assessments, as we believe that communication, either verbal or through gesture or visuals, is key to progress within our curriculum. During our Foundation Stage, staff support all pupils through targeted support and incidental interactions within the environment. Adults are trained to support children who use sign language to communicate their needs.
Children throughout the school have access to Mental Wealth boxes in their classrooms which contain worry monsters. Children can place messages into the worry monster to alert staff to a concern or worry they have. In KS2 children also have Think Books which allows them to communicate their feelings and emotions with their classroom staff.
5. All behaviour is communication
It's not always easy to express how we feel in words. The way we behave towards other people says a lot about how we're feeling.
If someone in our class is misbehaving or not listening to the teacher's instructions, it's helpful to ask ourselves:
- How might they be feeling?
- Why might they be behaving that way?
- Are they feeling angry or frustrated? Or upset?
When we try to put ourselves in other people's shoes and imagine how they are feeling, this is called empathy.
We see that our pupils communicate through their actions as well as their words. Some of our pupils react by leaving a stressful environment when they are feeling overwhelmed, but they struggle to express their emotions in words. We provide the space to calm down and different strategies to allow children to take control of their emotions. In EYFS and throughout KS1 there are emotion cards on the wall that children can use to help them to explain how they feel. These same cards are used in the inside of the children’s Think Books to support them higher up the school.
6. The importance of transition in our lives
Change happens all the time. It can be exciting, but it can also be scary.
There have been lots of changes in the last few years because of coronavirus and lockdown.
Being back at school and spending time with our classmates after being at home for months can be enjoyable but it can also be challenging.
Remember, it's good to talk to people we trust about how were feeling about any changes.
We aim to prepare our pupils for all transitions within school, from changes to the daily routine or staffing changes, to moving to a new class or secondary school. We use visual timetables or transition booklets, discussions with the pupil, visits to the new room or school and conversations with parents or carers.
Some of the Nurturing approaches we use at The Brent School are:
- Building positive relationships with adults and staff
- Feeling Charts/Think Books
- Breakfast provided to all children.
- Weekly awards and celebration assemblies’
- Regular after school clubs available to all
- Lego Therapy
- Sensory Circuits
- Next Sensory Room time
- Resilience Room time