Nurture is key to the Palatine Way success

Deputy head Nigel Whittle (left) with nurture group leaders Rachel Thornley, Kesta Rigg, and pupils.
Deputy head Nigel Whittle (left) with nurture group leaders Rachel Thornley, Kesta Rigg, and pupils.
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A PIONEERING approach to nip disruptive behaviour in the bud has seen dramatic results at Palatine Sports College.

From September, daily nurturing sessions began at the South Shore school in a bid to help students who are struggling to settle into secondary life.

And the classes, an extension of a new restorative practice policy the school started three years ago, are already seeing noticeable results.

Fixed term exclusion rates have been cut in half, attendance is up and the school’s GCSE results have risen steadily year on year.

Nigel Whittle, deputy headteacher at the St Annes Road school, said: “There have been enormous differences since the Palatine Way was introduced.

“By stepping up the nurturing sessions for pupils in Year 7 to 9, we are making sure we are tackling any issues which affect learning long before they start their GCSEs.

“The Palatine Way saw school rules totally overhauled with the input of the students, the way we interact with students was radically changed and we are always adding new initiatives like the nurturing sessions.

“The school is a different place and we are totally committed to ensuring every student at Palatine achieves to the very best of their ability.”

The restorative practise policy meant training every member of staff to take a different approach to disruptive behaviour.

Instead of dishing out punishments, students would be spoken to about the reasons for their conduct and given a chance to explain themselves.

A team of non teaching staff are on hand to work with pupils and address any problems. They also run the nurturing classes with younger children. These will often have a numeracy or literacy theme but look at issues such as resolving conflict, managing anger and even learning how to cope with homework demands.

Pupils are handpicked by staff to attend if they have been identified as needing some extra support.

And Year 11 pupils who started the school five years ago have certainly noticed the difference.

Joe Darnell, 16, said: “Since the Palatine Way was introduced, teachers give us more respect so we respect them more, it’s a two way street.

“They are rules we helped choose so we stick to them, behaviour has been a lot better.”

Fatima Azzuz, 16, added: “The Palatine Way is good because it gives you the chance to explain your behaviour and have your say. Before people got into trouble because assumptions were made about why they were behaving in a certain way.

“People are not sent out of lessons as much and grades have gone up.”

Hannah Baggaley, 15, said: “I came here from another school and had some anger problems.

“Being able to talk to the staff has really helped me turn things around and I got counselling, I’m a prefect now.

“I’m better behaved at home too, Palatine has helped me be the best I’ve ever been.”