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Support helps pupils flourish

Vicky Jackson, mother of Gemma, P2, who is now ready to leave the Cottage Garden, says: "When Gemma came to school, she had just been diagnosed with epilepsy. It knocked her confidence. She started to take quite a lot of 'absences' during class. When they happened, she was quite embarrassed.

"She's now on quite a high level of medication because she was having a lot of seizures.

"She just loves the Cottage Garden. It has brought the best out of her.

"When she went into the group, her main problem was confidence. She was a bit of a loner, which was quite a surprise because in nursery she seemed so confident and ready for school. When she arrived, things changed quite a lot. She used to stand back and would wait until everyone else had taken a pen before she would take one.

"In the playground, she relied too much on her brother. She was wanting to go with him all the time, but he was in P3.

"She found it quite hard to get to grips with the routine in school.

"Now she's completely different. She goes out and plays with everyone and is a lot more confident. It (the Cottage Garden) has brought her out of her shell.

"Her Dad's a bit like she was. He's spent most of his life fading into the background and being a loner. He's pleased that at least these things are getting picked up with Gemma."

Sadie Collins, mother of Thomas, who is now in P5 and was in the first Cottage Garden group, says: "I was concerned about Thomas starting school because his language and speech were slow. Up till the age of 4, he hardly said a word.

I was worried that, when he started school, he might get a slagging from the older ones.

"At the initial parents' meeting, the headteacher explained about the nurture group.

"He got attention on a one-to-one basis. It was great and his speech improved. He brought home ideas from the speech therapist. We got games to play, reading examples and loads of support from Mrs Gilchrist. I met with her quite regularly.

"He seemed to come on during P1 and into P2 and he could go back in if he had any problems.

"At the beginning, he did have a couple of behaviour problems, fitting in with the group. He was always losing his temper because anything he wanted to say would not come out. But they worked with him and encouraged him all the time and he came on leaps and bounds.

"He's still getting support for speech and language."

Caroline Darroch, Burnbrae Primary's headteacher, adds: "Additional support for learning is provided in the school, but that is more for Thomas's development in the curriculum, to help him with language work.

"He is a confident boy and no problem in terms of behaviour."

Thomas now sings in the choir.

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