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Enhancing support in eg Learning Support Units, nurture groups etc using the Cycle of Development

This is primarily written for alternative education placements. This includes nurture groups, learning support units and other inclusion facilities, short-stay schools (Pupil Referral Units), as well as supporting a move to a special school. It also has relevance to children and young people who are in foster placements. A placement in alternative provision, like any other key time of change, offers a particularly potent time for a pupil to (re)visit key developmental tasks:

  • The move itself is a significant transition. As such, it is likely to bring about challenges for the pupil in terms of his/her emotional development - to learn to trust the new staff; to find out about the rules and boundaries; to find their place in relation to the other pupils etc. To support this, staff can assist the pupil in moving through three distinct stages - 'Becoming', 'Staying Awhile' and 'Moving On' (Barrow (2004). By paying attention to how we support the pupil as s/he prepares to move into the unit Becoming, Staying awhile and then moves back into the 'mainstream' Moving on, the pupil is more likely to be able to get the most out of the placement. Conversely, if we don't attend to these elements, the pupil may well struggle to do so.
  • During the placement, support can include opportunities to revisit specific tasks or stages that are underpinning the behaviours causing concern. Group work can be a particularly powerful tool to enhance emotional development.

To make the most from the placement, it might be beneficial to create a profile of his/her emotional development. This will highlight areas of relative strength and specific tasks/stages that could be revisited during the time of the placement.
Creating an Individual Behaviour Development Plan, with input from the pupil, key staff from both the 'mainstream' and the centre, as well as parents/carers, will help to establish a shared sense of ownership for the placement.


Barrow, G. & Newton, T. (2004) : 'Walking the Talk : How Transactional Analysis is Improving Behaviour and Raising Self-Esteem' : David Fulton Publishers

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