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#375 Development of Alternative Provision – Colman Federation

Head teacher and SENDco, Colman Federation

What did we do?

At Colman Federation we have a significant number of children with SEMH challenges, leading to a very real risk of FEX when behaviours escalate within a class environment. The numbers of at risk pupils has increased as a result of COVID with pupils presenting with lack of confidence, resilience and finding it challenging to integrate in to school life. Colman Federation sees the importance of offering an Alternative Provision onsite for our most vulnerable children

We set up and developed a Nurture Hub and Forest School with an aim to provide an environment where our most vulnerable children are offered a range of opportunities to engage with missing early nurturing experiences, experiencing the social and emotional skills to do well at school and with peers, develop their resilience and their capacity to gain in confidence.

An environment where groups of KS1 and KS2 pupils from both of our federation schools are able to develop themselves through healthy engagement with risk, problem-solving and self-discovery in an outdoor environment in a hands-on and thoughtful manner.


Pupil M is now coming into school independently with the rest of his year group, whereas previously he was brought into school via the office and collected there by parent every day. His self-confidence has grown as a result of this and he is enjoying spending more time with his peers. His parent is more relaxed about his time in school and M is less reliant on 1:1 adult support.

Headteacher, Colman Federation

Summary of impact

Improvement in confidence and self-esteem and progress of pupils at the Nurture Hub and as a result on Forest School provision
Whilst our provision has only been up and running since the start of this academic year (5 weeks), there have been significant improvements for some children already.

Children are more socially, emotionally and academically resilient
It is still very early in the school year to see large gains in these areas but children are happier coming into school and more relaxed in the school environment.

Children will be able to transfer the skills developed in the nurture base or the forest school into their lives and their classroom
The timetable is planned so that children go back to base classes every Friday. This enables them to put into practice the skills they have been developing from Monday to Thursday within Kangaroos and/or Forest School. Most children are managing this transition back to their base classes well with only a small minority finding it challenging and requiring additional support.

Pupils on a reduced timetable have an increase in hours
Pupil S is now coming into school for 4 full days, whereas last year he was only managing half days. He presents as happier and less anxious about coming to school as he is now relaxed in the Kangaroos classroom and forest school space.

Children will be more engaged in their learning and this will impact on their academic progress and attainment
There has been a clear increase in engagement with learning activities either in Kangaroos or in the classroom with fewer refusals to engage as self esteem grows and children are more successful as learners. Longer term, there should be further gains in this area.

Reduced behaviour incidents
Last year the children accessing nurture and forest schools were in main classes and finding it difficult to manage their behaviour. As a result, behaviour incidents were frequent and learning was disrupted most days, particularly within Year 3. This term to date, these children are now in Kangaroos and/or Forest School and therefore their needs are being better met and learning within main classes is not being disrupted.
Some of the children in Kangaroos and/or Forest Schools are still having behaviour incidents due to the nature of their needs and their close proximity to each other within their nurture space. However the wider impact on the rest of the school is huge – no disrupted learning and fewer callouts for leadership team support.
Behaviour incidents for Kangaroos children are dealt with by Kangaroos staff and fed back immediately to parents via text message.

Children more prepared for transition from KS2 to KS3
Again very early to see the impact in this area. Children expected to return to main classes full time within 4 terms.

Over time a reduction in exclusions
Already this academic year there has been a significant reduction in Fixed Term Exclusions – 3 days so far this academic year compared to 13 days within the same period last academic year.

Children will develop a range of social and emotional skills that will allow them to manage their emotional reactions.
Again it is very early in the school year to be seeing impact in this area. Currently we are just seeing an improvement in children’s wellbeing and happiness in school and willingness to come to school.

Alternative Provision on site will allow a greater number of children to access an alternative provision, directly and indirectly benefitting the quality of learning
Last academic year only 1 pupil was able to access Alternative Provision due to lack of availability within the area for KS2. Now there are 12 children accessing AP in some form or other each week which is a significant improvement.

It will provide greater value for money
Two children last year had 1:1 support full time and this is no longer needed, meaning a reduction of staffing costs by approx. £30,000.

Steps taken

Staff identified for training for both Nurture UK and Forest School and training booked.

Nurture Hub resourced and Nurture UK engaged with school to advise on resources required and act as a consultant. Children identified for the provision.

Forest School consultant engaged and advising school on needs and resources ordered. Children identified for the FS Provision

Any volunteers engaged in setting up the provision alongside the consultant and Federations’ grounds team

Boxall training – Basic Boxall online competencies for additional staff member

Boxall Profiles completed


September 2022 –

Nurture Hub – Colman Kangaroos – in place since September 2022 and operational 4 mornings a week.

Forest school also in place since September 2022 and operational 4 afternoons a week.

All Nurture UK training completed in summer term 2022 and Forest School training ongoing with a view to being completed in summer term 2023.

Children attending nurture and forest school all Boxall profiled in Summer term 2022 and individual timetables created for all children

Children return to base classes on Fridays and staff use time for planning and organisation, including meeting with Forest School consultant.

12 children were identified as being suitable for our alternative provision via Boxall profiles and all attend according to their individual needs but with flexibility to allow for any issues arising. 8 out of the 12 children are in receipt of Pupil Premium funding.

What would we do differently

Whilst being an exciting project, this has been a very steep learning curve for us. The time frame we had to get Kangaroos up and running and staff trained etc was extremely tight and did make the Summer term 2022 a bit stressful, particularly for the staff who needed to do nurture training and start their forest school training at the same time. Nevertheless, the accelerated timeline meant that there was genuine excitement about the project across the school. The meeting with parents was really positive and each individual timetable was given to parents at that meeting. Communication with parents has been key, with Kangaroos having a dedicated phone line so parents can call and/or staff can call parents.

Preparing the space was a huge step forward, clearing the classroom, decorating, getting the right furnishings so that the space feels different from a mainstream classroom and staff were actively involved in this process during the summer holidays. The children love the physical space and feel safe and secure there.

One of the things we learned very quickly and more by accident than design was that the best structure for pupils and staff was a four day a week timetable with Fridays back in base classes to maintain links with their peers and class staff. This has been essential, allowing children the opportunity to practise their newly acquired skills back in the mainstream learning environment and also giving the space to staff for planning, preparation, record keeping, training and meeting with parents, other staff and forest school consultants.

Ensuring that all school staff understand the rationale behind Kangaroos has been important. Recognising that the Kangaroos children are still learning, but in a different way and that the Kangaroos classroom and forest school space need to be respected and

One of the things we have had to change is around breaktimes for Kangaroos children. Initially the plan was for Kangaroos children to have all breaktimes and lunchtimes with the rest of the school. However it became quickly apparent that they were struggling with the lack of structure and tight support, leading to behavioural issues. We have addressed this by keeping Kangaroos children together with Kangaroos staff at these times, at least for this term whilst they acquire more social and emotional regulation skills and then phase them back into mainstream playtimes next term and very slowly. This has been much more successful for all concerned with fewer incidents and happier children.

In order to make this model sustainable long term within our school, we are now considering how we cover for staff absence within the Kangaroos provision and are in the process of training another member of staff with Nurture UK initially so that they can step in in the event of staff absence.

Whilst this has only been running for 5 weeks, it is already very much an integral part of our school provision and we really appreciate the support of NOA to get this up and running, this would not have been possible without this support.


£15,949.91 on training and equipment
£4326.40 on staffing for September

Total to date – £20,276.31


To note-

Two children last year had 1:1 support full time and this is no longer needed, meaning a reduction of staffing costs by approx. £30,000.

Resources to do something similar yourself

Staff training with Nurture UK

Boxall Profile Online assessment tool for social emotional and behavioural difficulties for children and young people

Growild Education Ltd were used for Services and Consultancy

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Development of therapeutic and vocational student support alternative provision – City Academy Norwich

At City Academy Norwich (CAN) we acknowledge that the mainstream environment is one that some students find particularly difficult and high-quality alternative provision (AP) is essential to addressing these difficulties.

Zones of Regulation - Magdalen Gates Primary School

Accelerated Learning Unit (ALU) - Norwich Secondary School