An evidence based guide to opening a successful secondary school nurture group

This project aimed to explore what was needed to run a successful nurture group in a secondary school. It examined what a secondary nurture group could look like and what the challenges could be.

Phase 1

Twenty nine nurture practitioners took part in 8 focus groups, where guided discussions gathered views about setting up nurture groups in secondary settings.

Phase 2

The emerging themes from the focus groups were discussed with 4 nurture teams in order to gather practitioner views of the findings (interview data).

Key findings

  • A whole school approach to nurture that is driven by senior leaders is vital if the secondary school nurture group is to succeed.

  • A six month period of preparation, planning and training for all school staff should be considered before the nurture group opens to avoid misunderstandings and mistrust developing.

  • Once open, the operational features of the nurture group should include a flexible developmental curriculum, professional supervision for the nurture team and the collective courage to prioritise nurture sessions over all other curriculum areas.

  • Challenges will emerge if the whole school preparation for nurture is incomplete or if protection for the nurture group is breached.

‘Nurturing Schools: how school leaders can optimise relationships’ an article featured in Nasen Connect Magazine in September 2021 can be read here.

‘Tes focus on…nurture groups in secondary schools’ an article featured in the TES in April 2021 can be read here.

David Colley and Ruth Seymour

Time span
The initial research conference was held in 2018, published in 2021

The Mulberry Bush Development Fund

Download the report