The work of Service programme students involved in the Nurture Project, an innovative scheme aimed at helping disadvantaged pupils at St Martin's Infant School in Epsom to reach a higher level of attainment, has been recognised as having had an extremely positive impact on the academic outcomes of some young children at the school.
According to Lucy Warren, a Governor at St Martin's, who oversees the Nurture Project, RAISEonline 2015 data from Ofsted shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of disadvantaged pupils at the school attaining the national average or above in reading, writing and maths.
"This has enabled the school to close the gap in attainment for disadvantaged pupils, with some of these pupils now outperforming their peers academically. By spending time every week with individual children, the Epsom College students have helped to develop their language, social and emotional skills, and enhance their emotional wellbeing," Mrs Warren said.
The College has been working closely with St Martin's on the Nurture Project for the past two years. The latest cohort of 6th form volunteers undertook three weeks of training at the start of the Michaelmas term before beginning work with the young pupils.
The training included an overview of The Nurture Project, drawing on the psychology of how disadvantaged pupils learn, attachment theory and developmental learning. Training also included sessions on "Safeguarding" and "Discovering and using your Strengths".
The volunteers were then matched to individual pupils depending on their identified strengths and have been assisting both individuals and groups of pupils this term with intervention programmes, designed and planned by the staff at St Martin's.
Activities include having one-to-one conversations with the children, playing language games and developing social skills by playing games with them in the playground.
They also work on number skills by playing board games, listen to the children read and help with science and craft activities.
"Feedback about the students' work has been excellent, with the teachers most impressed with their input. They also provide excellent role models for the children," Mrs Warren said.
"The Nurture Project has had a significant impact on the group of College students involved, giving them the confidence to deal with new situations and providing much for them to think about with regard to their own personal development," said Service Coordinator, Roshie Watkins.