At Eastchurch C E P School we know that we have significant challenges on our hands in terms of the wellbeing of our young people and a disadvantaged group related attainment gap. Overall, we recognise that wellbeing and attainment are inextricably linked, and we know that teacher/pupil relationships and school/teacher “connectedness” are hugely important for good outcomes. We also know that children from disadvantaged and vulnerable groups are at risk of a low sense of wellbeing and academic success.
We understand that the increasingly influential John Hattie has pinpointed non-directivity, empathy and warmth as the top 3 teacher characteristics (with the highest effect sizes) that support achievement.
When you consider the wide literature about resilience there is further support. Studies have found that resilience in schools is developed by supportive relationships (including bonding with children), high expectations with clear and consistent boundaries, opportunities to participate and contribute and explicitly teaching social and emotional skills. (Roffey).
Nurture is founded on sound psychological principles and helps us take a holistic approach to the child. The Curriculum for Excellence, as well as GIRFEC, and the promotion of health and wellbeing as the responsibility for all, ensures promoting good “affective” outcomes for children is a high priority and we cannot lose sight of that as we search to close the disadvantaged attainment gap.
We also are able to identify what does not work; zero tolerance approaches and approaches that overly rely on punitive/ behavioural approaches contribute to disengagement and children being pushed out or pulled out of our system. So nurture has much to offer if thoroughly understood and implemented. This has been researched at length and can be cited in the works of authors who have looked at ‘relational pedagogy’ (Boyd et al) or ‘connective instruction’ (Martin and Dowson); highlighting that teachers who ‘frame practice in relational terms are more likely to foster motivated, engaged and achieving students’.
At Eastchurch C E P School the children start the day at 8.30 by entering the class and choosing a pre-selected activity that they wish to engage in. These activities will promote social interaction, language, relationship skills and independence; alongside a calm and safe atmosphere to begin their day.
The staff will then proactively teach, shape and model social and emotional learning, focussing on the communication and language they use. This means that all children feel:
• they belong here
• they are welcome here
• we like them
• they are safe here
• they can explore and learn
• their feelings are okay with us
• they can work with us on this problem that is getting in the way right now
• we will be thinking about them and keeping them in mind
Adults will model social interactions and behaviour for learning alongside enabling pupils to self-select activities of their choice. Adults will provide enabling environments where there is a choice of different activities; some of which will be linked directly to current learning within the class and others which are around mindfulness and emotional regulation.