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Just what is Wellbeing?

Just what is Wellbeing? With calls for wellbeing to be put on the curriculum. NAPCE looks to break down the word wellbeing. We felt a reminder and de-construction of the word adds a little clarity so that we can address its components.

The dictionary definition of Wellbeing: ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’. In our environments the current priorities are child protection, free school meals, healthy living and inclusive school environments. Both physically and psychologically, students must have their needs met so that they are ready to learn efficiently. The state of wellbeing in our environments that we are part of/control are shaped by psychological, biological and sociological factors. Each play a part in the shaping of those within it. So from whole school planning, to lesson design, bear in mind these three factors- we can have an influence on each.


Mental wellbeing describes your mental state – ‘how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life’.

Ryan and Deci see the basic components of psychological needs as competence, autonomy, and relatedness (think ‘CAR’ ????). The level of each clearly varies in relation to developmental stages in life (bear in mind that autonomy can still be given if it has a good structure). Having an understanding of these components allows us to develop a framework for living and learning that is intrinsically motivated- self-determined.

To put it in context, we will use the well known ‘learning through play’ and an example of watching my five year old nephew last week. The child has relatively free choice how they interpret the stick (high jump pole, freeze ray, telescope etc.), they relate to their interests and become curious into the capabilities of the stick (just how much does it bend before it snaps?). I would say whilst playing high jump outside for two hours, intrinsically driven to beat the 52cm record set by himself just moments earlier, he was ‘comfortable, healthy and happy’ but also resilient in his attempts to beat nobody other than his own expectations.

Suggestion: Question your planning to see if those you are planning for a CAR to drive them forward.


Biological Wellbeing: ‘the physical (external and internal) health of the body’

This area needs a little less explanation but is not to be forgotten- each intwines with another. Use of exercise not only benefits the body, but also the mind. Going a little deeper draws you into thinking around pre-existing conditions, genetic influence etc.(an argument, that as I currently stand, as having less impact than nurture- our sociological influences). What aspect of physiological health/need are your schools focusing on this term? Are they not? Can you build in a five minute break into your lessons to consider it?

Suggestion: With research suggesting thirty minutes as a maximum for efficient concentration, a short break could be justifiable.


The culture of a school, and therefore its expectations, is one of the largest factors in pupils flourishing. There are some schools setting some incredible models for use beyond, but improving, test success. Geelong Grammar in Australia has adopted the elements of Positive Psychology in doing just this. Some schools are even taking an Ofsted approach to achieving ‘outstanding happiness‘. The autonomy to this approach is evident.

Suggestion: Up to down or from the bottom up, someone has to be the lead in each institution to grow the culture of addressing wellbeing in all aspects of the above, so our pupils are ready to learn.

NAPCE wishes you well for your new school year!

Are you interested in becoming a part of NAPCE? Our AGM is on the 7th of October at King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS (Committee Room in King’s Building).
020 7836 5454 (for any questions).  

Where Does Pastoral Care Begin?

NAPCE recently re-tweeted a post questioning ‘where does pastoral Care begin?’ The comments debate boiled down to… parents. It stirred a lot of reaction and some useful reflection. Schools are taking on a far more central role in parent support- and the focus is not always child-centered.

As a deputy head I see a range in staffs’ commitment and boundaries in supporting parents as individuals. This ranges in how and to what depths this goes; from a five-minute chat at the school gate, to a three-hour child protection case review. Sue Cowley recently said ‘Speaking as a parent, the close relationship with a class teacher has been one of the most important things in my kids’ primary education’.  And I don’t disagree. Yet, conflicting the goodwill, I see parents’ throw away (or at times very pointedly direct) comments to staff, strain their pupil time as their child’s teacher to attend a meeting for their input, and demand of parents adhered to for fear of what they may do if not (the list of consequences are expansive!). This is a real balancing act.

Morally, of course, there are situations which are challenging to stop yourself attempting to be a fixer. How can you not support the father who doesn’t have a strategy left to manage their child’s behaviour? Or the mother who is going through a divorce and tells you because there is no one else to talk to? But with cuts to social care contributing, where do we draw the line? What should a school offer? How do you pull it back in when a parent over steps the boundary without burning the bridges?

I think it is important to reiterate that it is an institution’s choice as to how they answer these questions- and to do it consistently, but as the re-tweet summarised- pastoral care does begin with the parent…

So instead of letting the school chase its metaphorical tail, I felt it was by addressing the issues that consistently arise by instigating a number of interventions.

Firstly, we spent the last term designing and running a three school collaboration parent training SEN program. Their children’s additional needs, patterns in behaviour and hormonal changes were, without a doubt, the largest area to address, but also the area that we as teachers have the specialist knowledge and strategies. The mantra was ‘we are the specialists, but you are the experts of your children’. This passed some of the responsibility back on to the parents from the outset, with the training aiming to be more of a facilitator role as opposed to a one size fits all transmission. The feedback and impact with those who chose (a separate issue) to attend have been very positive. Parents left with a clearer understanding of what sits behind certain behaviours, how communication and sensory provisions can reduce this, how these behaviours change during puberty and importantly- try to remain consistent with the schools’ strategies.

The second intervention was through staff training. The reiterated point of this was ‘Don’t be too hard on yourself’. Realising that you have a strong moral compass but don’t you have exhaustible energy. A set of black and white boundaries were laid out- including NO PERSONAL PHONE NUMBERS! We also updated the annual home-school agreement. That it was drawn up as a team, keeps a consistent and non-comparable approach moving forward.

As I sat in a meeting this morning I saw the discussions in action, a member of staff turning to the separated parent and stating ‘I don’t take sides, I am here for your son’, promptly followed by directing them to a number of external support resources. And I think that summarised where I stand. Does that make me less empathetic, narrow visioned or closed to parent input or budget spending on a vital intervention? I hope not because my moral compass is set to remain considerate of the whole learning journey. So I have decided that next term I will start a prevention- a parenting curriculum for older pupils, ensuring that parents are involved in the input…

NAPCE’s 2017 Pastoral Care in the Digital Era

A New Field of Pastoral Care

Pastoral care has traditionally focused on the physical and psychological environment that we create for our young people, but as ‘screen time’ increases, we question how aware are we of the potential, influence, strategies and consequences of the digital world?

Firstly, the learning potential for students able to critically analyse and use a resourcefulness has been increased by an incalculable amount with the vast tool of the internet. If we can embed the skills to seek a solid source and then separate the wheat from the chaff, our students have a life-long learning textbook with an ‘easy to use’ index. From cooking a new dish to extending our numeracy with the likes of the free online tuition from the Khan Academy, it is about an individual seeking the challenge, because the answer is usually there.

Many schools have also used social media as an effective tool for parental engagement, e.g. to forward information through Facebook and Twitter, and all parents are now encouraged to comment regularly through Parent View.

As screen time increases, the blur between reality and the digital world gets fuzzier. Are your standards in quality of life set against the celebrities on Instagram or music videos? Is your digital profile how the world sees you and does that stop when you get home and close the door? There is no set quantity of influence on each child, as each is an individual, but it is difficult to challenge that the influence is growing and physical social interaction is shrinking.

An example of risks to those under 11 years of age is musically. A lip-synching video app with the intention of gaining followers. If you do not set privacy settings, the video can be watched by anybody. Anybody who watches the video can send a message to the child, share the video on other platforms (eg Instagram) and even download it to a PC.

Pokemon Go! is quite safe. But, it takes young people into the physical environment – so stranger danger rules apply. Adults can play too. They’re all looking in the same places.

Twitch on the iPad, Xbox, Playstation (growing in use Years 5-9) is a live streaming app. It livestreams and strangers can interact as you play. There are facilities to “gift” people as they play.

For those a little older, Snapchat. You need to turn off geolocation services within the app.
If you take a selfie and somebody transfers the image to Instagram, all the details of the photo are sent with it. If geolocation is on it is easy to find out where the photo was taken.

A reminder that posting on Twitter – and, by association, Facebook and other social media platforms – is not conversation or ‘bantz’, but a form of publication for which you can be held to account. Freedom of speech gives you the right to express your opinion and your right must be respected. But if you can’t do that without being abusive, you have to accept responsibility for your actions should you get admonished, blocked or sued.


There is also a Government website that has resources and information for parents other stakeholders as well as a link to report any worrying activity that has involved your children.

In the case where parents and carers are complaining on social media, Kent County Council (1st Edition, August 2016) have created some clear guidelines for schools.

Be aware that being allowed to watch inappropriate online activity may be a safeguarding issue.

It is for us to become more aware of internet safety, the safety settings (and how some can get round them!) and discuss it with children. If they see you as a threat, then lies are far more likely. Establish expectations with your child about what they play, and what to do if they come across inappropriate activity. Praise children for sharing concerns and involve them in decision-making about what to do next (Don’t just ban them from the app. They won’t tell you next time). Use settings on device and in app to block inappropriate activity. Be prepared to change these further. For advice or to report serious abuse, use (or through ) and make sure all children are aware of this option too.

NAPCE recognises that this barely scratches the surface of where to begin and is questionning how deep an impact techonology is having on learning and the development of students, we look to find the strengths and highlight the risks.

Don’t forget about the recent call for papers for a ‘Special Issue-Journal of Pastoral Care in Education Mental Health and Well-Being of Children and Young People’.

NAPCE’s 2017 Conference- A reflection on what was learnt

Schools and the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Their Pupils

April 2017

Reflections on the Conference
NAPCE’s major annual conference on Schools and the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Their Pupils was held at the end of last month at Newman University, Birmingham. With over 150 educationalists coming together to access the highly engaging and relevant presentations and workshops.

The conference provided great insight into supporting young people to access appropriate help early impacting on improving attendance and closing the academic gap for the most disadvantaged young people, including those with additional needs.

With the likes of Mary Hinton from YoungMinds as a key speaker, the conference presented theory and evidence on current approaches in practice to preventing mental health problems escalating, all of which tied to improving institutions wellbeing as a preventative as well as a cure. The workshops focussed on different strategies, from engagement in SEN, attachment, and self-esteem, to the role of the school counselor.

What really stood out, particularly as the topic remains central to current media coverage, was just how much is already going on in the schools that presented to consciously prevent mental health issues and increase the long-term wellbeing of their students. Not only that but how it is being done largely without additional funding or specific external agency support (which in no way is belittling the need for it).

Following the conference, the NAPCE executive board reflected that with so much outstanding practice going on, the key to moving the system on as a whole is how best we go about sharing this so practitioners and schools can collaboratively learn from each other. The conference was one example of this medium, but with modern technology providing a global platform, NAPCE has decided to redesign its website so that it is an active bank of current resources. We hope that you can not just learn from it, but add to it over the coming months.

NAPCE Internet Safety Podcasts

Internet Safety Day from the Interner

February 2017

It is internet safety day today and schools across the country will be delivering input to students to promoting safe use of our relatively new information source.

But to maintain these lessons, we as staff need to have some awareness of the biological and social impact technology is having, as well as the huge potential to take our classrooms around the world and learning into fields far beyond the curriculum.

We have highlighted three key podcasts that are well worth a listen on lunch or the journey home.

The impact of ‘screen time’ TED Talk

Are our devices turning us into a new kind of human?

The effect of violent video games

NAPCE knows the power of technology and how they can host valuable resources. That is why is having a revamp and launching our new resources. On the same line, our National Conference is coming up at Newman University in March.

And last but in no way least, our Post Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Care is set to begin in September, working alongside Newman University’s Dr. Dave Trotman and Professor Stan Tucker.

NAPCE New Year!

Following a year that certainly raised them, over the next twelve months we are going to be tackling some of the biggest issues in pastoral care and how they are being addressed in schools.

I am sure that a week in to the new year and a week back at work may be making things seem a little less than joyful or back in your element, but this months NAPCE is all about looking ahead to the future.
What is pastoral care looking like in the 21st century? Without doubt it is still about building a supportive community around everyone we work with. There are new approaches to education not just cropping up, but being expanded on. NAPCE will be investigating a range of philosophies, from the autonomous need satisfaction to the anti-technology, and all that goes in-between. This including what and how the government is supporting and neglecting our schools.
But what format does this community take? Our digital society seems to be growing ever larger, stronger and influential, but what are we doing to embrace it so its best features can be used? NAPCE will address this next month following its coverage of CAPITA’s 15th Protecting Children and Young People in the Digital Environment Conference.

NAPCE knows the power of technology and how they can host valuable resources. That is why is having a revamp and launching our new resources. On the same line, our National Conference is coming up at Newman University in March.


And last but in no way least, our Post Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Care is set to begin in September, working alongside Newman University’s Dr. Dave Trotman and Professor Stan Tucker.
So, the 2017 new years resolution at NAPCE is to increase just how much we can do to support you… the one’s who are there to support everyone else!

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