The Musketeers takes place in ‘The Den’ and is run by our qualified nurture practitioners Mrs Laird and Miss Spencer. The group has been running since September 2016 and we are very proud to be able to provide such support to our Musketeers at Edlesborough School.
Who are the Musketeers?
The Musketeers are based on the philosophy of ‘Nurture’ and groups which are devised drawing on the principles established by the work of Marjorie Boxall.
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. 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 ‘toast 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. Nurture groups have been praised, supported and recommended by organisations such as Ofsted, Estyn and HMIE.
The Nurture Group Principles:
- Children’s learning is understood developmentally
- The classroom offers a safe base
- All behaviour is communication
- The importance of transition in children's lives
- Has an adult/child ratio of 1:3, and provides lots of opportunities for speaking and listening activities
- Builds a child’s self-esteem and confidence
- Builds skills for classroom learning
- Sessions include crafts, games, a ‘mini-tea’ and more!
- Language is a vital means of communication
Children are invited to join the group by the school's SENCO or their class teacher and may attend sessions for varying reasons, for example:
- Friendship difficulties – keeping/making friends
- Quiet, shy, withdrawn
- Find it hard to listen to others or join in
- Disruptive towards others
- Find it hard to accept losing a game
- Find it hard to share and take turns
- Find it a bit difficult to settle into class
- Low self esteem
- Poor relationships with adults in school
- Family illness or break-up
We aim to boost confidence and self-esteem and provide children with the extra help sometimes needed to improve social skills and independence for example:
- To join in
- To settle
- To listen
- To concentrate
- To share and take turns
- To accept losing a game
- To build up friendships with their classmates
Children usually attend one afternoon a week for a period of one term. However, we ensure that the children do not miss special assemblies, guests in school, outings or anything else that may be different from the normal routine of the week.
We like to consider our door as always open and therefore welcome parent/carers to visit. Special event invitations are sent out to join us for example; open afternoon, afternoon tea or simply for a chat.
At the end of the group we hold a special graduation ceremony where the children share and celebrate their time in Nurture. Just because they have graduated however, doesn’t mean we forget them, they are reminded they are always welcome to join us for ‘crisps and a chat’ every Thursday lunchtime to have a catch up and they still remain a part of the Nurture family.
Where does the magic happen?
The Den is a place where children can feel safe and secure and therefore further develop their individual needs in a home from home environment. It offers a bright and colourful space at the same time as having a much needed calming environment. There is a comfy seating area to chill out in, an area to play games and work collaboratively, a canopy with bean bags plus a small kitchen area with seating to prepare and enjoy ‘Toast Time’.
We are hoping to expand our area to the great outdoors and are looking at having a garden area where the children can plant, and look after their very own plants / vegetables.
An afternoon in the Musketeer Group:
Children follow a structure and routine that is clear to both staff and children. This includes group listening and speaking, work tasks, individual and shared play and social skills. The group runs on consistency, positive reinforcement and praise.
A typical afternoon session in The Den revolves around a theme for the session. All pupils would understand what they were going to learn and improve upon during that session. Children have the opportunity to share good news, explore thoughts and feelings and work collaboratively on a practical task; encouraging cooperation and confidence. Within the sessions, opportunities are tailored to the needs of the particular group and age range. ‘Toast time’ offers much opportunity for social learning. An emphasis is placed on communication and language development through intensive interaction with an adult and children.