Nurture groups are founded on evidence-based practices and offer a short-term, inclusive, focused intervention that works in the long term. Our Nurture groups are classes of between six and 12 learners in a setting that is supported by staff groups that stay the same for most of the curriculum delivery (i.e. like a “primary” model, ensuring a consistent approach to teaching and learning). Children attend nurture groups but remain an active part of the main school, spend appropriate times with the main body of school according to their needs and typically interact with peers across the school. Nurture groups place an emphasis on learning and social and emotional needs; giving the necessary help to remove the barriers to learning. There is a great emphasis on language development and communication. Nothing is taken for granted and everything is explained, supported by role modelling, demonstration and the use of gesture as appropriate. The relationship between the teacher, always nurturing and supportive, provides a role model that children observe and begin to copy. Food is shared at breakfast and/or lunchtime with many opportunities for social learning, helping children to attend to the needs of others, with time to listen and be listened to. As the children learn academically and socially they develop confidence, become responsive to others, learn self-respect and take pride in behaving well and in achieving.
For the whole school, we have embedded the vision and values of our Parenting strategy (developed in 2015 by Trinity Academy Newcastle Multi-Academy Trust) throughout the curriculum and beyond. Through our experience, and grounded in research, the Parenting strategy highlights values of parenting combined with strong school involvement and school support, transforming learners and young peoples’ lives, consequently having a positive impact on outcomes for adult life – the destination outcomes have improved from 60% progression in 2016 to 92% in 2018 at Trinity Academy Newcastle.
We strive to create classroom environments that cultivate an atmosphere of freedom where bias can be challenged, contributions around equality and personal values are promoted. This facilitates an innovative sense of school society, allowing learners a level of autonomy over their education at the same time as providing guidance and nurturing essential skills such as social awareness, accountability, diversity, cultural and democratic consciousness, and human rights and interpersonal skills.
Parenting encompasses everything we do both in and out of the classroom, involving the staff, learners, and parents to provide a climate for education, which removes barriers to learning and facilitates achievement. Inside the classroom, we embed elements of PREPARE into all sessions. PREPARE is featured prominently on at least one display in every classroom. PREPARE is an acronym for positive relationships, resilience, empathy, praise, articulate, responsibility and evaluation, which embodies the core values of parenting, placing personal development skills at the centre of everything we do. Building resilience in young people is recognised both by literature and government guidance to assist young people in dealing with adversity through life by the development of protective factors.
Furthermore, we have accessed evidence-based interventions, such as the Friends Resilience programme delivered by Ruth Whiteside for Children’s Emotional Language & Thinking, to build positive relationships amongst peer groups and to recognise own emotions, this means the Trust now has 5 licensed Resilience facilitators. The FRIENDS programs are endorsed by the World Health Organisation, and supported by the Department of Education (2016) within their Guidance for Schools as well as within Public Health Guidance. Furthermore, the FRIENDS programs are the second most used intervention globally for building resilience and supporting children's mental wellbeing.
The PREPARE acronym links well with the Friends Resilience program, embedding positive areas for personal growth in every lesson. Praise is used throughout, allowing the learners to build self-confidence and esteem by receiving rewards for achievement, participating, building self-compassion when facing setbacks, creating a healthy way of relating to their own positive self-regard. Empathy is used not only to develop morality but also to reduce bullying.
This approach helps create a growth mindset by providing a realisation that the learners are in control of their progress, delivering high expectations and removing social barriers. The focus on articulation not only helps speech and language development but also combats the reduced vocabulary which learners from low socioeconomic backgrounds are believed to possess. We encourage learners to evaluate their choices through self-reflection, which assists in developing metacognition skills facilitating their ability to learn.
Outside the classroom, the parenting ethos influences interactions between staff, learners and parents. These interactions are conducted in a calm and honest manner, with kindness at the centre. Whilst weekly ‘Magic Friday’ celebrations facilitate recognition and praise for achievements, taking part and showing resilience. This allows learners to encourage and support each other whilst building positive relationships. This is an important skill, which we believe learners must learn to begin their journey into further education, training and/or employment. Furthermore, the parenting ethos links with principles of trauma-informed approaches; allowing a safe environment where trustworthiness and transparency are valued, whilst peer support and collaboration are used to empower both learners and their families to have a voice and the strength to make their own choices.
We are providing training to two members of staff to become youth mental health first aiders, to support the mental health of learners and their families. We also provide evidence-based CPD around neurodiversity, bereavement, loss, and a range of other mental health difficulties they may face. We develop a stigma-free environment to assist in help-seeking behaviours, reducing both physical and cyberbullying and a diverse atmosphere where all, including LGBTQ+ learners, can be free to learn. The Trust has recently gained a bronze mental health quality award.
Effective safeguarding, protection against extremism, personal and online safety, the promotion of Fundamental British Values and community cohesion are feature heavily in the school’s wider curriculum offer.
The parenting strategy uses a range of initiatives and activities that promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of young people. We do this through the wider learning opportunities, including tutor time, assemblies, drop-down days, the use of guest speakers and transition events.
Careers education and progression routes are also a key part of the commitment to preparing the learners for the future. Lessons and learning experiences are planned to make explicit links to careers and employment opportunities.