At Thurso High School we work together to support the wellbeing of all our pupils with a Nurture Programme.
At the heart of Nurture is a focus on wellbeing and relationships and a drive to support the growth and development of young people, many of whom come from areas of disadvantage and require additional targeted support. A nurturing approach has been promoted as a key approach to supporting behaviour, wellbeing, attainment and achievement in Scottish schools. We have been working very hard as a school to build Nurture into our everyday practice.
A nurturing approach recognises that positive relationships are central to both learning and wellbeing and it can be applied at both the universal and targeted level and promotes inclusive, respectful relationships across the whole school community, including learners, staff, parents/carers and partners. A key aspect is an understanding of attachment theory and how early experiences can have a significant impact on development. It recognises that all school staff have a role to play in establishing the positive relationships that are required to promote healthy social and emotional development and that these relationships should be reliable, predictable and consistent where possible. It is based on the understanding of 6 Nurturing Principles which have been adapted and are outlined below:
Children’s learning is understood developmentally (NP 1)
Nurturing schools have a high level of staff awareness and training about attachment and brain development. The practice of staff will reflect the belief that nurturing relationships bring about meaningful change. Nurturing schools understand where children and young people are developmentally, and offer differentiated opportunities for social and emotional learning of specific skills. Nurturing relationships are modelled by staff and respectful, consistent and positive interactions are clearly identified as the appropriate communication style within the establishment. Expectations are reviewed in the light of what we know about an individual’s development and appropriately challenging targets are set for progress and shared with all staff who work with the young person.
The environment offers a safe base (NP 2)
There is a welcoming and safe environment for all, that is, parents/carers, pupils and staff, which encompasses all areas of the school, inside and out. Boundaries are set and delivered clearly, fairly and with sensitivity (emotional warmth). There will be consistent evidence of highly attuned de-escalation practice during high stress situations, including use of positive body language, minimal use of language, body space awareness and appropriate use of tone and volume, and avoiding escalation traps. There is good provision of safe spaces, inside and out, to support emotional regulation and feelings of safety and security. Based on individual needs of young people, additional structure and supervision is provided by staff across the school, including at key times and in key areas. The establishment is sensitive in maintaining and promoting key nurturing relationships for the most vulnerable pupils across the establishment, for example by giving key time with a specific staff member.
The importance of nurture for the development of wellbeing (NP3)
Understanding the child’s internal working model of themselves, others and the world. ie their view of themselves. Importance of modelling and shaping through positive behaviour management. Support and challenge, Valued as individuals, Feedback / praise, Know their next steps – know how to improve/move forward, Safe to make mistakes, Feel their voice is valued and worthwhile – pupil consultation
Language is a vital means of communication (NP 4)
All staff, young people work from a model of nurturing relationships, which clearly identifies respectful, consistent and positive interactions as the appropriate communication style within the establishment. Specific, positive, expected behaviours: listening, showing empathy, caring and having positive regard - are named and modelled explicitly by staff. Young people are given the appropriate level of support and challenge to develop these behaviours. Young people are helped to understand and express their feelings and given the opportunity for extended conversations if needed. The language used suits the developmental needs of the child.
All behaviour is communication (NP 5)
‘Given what I know about this child and their development what is this child trying to tell me?‘
Understanding what a child is communicating through behaviour helps staff to respond in a firm but non-punitive way by not being provoked or discouraged. If the child can sense that their feelings are understood this can help to diffuse difficult situations. The adult makes the link between the external / internal worlds of the child. Staff are supported to show high level of awareness of their own emotions and how this links to their communication behaviour. The overall approach should aim to be restorative “in essence”
Transitions are important in children and young people’s lives (NP 6)
There is a high level of awareness of transitions and disruptions in the lives of young people, in planning and providing for the meeting of needs. Transition points, internal and external, are well managed. Appropriate information is shared and, where necessary, there is high quality agency and family work. There are clear welcome routines at transition points: At the start of classes/sessions, at the start of the day & at the start of term. Where appropriate, there are opportunities to touch base with key staff early in the day.