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School's nature group secures 'gold' quality award

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

School's nurture group secures 'gold' quality award

Fairfield Junior School’s nurture group, the Sunshine Room, is the latest in the Island to gain the prestigious Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award.

The award from the Nurture Group Network UK recognises the highest quality of practice. It is named after Marjorie Boxall, an educational psychologist who worked in inner London schools in the 1970s and founded the principles of nurture groups in response to the challenges presented by the children she worked with.

Nurture groups are small, homely classes that offer children a safe, secure environment with a tailor-made curriculum and a carefully planned routine – usually for just part of the school week and over only two or three terms, explained Dave Colley, Special Educational Needs Adviser. The emphasis is on addressing ‘missed experiences’ in early life and developing trust and self-worth that promote learning.

Ian Walmsley, Headteacher at 130-pupil Fairfield, said:

‘The Sunshine Room is an integral part of our school. It offers support for children who, for whatever reason, are not thriving in the mainstream class. ‘Nurture staff work with the children in order to help them become more confident and settled so that they can return to their class as soon as they are ready. Parents are always consulted and involved if their child accesses the facility. ‘Staff in the Sunshine Room plan closely with mainstream teachers to ensure that academic work is not missed but also plan their own sessions such as “circle time” and specific confidence-building and friendship activities to help ensure that the children are ready for the day’s learning. ‘The impact of the nurture facility can be felt through the whole school,’ Mr Walmsley said. ‘I am proud of all that the staff have achieved in creating such a great additional learning resource and proud of pupils’ achievements as a result of this work.’

To date, nine of the 11 nurture groups in primary schools have achieved the ‘gold standard’ for nurture practice represented by the Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award.

To gain it, nurture teams submit to Nurture Group Network UK a detailed file of evidence that records the quality of their provision over a significant period. Groups are then rigorously assessed by external assessors.

Zac Hall MHK, a Member of the Department of Education and Children, today attended the school to present the award at a special assembly, handing it to Louise Blythe and Sarah Strickett, who run the Sunshine Room.

Mr Hall said:

‘I cannot help think how lucky the children are to belong to a school community that recognises the importance of nurture for increasing their self-esteem and has an authentic approach to working with them and their parents.

‘I would like to congratulate all involved in this fantastic achievement. It is an award that you should all be so proud of. It’s a true reflection not only of the hard work of the children, but also of the dedication and determination of the staff. It proves that nurture works. It has the power to change lives and give hope. A vision where everyone has the chance to live up to his or her dreams, where we are growing together, not growing apart. Because every child deserves a chance, every adult has a role to play and we all do better when we work together; where we shed ideas that don't work and embrace those that do.’

Zac Hall MHK, Member of the Department of Education and Children, presents Louise Blythe (left) and Sarah Strickett, both Senior Education Support Officers in Fairfield Junior School’s Sunshine Room, with the Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award at an assembly today

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