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A study of nurture groups as a window into school relationships

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>4/01/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>The International Journal of Nurture in Education
Volume2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)7-14
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This narrative account describes approaches to sanctions in primary school settings that also provide Nurture Groups, and the ways in which different approaches may be viewed as helpful or harmful to children’s behaviour and to Nurture Group provision. It draws from research conducted as part of a larger comparative Nurture Group study examining whole school aspects of NG provision in seven case study schools. The three most successful settings within the study had relationships at their core, and a de-emphasis on sanction systems. They had an ideological leaning away from any kind of ‘will to punish’, and a leaning towards social relationships and Restorative Justice. In contrast the least successful settings tended towards social control and sanction systems that provided a sharp contrast between the contexts of nurture and mainstream. Overall it is concluded that in order to avoid harmful and counter-productive effects, sanctions in schools need to be individualised and they need to make sense. In addition, they need to be proportional, non-confrontational and educational. Under these conditions sanctions do not preclude social engagement or represent a punitive and reactionary response. However, it is the
relational ecology of the school that dictates whether a punitive strategy of control, or a
nurturing strategy of ongoing social engagement is sought overall. Nurture Groups can provide us with a useful way to model complementary aspects of Restorative Justice, as both NG and RJ philosophies are based on a will to develop, maintain, repair and sustain attachments.