What led you to become a teacher?
David Sheehan: When I was in school, I wasn't clear about what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. My head of sixth form at the time inspired me to follow my interests and find my passion. I studied Horticulture, Agriculture and Conservation before beginning my undergraduate degree in Property, Business and Law. In the end decided I wanted to see the world, so I ended up working overseas as a teacher in Japan.
I started off in Education as an English as a Second Language teacher and then a Teaching English as a Foreign Language teacher, teaching students from the age of two all the way up to a 70-year-old. Since then I’ve followed my passions within the education field. I went from being a class teacher to a specialist teacher. I've been an additional support teacher, a counsellor and a pastoral lead. I've been lucky to be able to follow my interests and develop myself in these areas and put them to use at school. I do it now even as Head of Pastoral Care.
It's a common joke in the office that I have a collection of certificates. I love to learn and I feel there are many different things I can bring to my role. The pastoral role is quite diverse, so having a broad background in different areas only adds to what I can bring to school.
What is pastoral care and why is it important?
Sheehan: Pastoral care is about looking at the physical, emotional, cognitive and social elements of a student's life at school. Taking care of these aspects helps to provide a strong foundation to enable our students to achieve inside and outside of school. If one domain gets affected the others get affected as well.
Safeguarding our students is one of the primary things we deal with. It's not just about child protection; we look out for children who might be in need and look at safety mechanisms we can put into place to prevent risks to a student’s safety.
We also look at social interventions. Schools are large social landscapes based on interactions we have with multiple people. Much of the pastoral support work I do revolves around how we interact with others, how we respect others, and how we work with others. That becomes the foundation that helps people to learn.