Nurture groups in an S1 setting

here have been a number of initiatives in recent years to help the pupils who struggle most when they enter secondary. Eastbank Academy in Glasgow was one of the first to use primary teachers to teach literacy and numeracy to the lowest attainers; Kemnay Academy in Aberdeenshire is trying to employ a primary-trained teacher for selected S1 pupils to give them the curricular support and teaching approaches they receive in primary.

Now, however, the headteacher of Springburn Academy, one of the designated "schools of ambition", is trying to nurture these vulnerable pupils' social and behavioural needs as well as meet their learning requirements. The enhanced support group the school is initiating this year is a nurture class in all but name. Glasgow has taken the nurture group model further than most authorities in Scotland, although it has been adopted relatively widely in England over the past 30 years.

The benefits of nurture groups, with their targeted support for small groups of children when they enter primary, have been widely acknowledged - by teachers themselves, but also by parents. The task for secondary teachers will be greater because such initiatives tend to yield the best results in a child's earliest years.

But no action is no option and if this can make a difference, it will be worth it. Otherwise, these pupils will fall into the NEET trap - not in employment, education or training. Their problem is at the top of the educational agenda: it must not become a growing one.

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