A study of nurture groups as a window into school relationships

Warin, Joanna and Hibbin, Rebecca Alison (2016) A study of nurture groups as a window into school relationships. The International Journal of Nurture in Education, 2. pp. 7-14. ISSN 2059-0458

PDF (Warin and Hibbin IJNE paper)
Warin_and_Hibbin_IJNE_paper.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (724kB)


This narrative account describes approaches to sanctions in primary school settings that also provide Nurture Groups, and the ways in which different approaches may be viewed as helpful or harmful to children’s behaviour and to Nurture Group provision. It draws from research conducted as part of a larger comparative Nurture Group study examining whole school aspects of NG provision in seven case study schools. The three most successful settings within the study had relationships at their core, and a de-emphasis on sanction systems. They had an ideological leaning away from any kind of ‘will to punish’, and a leaning towards social relationships and Restorative Justice. In contrast the least successful settings tended towards social control and sanction systems that provided a sharp contrast between the contexts of nurture and mainstream. Overall it is concluded that in order to avoid harmful and counter-productive effects, sanctions in schools need to be individualised and they need to make sense. In addition, they need to be proportional, non-confrontational and educational. Under these conditions sanctions do not preclude social engagement or represent a punitive and reactionary response. However, it is the relational ecology of the school that dictates whether a punitive strategy of control, or a nurturing strategy of ongoing social engagement is sought overall. Nurture Groups can provide us with a useful way to model complementary aspects of Restorative Justice, as both NG and RJ philosophies are based on a will to develop, maintain, repair and sustain attachments.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
The International Journal of Nurture in Education
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
02 Jun 2017 08:16
Last Modified:
11 Sep 2023 18:51