REPORT: “From the Chair” with NAPCE Chief Phil Jones
From the Chair by Phil Jones
I am sure that this year the summer break will be very welcome, and more important than ever before, to everybody working in pastoral roles in education.
I remember the summer holidays in three different stages.
The first two weeks was recovery time where I realised that there was more to life than coping with the latest demands being made on educational professionals.
The middle two weeks were a time for reading and thinking positively about opportunities to develop new ideas and implement improvements for the benefit of the learners in our care.
In the final two weeks I tended to spend the time convincing myself that this year would be better than the last and counting the days down to when life would become hectic again and feeling a little frustrated that time would once again be rationed for family, friends, and myself.
I always had mixed feelings about the first day back at work.
I was not keen about having to get up at a certain time and having my time during the day organised for me, but it was also good to meet colleagues and students again and make a difference for learners with new energy and motivation.
This highlights why the summer break is so important for professionals working in education, to be able to recharge yourself both physically and mentally in preparation for new challenges and opportunities.
It is also a reminder of how important it is to look after your physical health and mental health with a sensible work/life balance during the academic year.
The new academic year is a fresh start and an opportunity to focus on what really matters in your role and to reflect on how you can make a positive contribution to improve the learning experience and life chances of the children and young people in your care.
Planning and setting goals in September creates the motivation and inspiration to keep going when you face the challenges that are part of every academic year and will remind you later in the year about what your priorities are despite what other demands are made for your time and attention.
My summer reading included the book, ‘Successful conversations in school’ by Sonia Gill.
In the book she describes a process of group development from Bruce Tuckman.
Forming – where the groups from and expectations are explored
Storming – where boundaries and expectations are challenged
Norming – where there is some agreement about what is expected and the boundaries
Performing – where the agreed norms and boundaries mean that positive work can take place.
This can be applied to my experience of the school year.
In September there is a motivation to explore better ways of working and new ideas and initiatives.
As a headteacher I can remember in the first few weeks of the academic year how colleagues would come and tell me how well their classes were doing.
Then comes the storming period which in my experience takes place around November with the weather deteriorating and the added distractions for people working with children and young people of Halloween, bonfire night and the darker evenings with the clocks going back.
During this period my experience as a headteacher was of colleagues coming me to tell me how impossible it is to work with my children.
This is the time when expectations and boundaries are being challenged as learners and adults explore what the norms will be.
Sonia Gill describes this as a positive process where if issues are examined and discussed a positive working culture can be developed.
The time spent on resolving disagreements leads to the norming period where there is an acceptance of the boundaries and although it is the nature of young people to keep testing them there is a shared view of what is expected.
In my experience this does not really start to appear until the second term, so it is important to understand that the challenge and questioning of rules and boundaries is a normal process that we must work through.
Eventually the reward for all the effort invested in the process comes with the performing stage when there is some shared sense of purpose of what we are working towards.
It is frustrating that with many students they seem to arrive at this point just as they are about to leave the school and the adults are left wondering why we couldn’t get to this way of working earlier, without all the effort being spent on resolving conflicts and reinforcing expectations.
Resolving conflicts and establishing a positive learning culture will always be part of the work of staff in pastoral roles in schools.
This was especially true in the last academic year because of the additional challenges form the pandemic.
Reading the nominations for the 2021 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education it was clear what inspirational work is taking place in pastoral care.
It was great to see that nominations were being made from all parts of the UK and some from other countries across the world and from many different schools and educational organisations.
There were so many brilliant examples of good practice and innovations to respond to challenges and provide excellent pastoral care and support for learners.
It has also become clear how vital this work is for supporting the socialisation of children and young people to enable them to become positive members of society.
NAPCE is pleased to have this opportunity to share the good practice by organising the annual awards and to contribute to inspiring professionals to find effective responses to new challenges and to make a real difference in the future life chances of learners.
The winners in the eight categories will be announced at a Presentation event that takes place at 7-00pm on Thursday 23rd September.
Once again because of the uncertainty about restrictions for the pandemic it will be an online event.
We hope that once again colleagues will make an evening of the event and join with NAPCE, to celebrate the achievements of everybody who was nominated and to congratulate the winners.
There are a limited number of tickets for the event and they can be reserved by visiting Eventbrite.
There is no limit to how many people can join a link to be part of the event so why not arrange to dress up for the evening and organise the celebratory drinks!
Tickets for the presentation Event are free and to reserve your place and for more details please follow the link:
The national awards are an important reminder of the excellent work that is being done in pastoral care to support young people to achieve their full potential from their education despite the difficulties and challenges that we face every day.
The increased interest in the work of NAPCE, demonstrates what a positive impact effective pastoral care can have in supporting learners and improving their future life chances.
NAPCE followers on social media have increased, there is more contact with the Association from people who share our interests in pastoral care and the number of memberships of the Association which includes a subscription to the respected international academic journal, ‘Pastoral Care in Education’ is increasing.
NAPCE is looking forward to our 40th anniversary year in 2022.
The Association has been supporting pastoral care in education and sharing good practice for 40 years and the passion to continue making a positive contribution to the learning experience of learners and their preparation for their future lives is as strong as it has ever been.
The National Executive Committee are planning events and activities to celebrate the anniversary, and these include the publication of a new book about pastoral care by Cambridge Scholars and a Conference where we hope to once again be able to meet each other in person.
For the latest news and information about NAPCE please visit the website napce.org.uk and follow NAPCE on social media. (TWITTER @NAPCE1). For information about membership or anything else please contact us by email on email@example.com
NAPCE is looking forward to working with our members and supporters in the new academic year, to continue making a positive contribution to supporting children and young people to enable them to achieve success in their education and future lives.
All my best wishes