An Evaluation of the Impact of Nurture Provision upon Young Children, Including their Language and their Literacy Skills

Prof Doc Thesis

Hosie, Claire 2013. An Evaluation of the Impact of Nurture Provision upon Young Children, Including their Language and their Literacy Skills. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHosie, Claire
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Nurture groups are a form of educational provision to support children with
social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). Their main aim is to
provide children with the basic social and emotional skills, in order to facilitate
learning, through the development of secure attachments in an educational
setting (Boxall, 2002; Cooke, Yeomans & Parkes, 2008). The evidence base
pertaining to nurture groups in relation to learning and academic outcomes
remains relatively limited. A review of the literature highlighted the lack of
previous research investigating the impact of nurture groups upon children’s
language development, whilst access to the child’s voice remained limited. This
research aimed to evaluate the impact of newly established, variant nurture
groups upon a group of young children, including their language and literacy
skills. In addition, the researcher used a range of methods in order to access
the views of these children to assist in fully understanding the impact of nurture
Undertaken from a Critical Realist position, this evaluation study employed a
mixed-methods design to consider both the outcomes and processes pertaining
to nurture groups and academic outcomes. Quantitative measures were utilised
to consider the effects of nurture groups upon children’s language and literacy
skills, collected both upon entry to the nurture group and again eight months
later. For this aspect of the research data was collected from 16 participants,
accessing two different nurture groups and ranging in age from 5 years and 9
months to 9 years and 2 months. To contextualise the data, semi-structured
interviews were undertaken with the children, to explore their experiences of
nurture groups and support understanding of the intervening processes
affecting children’s learning. A total of 8 participants, half of the original cohort,
contributed to this phase. Four participants were drawn from each school and
the final sample consisted of three girls and five boys, drawn from key stages
one and two.
Findings demonstrated that the children’s language and literacy skills showed
improvement following access to the nurture group. Whilst this was not always at a significant level, some progress was evident, although the results should be
interpreted with caution due to the small sample size and the variance within the
group. The qualitative data provided further evidence to support these results,
identifying that children perceived a positive impact upon their language and
literacy skills, whilst a change was also apparent in their confidence and their
readiness to learn. Supportive and valued features of the nurture groups were
identified which can be linked to key elements of the provision, suggesting the
importance of developing attachment relationships and social interaction for
facilitating learning. The findings are important in highlighting the potential of
nurture groups for improving academic attainment alongside social and
emotional development and Educational Psychologists are well placed to
encourage understanding of the role of nurture groups in laying the foundations
for learning, supporting schools to develop nurture groups as an effective
provision for children with complex social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintMay 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Jan 2014
Publisher's version
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