8.1 Nurture groups in primary schools
Nurture groups are increasingly being used to offer short-term support to children who are experiencing social and emotional difficulties. Nurture groups are described as:
The classic model for Nurture Groups involve classes of about 10–12 children, typically in the first few years of primary school, and staffed by a teacher and teaching/classroom assistant. The aim of the Groups is to provide children with a carefully planned, safe environment in which to build an attachment relationship with a consistent and reliable adult.
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Education funds nurture groups, and in the evaluation of nurture groups carried out by Queen’s University, they state:
This evaluation found clear evidence that Nurture Group provision in Northern Ireland is highly successful in its primary aim of achieving improvements in the social, emotional and behavioural skills of children from deprived areas exhibiting significant difficulties.
Part of the aim of nurture groups and other early intervention approaches is to give children opportunities to develop resilience, but what is this and why is it so important for good mental health?