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School nurture group obtains prestigious quality benchmark award 13 June 2008

THE nurture group at Murray’s Road Junior School has become the first in the Island and one of only a handful anywhere in the British Isles to attain a prestigious quality benchmark award.

The Douglas school’s nurture group, named the Rainbow Fish Room, has been awarded a Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award after a rigorous assessment process. Marjorie Boxall Award

The award, presented by the Nurture Group Network UK, recognises quality of practice. Only 24 schools in the UK have received this award.

The award is named after Marjorie Boxall, an educational psychologist who worked in inner London schools in the 1970s and founded the principles of nurture groups in response to the difficulties presented by the children she worked with.

The Rainbow Fish Room, which opened in 2006, operates five mornings a week, supporting pupils with social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties. The facility provides a carefully planned routine, where there is a balance of learning and teaching, support and structure within a home-like atmosphere.

The nurture group was named after the popular children’s books of the same title and has an aquatic theme, including a fish tank with fish the pupils care for. The group is based in a classroom with a home-like area, a kitchen, an area for formal learning and an area for practical/play activities. Typically, six pupils work in the nurture group at one time and pupils attend for between two and four terms.

‘Nurture groups are rigorously assessed against a set of quality standards,’ explained Chris Scott, who has run the Rainbow Fish Room since it opened. ‘The process involves submitting a large project containing evidence of how standards are met, plus a further written submission on how a group’s provision incorporates the six core principles of nurture group work. There is then a visit from an accredited assessor.’

News that the school was to receive a Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award came after Maggie Biddlestone, from Wigan, visited the nurture group in May to carry out an assessment.

‘I am very pleased that Murray’s Road School is the first school on the Island to attain this award and I’m very proud to be part of the growing Isle of Man nurture network,’ Mr Scott said.

Mr Scott has really enjoyed developing the nurture group at Murray’s Road and is equally excited about the opportunity to create a brand new nurture facility at Willaston School from September 2008. He is looking forward to working with pupils, parents and staff. Eight primary schools and four secondary schools in the Island currently have nurture groups.

Dr Cheryl Smith, the Department’s Nurture Development Officer, said:

‘I am delighted that the Murray’s Road School Rainbow Fish Room has received the Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award, which reflects the dedication of the nurture staff and the school as a whole. This has now set a precedent on the Isle of Man and I look forward to this mark of excellence being extended to other nurture facilities across the Island in the future.’

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