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Nurture Class

The Nurture Class (KS3) was opened in Spring 2020 to provide an increased level of targeted support for pupils who are working below the common levels of pupils who attend Woodlane. This streamed/cross-curricular class has an increased focus on language and communication development, social skills and independence in a smaller group setting with a higher adult:pupil ratio.

Navigate to the following areas using the topic buttons below to find out more:

Rationale – What is the evidence base for selected strategies and curriculum choices?

Irresistible Invitation to Learn

Pupils attending the Nurture Resource at Woodlane may come to school with a range of barriers to learning, such as: difficulties with focus and attention, specific learning difficulties and/or previous negative educational experiences.  Therefore, it is the job of Nurture teachers to provide our pupils with what Gina Davies, designer of the Attention Autism approach, calls an “Irresistible Invitation to Learn”.  Although the Nurture curriculum is not taught through the Attention Autism approach, the key principles are a vital part of what we provide:

  • To engage attention
  • To improve joint attention
  • To develop shared enjoyment in group activities
  • To increase attention in adult-led activities
  • To encourage spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting
  • To increase non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting
  • To build a wealth and depth of vocabulary
  • To have fun!

(Middletown Centre for Autism)

Rix et al. (2009) stated that “Active student engagement is critical to academic success.” We ensure pupils are actively engaged through: exciting and memorable teaching, individualised activities, engaging and practical resources that provide for all learning styles, adult modelling and engagement, the explicit teaching of social skills and group interaction, and providing a range of communication aids.  Rix et al. (2009) found that effective teaching included viewing social interaction as an important way of developing the academic and social skills of pupils with SEN.

Individualised Teaching of Reading and Writing

The majority of pupils who attend the Nurture Resource are working well below their chronological age in reading (decoding and/or comprehension) and writing.  Our pupils are all individuals with individual needs, and the teaching of reading and writing is not a ‘one size fits all’. 

Although in primary mainstream education phonics is currently recommended as the sole method for learning to read and spell, McMurray, 2020, 2021 found that “When systematic synthetic phonics is used as the only method to teach reading, it does not work for up to 25% of children” including most children with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) strongly recommend that phonics is used alongside a range of approaches.  The Downs Syndrome Association, in their training ‘Implementing Reading Strategies’, also states that pupils with Downs Syndrome are likely to learn to read through strategies other than phonics, such as whole-word approaches.

In the Nurture Resource, some pupils find success with phonics, some with orthographic strategies including whole-word recognition, and many with a combination of the two.  Pupils are assessed at entry to Nurture in their phonics and whole-word knowledge, so that staff are able to quickly build on individuals’ skills and support them in their gaps in order to make progress.  Reading books are provided at an instructional level for pupils, and there are both phonetically plausible books and books with repetitive vocabulary available depending on what works for an individual. 

Difficulties in decoding, spelling and handwriting means that pupils can sometimes come to the Nurture Resource as reluctant readers and writers.  We aim to challenge this by providing engaging, high quality, highly visual texts that we share as a class, in order to provide opportunities for comprehension and enjoyment.  When asked to compose their own writing, pupils are able to do this through a range of methods, such as dictation or video recording, so they are not held back from the pleasure of composition because of difficulties with the physical act of writing.

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) provide guidance for reading and writing for pleasure, and their principles are embedded in the Nurture Curriculum:


1. Developing an ethos and an environment that excites, enthuses, inspires and values

2. High quality texts with depth and interest in story, character, illustration, vocabulary, structure and subject matter

3. A read aloud programme

4. Teachers who are knowledgeable about children’s literature

5. Creating a community of readers with opportunities to share responses and opinions 6. Planning for talking about books and stories, providing structures within which to do this 7. Understanding the importance of illustration in reading both in terms of creating a text and responding to a text

8. Using drama and role-play to help children to understand and access texts

9. Working with authors and author/illustrators to understand the process of creating books

10. Using literature beyond the literacy lesson – cross-curricular planning with quality literature as the starting point



1. Understand the role reading plays in developing writers and the value of being immersed in high quality literature

2. Ensure children have experience of a breadth of texts including those that are visual and digital

3. Provide a range of meaningful opportunities to write for real purposes and audiences and to respond to writing as a reader

4. Develop an understanding of the craft of writing by engaging meaningfully with professional authors and their processes

5. Understand and model the craft and process of writing authentically

6. Support children to identify as writers and to develop their own authentic voice

7. Give children time and space to develop their own ideas in writing

8. Use creative teaching approaches that build imagination and give time for oral rehearsal

9. Ensure the teaching of phonics, grammar and spelling is embedded in context

10. Celebrate writing through authentic publication and presentation across platforms

(Centre for Literacy in Primary Education 2018)


Repetition, Retention and Recall

The Word Aware vocabulary programme (Stephen Parsons and Anna Branagan 2016) states that children need 12 meaningful encounters with a word before they really know it, and for pupils with learning difficulties this can be closer to 25 or more.  In the Nurture Provision, we aim to provide as many meaningful language encounters for our pupils as possible.  Word Aware recommends the use of the STAR approach for learning new language, which we use in the Nurture Resource:

Select (the teacher and SaLT carefully select the vocabulary to be taught)

Teach (explicitly, using a variety of kinaesthetic strategies)

Activate (using the vocabulary in a range of contexts)

Review (ensuring the vocabulary is retained over time)


Another way we provide meaningful language encounters in the Nurture Resource is through our cross-curricular teaching and learning, where pupils are taught all subjects under a half-termly theme or ‘topic’, allowing the pupils to generalise and draw links more easily between subjects.  McLeskey et al (2017) state that for pupils with SEND: “High-quality teaching includes teaching pupils to generalise new knowledge and skills to different contexts and to maintain these over time” and that “Students learn to use new knowledge and skills in places and situations other than the original learning environment and maintain their use in the absence of ongoing instruction.” 

The Nurture Curriculum is designed to build and expand on previous skills and subject knowledge over an academic year and over a pupil’s time at Woodlane.  It also plans for lots of opportunities for repetition in order to fully embed knowledge, increasing the likelihood that pupils retain and recall information.

Intent – What is Woodlane aiming to achieve through its Nurture Class curriculum?

  • To provide an outstanding education, which is personalised to the specific learning needs of each pupil in Nurture Class.
  • To provide a calm, learning focused environment, which is safe, caring and nurturing, in a small group with a high adult child ratio.
  • To provide a holistic education, which incorporates guidance and strategies from support agency partnerships e.g. speech and language therapists, occupational therapists etc.
  • To increase resilience and independence and develop pupils’ ability to self-regulate.
  • To ensure Woodlane values are at the heart of learning.
  • To develop pupils’ essential life skills, developing their knowledge and the ‘cultural capital’ they need to succeed in life (personal development).
  • To promote physical and emotional well-being.
  • To prepare pupils for the next stage of their education.
  • To ensure all pupils leave Woodlane with outcomes that reflect the best of their ability.

Implementation – How is the Nurture Class curriculum delivered?

Curriculum Delivery

  • Pupils have full access to a broad and balanced curriculum which is differentiated to meet pupils’ learning needs and styles. The Nurture Class curriculum is designed to be challenging and appropriate to each pupil’s stage of development.
  • In the Nurture Class, pupils are taught the same subjects as other classes at Woodlane: literacy, maths, science, art, PCSHE, food technology, geography, history, Spanish, PE, RE and computing.  These subjects are taught through 25+ hours contact time a week.
  • Pupils are taught these subjects under a half-termly theme or ‘topic’, allowing the pupils to generalise and draw links more easily between subjects.  Most of the subjects are taught by one experienced Nurture Class teacher.
  • A combination of phonics teaching and whole-word teaching is used to teach reading and writing in the Nurture Class, meaning that pupils can build upon their individual strengths to make progress in their literacy skills. 
  • The Nurture Class has close links with support agency partnerships, e.g. speech and language therapists and occupational therapists, meaning that opportunities to meet individual language and OT targets can be built into the curriculum.  Sessions explicitly covering pupils’ SaLT and OT targets are also built into the Nurture Class timetable.
  • The Nurture Class curriculum is designed to build and expand on previous skills and subject knowledge.  The KS3 Nurture Class curriculum runs on a 3-year cycle, as most pupils will spend 3 years in the KS3 Nurture Class, in year 7, 8 and 9.  The curriculum also plans for lots of opportunities for repetition in order to fully embed knowledge, increasing the chance of information recall.
  • The Zones of Regulation are used to support pupils to regulate their behaviour, thus removing barriers to learning and ensuring pupils can succeed.
  • The Nurture Class pupils are fully included in the wider life of the school, taking part in regular whole school theme days throughout the academic year, and are able to attend additional extra-curricular activities at lunchtime and after school.  Each year, a member of the Nurture Class is voted to be a member of School Council.

Teaching and Learning

  • The curriculum is differentiated broadly into three levels of challenge: ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’.  Further differentiation and personalisation is implemented when required.
  • Homework is provided on the online platform ‘Firefly’ and is differentiated as above to provide the appropriate level of challenge. 
  • Written communication between Nurture Class staff and parents/carers is provided through a daily ‘report’.  The report contains symbols in order to support pupils to discuss their day’s learning with their parent/carer.
  • We offer various parent-pupil workshops throughout the year to enable parents to best support their child and work in partnership with the school.
  • Nurture Class homework is provided on a standardised format and is differentiated to provide the appropriate level of challenge.
  • In the Nurture Class we have a 3 tiered approach to supporting a pupil’s learning, including:

Universal – this is the teaching your child will receive from the Nurture Class teacher and will include adaptations to match learning needs:

  • Daily Literacy and Maths teaching, with maths and literacy skills embedded across the curriculum
  • Access to a broad and balanced curriculum of 12 subjects
  • A high ratio of adults to pupils
  • A maximum of 10 pupils in the class
  • Lessons are engaging and multi-sensory
  • Teaching resources are dyslexia-friendly
  • The use of Communicate in Print symbols to support understanding
  • A positive behaviour management system guided by the Zones of Regulation, supporting pupils to regulate themselves effectively
  • Integrated speech, language and communication support, under the guidance of a speech and language therapist
  • Integrated OT support, under the guidance of an occupational therapist

Targeted­ – it may be appropriate to consider making additional short term special educational provision to remove or reduce any obstacles to your child’s learning.  This takes the form of a graduated four part approach of a) assessing your child’s needs, b) planning the most effective and appropriate intervention, c) providing this intervention and d) reviewing the impact on your child’s progress towards individual learning outcomes.

Interventions may include:

  • Specific targeted interventions run outside the classroom. These will be limited to a number of weeks to minimise disruption to the regular curriculum
  • Individual or small group interventions designed in collaboration with SaLT or OT
  • Individual targets set twice annually from EHCPs and opportunities made in class to work on these targets
  • Additional visual supports for individuals as required around specific areas e.g. behaviour or transitions

Specialist – it may be necessary to seek specialist advice and regular long term support from a specialist professional in order to plan for the best possible learning outcomes for your child. This may include educational psychology support, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, art/play therapy, sensory advisory teachers and the child development service.  The school may need to prioritise referrals to these services. However, for a high proportion of Woodlane High School pupils, access to these specialists is automatic due to specification a pupil’s EHC Plan.


  • Each pupil collates a Pupil Achievement Book, where they showcase their best work and demonstrate progress over time in a variety of subjects.
  • The Nurture Class teacher will analyse data from a range of sources to effectively evaluate each pupil's performance, and plan for further improvement.
  • The Woodlane bespoke Flight Path is used to track the progress of individual pupils and determine expected outcomes from different starting points.  This ensures that all pupils are challenged.
  • Our Assessment Map highlights the range of qualifications available and how these can be compared to one another.
  • A range of summative assessment procedures are used in the Nurture Class to assess progress and attainment.  For example, pupils may take part in whole school reading or maths assessments, as well as more individualised phonics or high-frequency word assessments. 
  • Additionally, adults in the Nurture Class are consistently formatively assessing pupils and adapting teaching accordingly so that all pupils are supported and challenged.

Impact – What difference is the Nurture Class curriculum making on pupils?

  • In the Nurture Class, the vast majority of pupils meet or exceed their expected progress, based on their starting points.
  • The very large majority of pupils are on track to meet or exceed their expected outcomes in Year 11 (external qualifications).
  • When pupils transition from Woodlane in Year 11, they will have gained at least 1 and up to 11 externally accredited qualifications, which reflect the pupil’s best ability.
  • The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is outstanding. 
  • Lack of confidence can often be a barrier to learning, and one that we aim to overcome in the Nurture Class by ensuring pupils believe that they can succeed.
  • The Zones of Regulation are used in the Nurture Class to help to develop outstanding behaviour for learning and increase pupils’ ability to self-regulate.  Additional positive behaviour strategies may be used for individual pupils if appropriate.
  • Pupils are well-prepared for the next stage of their education no Woodlane pupil has left Woodlane Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in the last 6 years.

* Please see our annual SEF/SIP for further details.