National Nurturing School
Currajong is accredited as a National Nurturing School through Nurture UK. The National Nurturing Schools Programme is a programme that allows staff to develop personally and professionally whilst embedding a nurturing culture throughout their schools, enhancing teaching and learning, promoting healthy outcomes for children and young people. This is achieved by focusing on emotional needs and development as well as academic learning in a whole school environment. The programme is based on the six principles of nurture that have successfully underpinned nurture groups for over 40 years.
Nurturing schools are founded upon six basic principles of Nurture. Underlying these principles is the development of trusting relationships between staff and children and also between children and children.
1. Children’s learning is understood developmentally
In nurturing schools, staff respond to children not in terms of arbitrary expectations about ‘attainment levels’ but in terms of the children’s developmental progress assessed through the Boxall Profile Handbook which offers a structured framework for the observation of a child’s
behavioural, social and cognitive engagement in classrooms. The response to the individual child is ‘as they are,’ underpinned by a non-judgmental and accepting attitude.
2. The classroom offers a safe base
The organisation of the environment and the way the school is managed is done in a way that diminishes anxiety. The classrooms offer experiences aimed at supporting the development of the children’s relationship with each other and with the staff. The nurture group is organised around a structured day with predictable routines.
3. Nurture is important for the development of self-esteem
Nurture involves listening and responding. In a nurturing school ‘everything is verbalized’ with an emphasis on the adults engaging with the children in reciprocal shared activities, for example, in play and when reading or talking about events and feelings. Children respond to being valued and thought of as individuals; thus, in practice, this involves noticing and praising small achievements.
4. Language is understood as a vital means of communication
Language is seen as more than a skill to be learned. It is the way of putting feelings into words. Children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties often ‘act out’ their feelings as they lack the vocabulary to ‘name’ how they feel. In nurturing schools, the informal opportunities for talking and sharing, for example, welcoming the children into the class is important as the more formal lessons for teaching language skills. Words are used instead of actions to express feelings and opportunities are created for extended conversations or encouragement.
5. All behaviour is communication
This principle underlies the adult response to the children’s often challenging or difficult behaviour. ‘Given what I know about this child and his 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.
6. Transitions are significant in the lives of children
Nurturing schools help children make the difficult transition from home to school. Moreover, every day children have to make numerous transitions, for example, between sessions and classes and between different adults. Changes in routine are invariably difficult for vulnerable children and need to be managed with careful preparation and support.