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St John's Nurture Provision - The Orchard

The Orchard is an invaluable resource at St John's C of E Primary School. It provides a An early intervention for children as part of Surrey’s Mental Health, Behaviour and Emotional Well-Being Strategy.

The Orchard is an in-school, teacher-led psychosocial intervention for groups of up to 8 pupils that effectively replace missing or distorted early nurturing experiences for children. They achieve this by immersing students in an accepting and warm environment which helps develop positive relationships with both teachers and peers.

The small size of group means that each child can have an individualised timetable to support specific areas of social, emotional and behavioural needs.

As the children begin to develop strategies to deal with their emotions and the barriers to learning are overcome, the nurture group will also start to target specific areas of academic needs.

Our specially trained staff work with individual children or small groups to address socialisation issues that are common in some primary school children. The sessions are fun and informative, using activities and resources designed to motivate, engage and support the children.


  • To understand each individual child's needs

  • To help each child realise their potential

  • To provide strategies to help each child now and in the future

Children are usually referred to the Orchard by their class teacher but referrals can also be submitted by senior staff members.

The Six Principles Of Nurture


The Nurture groups run on a set of principles. The Nurture group principles are;


  • Children's learning is understood developmentally

  • The importance of nurture for the development of wellbeing

  • All behaviour is communication

  • The classroom offers a safe base

  • Language is a vital means of communication

  • The importance of transition in children's lives

How long will my child be in The Orchard for?

Children will attend on a part-time basis for an average of 2 to 4 terms. However we ensure that the children do not miss special times such as; guests in school, outings or anything else that may be different from the normal routine of the week.

When does my child go to The Orchard?

The groups run for four mornings a week ensuring the children remain valued members of their mainstream class and school as well as belonging to the nurture group

What Is A Nurture Group?

Nurture groups are founded on evidence-based practices and offer a short-term, inclusive, focused intervention that works in the long term. Nurture groups are classes of between six and 12 children or young people in early years, primary or secondary settings supported by the whole staff group and parents. Each group is run by two members of staff. Children attend nurture groups but remain an active part of their main class group, spend appropriate times within the nurture group according to their need and typically return full time to their own class within two to four terms. Nurture groups assess learning and social and emotional needs and give whatever help is needed to remove the barriers to learning. There is great emphasis on language development and communication. Nothing is taken for granted and everything is explained, supported by role modelling, demonstration and the use of gesture as appropriate. The relationship between the two staff, always nurturing and supportive, provides a role model that children observe and begin to copy. Food is shared at ‘breakfast’ or ‘snack time’ with much opportunity for social learning, helping children to attend to the needs of others, with time to listen and be listened to.

As the children learn academically and socially they develop confidence, become responsive to others, learn self-respect and take pride in behaving well and in achieving. Nurture groups have been working successfully for more than 40 years in the UK and now in other countries including Canada, New Zealand and Romania, and have been praised, supported and recommended by organisations such as Ofsted, Estyn and HMIE.

What does research say about Nurture Groups?

Nurture Groups help create positive change to SEBD in school and at home ( Binnie & Allen, 2008) allow for a positive attachment to school (Walker, 2010) Nurture Groups help develop affective bonds between teachers and students, reduce exclusions and help create a whole school nurturing ethos. (Cooper & Whitebread 2007) Nurture Groups significantly reduce exclusions and lower truancy. (Cooper 2011) Students with SEBD are significantly more likely to improve in social and emotional functioning by attending Nurture Group provision than remaining in their mainstream classroom. These gains were also found to be maintained over time. (O’Connor and Colwell’s 2002) Children attending Nurture Groups showed significant gains in academic attainment as measured by their total scores on their baselines. (Reynolds et al. 2009: Seth-Smith et al, 2010). This included metacognitions skills (Gerrard) and language and literacy skills (Hosie, 2013).

Nurture Groups in National Policy (by order of appearance):

The Warnock Report (1978):


Green Paper: Excellence for All Children (1997):


The Steer Report (2005):


The Healthy Schools Toolkit (2012):

The Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools Report (2014):

Mind the Gap: Tackling Education Inequality in Scotland (2014):


Inclusion and Pupil Support Guidance (2006):


Nurture groups: a handbook for schools (2010):

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