NURTURE GROUPS AND ELSA PROVISION AT ST. PATRICK'S CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me —put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Mrs Joanne Smith
Nurture Teacher and ELSA Teacher (Emotional Literacy Support)
Mrs Smith is the nurture teacher and ELSA here at St. Patrick’s Catholic Primary School. Her role is to support the emotional needs of children those that may be experiencing difficulties.This includes developing team building, self-esteem, friendships, social skills, anger management and understanding emotions.
What is a nurture group?
A nurture group address children’s social, behavioural and emotional needs that could otherwise become long term barriers to learning and attainment.
Nurture groups are a short term, focused intervention strategy. We typically focus on younger children in Years 1 and 2, and the group is kept small – around 6 children.
Children remain an active part of their main class and will attend nurture in the afternoons 2-3 times a week. They will typically return full time to their own class within 1-3 terms, according to need.
The group is designed to help children develop vital social skills, to develop confidence and self-respect, and to take pride in behaving well and in achieving.
The group also give children vital opportunities for social learning, for example, by encouraging them to share food at snack time, and to help others in the group.
In nurture groups, there’s a special emphasis on language development and communication. Children are given the time they need both to listen and be listened to.
What is the impact of nurture?
- Nurture groups develop children's confidence and self-esteem;
- Children become better at managing emotions and empathising with others, and form more positive relationships with peers and teachers;
- Children enjoy school more, and overall attendance increases;
- Academic performance increases;
- Behaviour significantly improves, and there is a reduction in the number of suspensions;
- Parent-child relationships improve;
- It contributes to our whole school nurturing and Catholic ethos.
Our schools’ Living and Learning statements help to embed nurturing principles:
Children are at different stages of development and need to be responded to at their developmental level. We respond to to children ‘just as they are’, with a non-judgemental and accepting attitude, and this helps them to feel safe and secure.
Listen and Discuss (Communication)
It is important for children and young people to be able to understand and express their thoughts and feelings. Nurture involves listening and responding. Children often ‘act out’ their feelings as they lack the vocabulary to name how they feel. Talking and sharing teaches language skills. Words are used instead of actions to express feelings, and imaginative play is used to help children understand the feelings of others. Adults model how to share feelings and experiences.
The nurture teacher engages with pupils in reciprocal shared activities. Children respond to being valued and thought about as individuals. This involves noticing and praising small achievements. Achievements and attainments are celebrated, and we encourage the children to recognise each other’s achievements.
Confidence and Independence
Routines are explained and practised, and there are clear expectations. This help to reduce anxiety as the children can be confident in knowing what will happen next. When the children feel safe and secure, and in control, they can then focus on developing their independent skills, building self-identity, self-esteem and confidence.
Children and young people experience many transitions throughout their lives, and on a daily basis. Changes in routine are invariably difficult for some children, and school helps the child to transition with carefully managed preparation and support. Staff understand the emotions that may be triggered by both small and large changes.
What tool do we use to assess the children?
At St. Patrick’s we use ‘The Boxall Profile’ to assess the social, emotional, and behavioural improvement of the children. The profile gives an accurate picture of the children’s strengths, as well as any difficulties that may be affecting their learning.
The Boxhall Profile:
- Helps teachers to develop personal, achievable goals that reinforce behaviours and skills in children;
- Helps staff to plan practical strategies and techniques;
- Helps in the development of a support plan, keeping in view the needs of every child.
- Helps to give an accurate picture of children's strengths, as well as any difficulties that may be affecting their learning.
(Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)
What is ELSA?
The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) intervention builds the capacity of our school to support the emotional needs of our pupils. Our ELSA has been trained to develop and deliver individualised support programmes to meet the emotional needs of children. Children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. Our ELSA is supported by educational psychologists from our Local Authority; they provide on-going professional supervision to help maintain high quality in the work undertaken by our ELSA, thereby helping to ensure safe practice.
How is ELSA delivered?
The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work is appropriate, especially for social and friendship skills. Children identified will access ELSA once a week.
The priorities for an individual pupil will be identified in discussion with other staff in the school and the priorities inform the setting of aims for the programme. Children also have input on target setting.
Our ELSA plans support sessions to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively. Each session has its own objective that builds towards longer term aims.
How long does ELSA intervention last?
ELSA intervention is time-limited to assist the development of specific skills, usually up to a term, but this can vary. Some group work may be delivered in 6 or 7 weeks, individual programmes may require longer in order to establish the trusting relationship necessary for pupils to share. Since every pupil’s needs are different, therefore we do not ‘cut-off’ ELSA intervention, as insufficient time could severely limit what the support may otherwise achieve.