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St. Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn, Derry City

Nurture Class

What is a nurture group?

A nurture group is a safe haven within the school for children who find a school day too long, too hard, too confusing, too difficult and too much.  It provides a bridge between home and school. 

It is a family environment in a classroom where the children find comfort, encouragement, empathy and support which will help settle them into their mainstream class.  Our nurture group will be made up of a small group of children from primaries 1, 2 and 3 (no more than 8 children in our first year of operating).  The room has:

  • a kitchen area and dining table to share breakfast/snacks;
  • a home area with soft furnishings;
  • a play area;
  • an area set aside for formal learning.

Research shows that children’s learning is most effective when they have a sense of emotional wellbeing, good self-esteem and a feeling of belonging. 

The nurture room is a place where children can learn in a more relaxed and practical environment.  The nurture group mirrors the learning taking place in the classroom but allows children to discuss and question the tasks in more depth and at their own pace.  As the children learn socially and academically, their confidence develops and their sense of achievement increases.

Children will spend four days per week in the nurture group.  A set routine allows the children to know what they will be doing each day.  Children will start and end the day with their main class and take part in all school activities (eg PE, assembly, school trips etc).

Our nurture group is run by a qualified teacher (Mrs Dawn Adlard) and classroom assistant (Mrs Carol Ann Johnston) who have both been trained in nurture theory and practice.

Which children attend the nurture group?

Children may attend sessions in the nurture group when there are possible barriers to their learning.  For example: 

  • Friendship difficulties – making/keeping friends
  • Quiet, shy, withdrawn
  • Find it hard to listen to others or join in
  • Disruptive towards others
  • Find it hard to accept losing a game
  • Find it hard to share and take turns
  • Find it difficult to settle into class
  • Bullying
  • Low self esteem
  • Poor relationships with adults in school
  • Bereavement
  • Family illness or break-up
How will nurture help my child?

Nurture group will boost confidence and self-esteem and provide children with the extra help sometimes needed to improve social skills and independence.  For example: 

  • To join in
  • To settle
  • To listen
  • To concentrate
  • To share and take turns
  • To accept losing a game
  • To build up friendships with their classmates
  • To build resilience
  • To encourage a more positive profile among their peers and staff
  • To feel confident to carry out literacy, maths and other curricular tasks
How are the children selected?

If the class teacher considers that a pupil may benefit from being in the nurture group, an assessment will be carried out by nurture staff and the application will go to a selection panel.  Parents will always be involved before and after a child joins the group.

When will my child return to the main class?

Nurture provision will usually be for between 2 and 4 terms, depending on the child’s needs.  The nurture group teacher and the main class teacher will work closely to ensure a smooth return to the child’s main class, which could be gradual or quick, depending on progress.



Class Photograph