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What is Pastoral Care?

As this week’s theme is all about safeguarding, I wanted to write about how this links with pastoral care.

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Pastoral care provides opportunities for students to look inward and consider who they are and who they want to become and well as looking outward and helping them find their place in the wider world. Strong pastoral care structures support our safeguarding team as issues relating to child safety fall along a spectrum. Our pastoral team works to build students up and protect them from harm while our safeguarding team works to support students facing particular problems. 

Pastoral care covers everything within school that relates to the emotional and social wellbeing of the students in out care. It encompasses one to one mentoring, form time and assemblies and the PSHE curriculum. Students may have attended other schools that do these things, but I know that for many parents these are new and very different from what you experienced when you attended school. 

Our one-to-one mentoring  programme enables students to have the opportunity to speak to their personal tutor and really get to know each other. This means that form tutors can spot changes in behaviours that might indicate that a student is facing a problem at home or in school. We hope that students are more likely to feel comfortable discussing challenges that they encounter as well as preparing the form tutor to know how best to support them. Really successful form tutor relationships are vital in difficult situations but are also important in times of success and celebration. When students look to the future and begin applying to university, the best references can be written by form tutors who know their students the best and have firm relationships and can effectively communicate all the greatest achievements. 

Form time and assemblies currently take place within year groups and allow students the chance to build relationships and develop a group identity. More than ever, I know that we are now seeing the importance in school for providing students with a framework to develop their social and communication skills. Spending time in a group of peers in their form group means that they have the chance to discuss issues that they are all facing or simply find out more about the world. Some of the best assemblies this year have been about such different topics as world toilet day and Hallowe'en! Form time is a time where students can learn what they want to learn about and not simply what the curriculum prescribes. 

PSHE (personal social and health education) is a broad subject that covers everything from identity, celebrating, difference, setting goals and looking to the future, being healthy, having positive relationships and the changes of adolescence. It is a subject that we teach through discussion and students often find it easier to talk about these issues in a class than they might with their parents. None the less I would encourage parents to bring up these concepts at home as we work together in supporting students as they transition from children to adults. 

Alexandra Hands

Deputy Head Pastoral