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NAPCE News – December 2023

NAPCE News – December 2023

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

LEAD ARTICLE: “Working Together with Children to Support their Pastoral Care by NAPCE’s Luke Ramsden

Working Together with Children to Support their Pastoral Care – by Luke Ramsden

Very often any writing about school pastoral care can focus on what teachers can do for children in a way which makes the child appear very much as a passive recipient of care – waiting to be rescued from whatever difficult situation they find themselves in.

Yet with pastoral concerns for young people remaining stubbornly high in a post-covid world, and with resources ever-more stretched in schools, the key to effective pastoral care in schools must lie in helping students to help themselves.

What then should pastoral leaders in schools be looking to do help build resilience and pastoral understanding in their students as we start this new calendar year?

1) Safeguarding and pastoral education

Knowing what happens when a safeguarding referral is made can empower children and, crucially, make them much more confident in making a disclosure to a member of staff.

Understanding the process demystifies what can often seem confusing and secretive. When children understand the steps that are taken, and the purpose behind interventions, it gives them a greater sense of control if they make a disclosure.

More specifically outlining which agencies are notified depending upon the concern raised, what information gets shared and what follow-up might occur all helps to minimize fears that children might naturally have.  Most importantly, explaining the referral process emphasises that the purpose is to protect children and not to punish or blame them.

Removing the stigma around making a referral and reassuring children that they can trust external agencies that might be working with them are vital to facilitate disclosures of safeguarding concerns.

In the same way it is also invaluable to explain a school’s own internal processes.

All too often when there is an issue in terms of behaviour or bullying it is not possible for teachers to explain in detail what has actually happened because of the need to respect the privacy of all the children involved.

Explaining why this information cannot be shared at least reassures children why this system is not as open as they might like. In addition, broader information about what is happening in the school can be explained to the children very helpfully.

So, for instance, a regular misconception of school children is that whenever bullying concerns are raised they will instantly be dealt with as a serious disciplinary incident and a school will give out disproportionate sanctions and make the situation worse.

Letting children know broadly the number of bullying incidents that are actually dealt with without resort to disciplinary proceedings will help reassure children that teachers will be thoughtful in their response to concerns.

2) Ensure that student’s PSHE education is relevant and supports them in facing real-life problems

As well as helping students feel more confident in disclosing their problems to school, it is important to give children the tools to be able to build their resilience to the pastoral challenges that they will inevitably face in their time at school (and beyond).

A particularly important skill that schools are more frequently including in their PSHE is teaching mental health literacy.

Strategies like active listening, reassurance, crisis di-escalation and guiding others to professional help, gives young people invaluable skills to help struggling friends or family, and themselves.

In particular it can give them the confidence to have tough conversations or to make interventions that could be so important in supporting others in the school community.

Likewise comprehensive, judgement-free relationship and sex education exploring healthy relationships, consent, LGBTQ+ identities, contraceptives and so on enables young people to make safe and informed choices about their sexual health.

Other PSHE topics like finance literacy, media literacy, drug and alcohol awareness and time management techniques also give young people strategies to support themselves, and each other, in their time at school.

Learning to self-regulate and manage the complex challenges that life can pose is invaluable for schools to be able to set alongside the direct help that they can provide to students.

3) Provide Student mentors

Another way in which schools can build resilience for the students is to have a mentoring system where older children offer mentoring support to those in younger year groups.

For the younger child, having an older role model gives them someone to look up to who is closer in age and more relatable than an adult authority figure.

The mentor can help a younger student navigate social situations, understand school rules and expectations better as well having someone to talk to if they have particular problems.

Knowing they have a mentor to turn to builds confidents in the younger child and helps them feel cared for an supported.

At the same time, serving as a mentor builds leadership abilities in the older pupil, and reinforces lessons on compassion and responsibility.

With training provided by the school on listening skills and when to report concerns that might be safeguarding issues, this experience of mentoring steers the older pupil towards modelling good behaviours for impressionable younger children.

In addition the very act of mentoring reinforces lessons for older students as they must explain rules, expectations and good habits to their mentees.

Of course over time a mentoring programme also develops the sense of a community among the students of the schools, with the younger children growing up with an expectation that they in turn will become mentors for the new generation of pupils.

4) Use technology thoughtfully to help support, and engage with young people

With AI and other forms of technology a source of excitement as much as anxiety for leaders in education, going into a new year there are many positive ways that technology can be used to support student mental health and pastoral care in schools.

There are a number of online reporting platforms that allow students to ‘check in’ with their teachers to report safeguarding, wellbeing or bullying concerns.

These can be invaluable for students who do not feel comfortable talking to a member of staff in person during the school day.

In addition there is often an opportunity to allow for anonymous reporting which can further encourage students to make a report of a concern if they would not be confident enough to do so if they could be identified.

A particular benefit using these sorts of platforms in conjunction with schools is that student use of these platforms across the school and over the course of time can be analysed and patterns and trends of wellbeing can be noted and reacted to by the school.

So, for instance, if a number of students are noting lack of sleep as a particular problem then school might run some extra PSHE sessions on this and talk to parents about looking to support their children in improving bedtime routines.

In terms of developing resilience there are also a growing number of mental health apps which can offer many different forms of support, from helping students to have relaxation times with deep breathing and relaxing music to giving them coping strategies for anxiety/depression to helping them access information and resources and also accessing support directly via these apps.

These apps can also help students to assess their own mental health, giving them the opportunity to think about their own ‘zones of regulation’ and prompt them to understand when it would be wise for them to seek external support.

One such app, Kooth, works with the NSH and is freely available to any school student in the UK.

These apps can be particularly vital as crisis response tools as they ensure that young people always have the correct emergency contact information for suicide/self-harm prevention hotlines as well as other emergency service information.

In all of these ways school leaders can look to ensure that young people are developing their own sense of resilience in a way that not only enhances their own sense of wellbeing but that will also help to reduce pressure on the increasingly stretched resources that schools have to support the wellbeing and pastoral support of their pupils.

Luke Ramsden
NEC Member

ARTICLE: NAPCE Chair Phil Jones  on “2023 – A Busy Year Supporting Pastoral Care”

A Busy Year in 2023 Supporting Pastoral Care – Christmas Message from NAPCE Chair Phil Jones

As we approach Christmas and a new year it is an opportunity to reflect on the activities of the Association in 2023.

NAPCE has continued to engage with professionals in education and to raise awareness about the important contribution pastoral care and support makes to children and young people’s learning experience.

NAPCE was once again a partner with the Association of School and College Leaders in the planning and delivery of the Conference for Pastoral Leaders in Manchester in January.

I was pleased to be invited as a speaker and to share ideas with other speakers and delegates about the challenges being faced by staff in pastoral roles in schools.

It was brilliant to have pastoral leaders in large numbers in the same room all with the same determination to provide the best possible learning experience for children and young people.

NAPCE once again supported the 2023 Safer Internet Day by contributing to planning meetings and I represented the Association at the online events on the day.

It was great to see past and present members of NAPCE at the Anniversary Dinner in March to celebrate the 40 years that NAPCE has been actively engaged in encouraging approaches to education that support the welfare, well -being, achievement and personal development of children and young people.

The NAPCE conference in March brought together professionals to share ideas about pastoral care and to listen to guest speakers that included an HMI and psychologist that stimulated discussions about current issues.

The online conference had the title ‘Pastoral Care that Makes a Difference’.

Delegates who attended came from across the United Kingdom and from overseas and listened to speakers sharing their expert knowledge about a wide range of educational issues.

It was brilliant to attend the symposium in Belfast organised by NAPCE  in June in partnership with Stranmillis University College and to meet so many educational professionals who, through their care and support for learners, wanted to make a difference in their achievement and future life chances.

The National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2023 were a huge success with a record number of nominations received.

The presentation event was a memorable evening where judges, sponsors, members and finalists gathered to recognise and celebrate the good practice highlighted.

In October it was a proud moment for the Association when the book ‘Pastoral Care in Education. New Directions for New Times’, edited by NAPCE members was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

This book will be an important starting point for debate in the future about the importance of pastoral care in education for researchers, writers, policy makers and practitioners.

The National Executive Committee have continued to volunteer their time and expertise to share ideas and plans for the Association.

Other members of the Association have contributed their time and expertise to the Editorial Board to ensure that the international reputation of the journal ‘Pastoral Care in Education’ continues to grow.

With so much to be positive about it must also be recognised that there are growing concerns about education in the United Kingdom and in other countries in the world.

As a National Association it is important that we continue to contribute our experience and expertise to discussions about the future of education in the best interest of all children and young people.

The concerns include.

  • Children and young people not attending school.
  • Parents choosing alternatives to mainstream education for their children.
  • Teacher shortages.
  • The gap between disadvantaged learners and their peers.
  • Severe funding pressures.
  • Well-being and mental health.

The results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey were reported in the TES magazine on 6th December.

This survey completed every three years and organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) compares student outcomes between high and middle-income countries.

The report showed that although international rankings have improved in Maths and reading since 2018, scores fell for the test taken in 2022 by 15-year-old students in the United Kingdom.

Concern for pastoral care in schools was that the UK was worse than average for well-being. A quarter of UK students (25 per cent) said that they were not satisfied with their lives compared with the OECD average of 18 per cent.

It was interesting that the survey found in the UK that there was more performance variation within schools than between them.

This raises questions about whether comparing the performance of schools is exploring the reasons why some learners perform better than others.

The Times newspaper reported in December that secondary school teaching recruits have hit a record shortfall.

Only half as many secondary school trainee teachers have been recruited as are needed in England this year.

The figures from the Department for Education showed that the figures for primary trainee teachers are better but there is still a shortage.

The problem is that producing the figures does not help schools or the learners in their care and what is needed is for somebody to ask why, and by understanding the causes find solutions that work.

At the same time the media was reporting on the Pisa survey, BBC news also reported that an Ofsted inspection was likely to have contributed to the death of a headteacher who took her own life after a negative inspection experience.

The Coroner commented after the hearing that the inspection “lacked fairness, respect and sensitivity” and was at times “rude and intimidating”.

Accountability is positive if it leads to improvements for the benefit of learners.

It can be argued that what is needed is what I would call ‘intelligent accountability’ which recognises strengths and weaknesses and provides the motivation and inspiration for developments in the future for the benefit of learners.

Clearly something is not right in education in the United Kingdom currently and in other countries in the world.

The situation cannot be blamed entirely on the pandemic, the wars in Ukraine and Palestine or the energy price crisis.

There is a need to reflect on whether the current approach of blaming individual schools for poor performance encourages improvements.

Is it time to consider whether it is the current system and in particular the values and beliefs in the system that are having a negative impact on the learning experience for children and young people.

Is it time for an educational system that values creativity and innovation and believes that this is more important than achieving conformity through fear and punitive approaches.

Effective pastoral care in schools provides the foundation for a learning experience that is focused on developing people as human beings.

A more humane approach to education which focuses on the needs of children and young people is more likely to be relevant to their current and future lives and inspire and motivate them to achieve their full potential.

Research is needed into the skills and attributes that learners need to achieve success in the modern world.

Practitioners need to be brave and challenge punitive approaches that have a negative impact on learners’ motivation at school.

Parents need to ensure that their children are not just numbers in a system, but are having their needs met in preparation for their future lives in modern society.

This raises many questions about what should be the values and beliefs of an educational system that is relevant to children and young people in the 21st century.

Pastoral care has an important role in developing a culture in schools that supports learners in being able to thrive and succeed.

I hope you will contribute to this important educational debate as a member of NAPCE.

The new membership year starts in January and as an institution, school, or individual member of the Association you can support its work to provide future generations with a relevant learning experience.

Events planned for 2024 include an online event with speakers and invited experts in pastoral care discussing pastoral care issues and sharing ideas.

A conference will bring together people who share an interest in pastoral care in education to share good practice and discuss current challenges.

Later in the year we can once again look forward to the Presentation Event for the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2024 to recognise and celebrate the difference that effective pastoral care makes in the learning experience and future lives of children and young people.

For more information about membership of NAPCE please go to or email

Finally on behalf of NAPCE I would like to thank you for your interest and contribution to pastoral care in education and wish you a very enjoyable Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Phil Jones
National Chair
The National Association for Pastoral Care in Education

BBC News online, (2023). ‘Ruth Perrry. ‘Ofsted Inspection ‘contributed’ to head teacher’s death’, at
Norden. Jasmine. (2023). ‘UK’s Pisa scores fall   in maths, science and reading. TES Magazine December 5th 2023
Woolcock. Nicola, (2023) ‘Secondary school teaching recruits hit record shortfall’. Times newspaper December 8th 2023.

AWARDS: Great Practice from the NAPCE Awards 2023 – Episode 2


The National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2023 – Sharing Good Practice 

The NAPCE Awards 2023 was an amazing success, bigger than ever with a record number of entries and a sold-out event.

Every year we share a huge number of great examples of excellent practice in pastoral care and we’re proud to share some of these with you in NAPCE News which may help guide and inspire your own work.

For this second episode we’re focussing on the category Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care.
Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral CareThis award is for A person, group or organisation that has made a real difference in pastoral care, for the benefit of young people.

In 2023 it was sponsored by Sponsored by Eileen Donnelly Educational Development Limited.

Based in Northern Ireland Eileen Donnelly educational development limited Supports Teachers’ and students’ personal, social, and emotional development to help them achieve success. It provides programmes on health and wellbeing, self – care strategies and personal effectiveness.

The winner for 2023, announced at the grand presentation event in Worcester, in September was Mohammed Adam from Manchester Academy, which you may find useful.

Here are some of the comments that were made about the 2023 winner of this award in the nomination.

Mohammed Adam is Manchester Academy’s School Family Liaison Officer and provides a direct link between Parents/Carers whose first language is not English. He speaks fluent Somali and Arabic and is available in school daily to bridge that gap in communication. There are more than 80% EAL students in school at Manchester Academy, and approximately seventy languages are spoken. He has also helped out on numerous occasions with translating documents for our website, so they are more accessible to our Parents/Carers, including assisting with translations for our latest prospectus. During the period of the two national lockdowns, Mohammed Adam’s work across our local community was of huge importance in terms of supporting families with food parcels, contact with other agencies and supporting the wider Safeguarding effort to ensure that students working remotely were engaging and remaining safe online.

Last year, Mohammed spent some time in Somalia visiting family. During this visit to Somalia, Mohammed has helped to establish a school in his ancestral village which caters for approximately 150 pupils per day. These youngsters had previously gathered under the shade of trees to access learning opportunities, but now, thanks to Mohammed and others he has worked with to secure the success of this project, students now have a building to attend every day. 

Here are some of the comments made in the nominations for the other finalists in this category.

Lads Like Us

Lads Like Us are inspirational because they talk from personal experience.
Their message is challenging because it highlights how they as young men had been let down by the system. They raise awareness about the important role that pastoral care has in schools to support the personal development of young people and to keep them safe.

Lads like Us, is a Manchester based non-profit making organisation with a mission to inform the practice of professionals working in roles supporting the personal development of young people. Their approach is to engage the empathy of professionals to improve understanding about the challenges that some young people face in their daily lives and the support that they need. This is valuable information for pastoral leaders in school to inform decisions about how to develop appropriate pastoral systems and structures that provide a safe learning environment and support all learners in managing risks. Lads Like Us highlight the need for effective pastoral care in schools by explaining the difficulties caused by trauma in the lives of young people and by not having the support to deal with negative experiences.

They communicate a powerful message for professionals working in schools, that ‘nobody asked why’. This is not meant as a criticism of hard-working staff but of a system that sees negative behaviour as a problem and not as a symptom of the life experiences of a young person. They use the concept of ‘professional curiosity’ which is helpful for understanding how staff is schools can support young people. It challenges the view that some staff may have that they are not ‘social workers’ but encourages the view that what is needed, are pastoral systems that take an interest in the young people in the care of schools. By raising awareness of the reality of the daily lives of young people, Lads Like Us are making a difference in improving the life chances of young people. 

Sacred Heart PS, Derry

Sacred Heart PS is a large Primary School in the Waterside area of Derry City. Over 35% of pupils are in receipt of free school meals and the area is classed as one with high levels of social deprivation.  In recent times, and especially following on from the COVID-19 pandemic, the school identified a need for the pastoral care team to focus on day-to-day neglect issues that teachers and families were facing. These issues did not necessarily meet the threshold for ‘Child Protection,’ but they were enough to concern teachers and our wider school community. Issues that teachers were facing regularly included children coming to school having had no breakfast, children coming to school not adequately prepared for the school day with no homework completed and no snack for breaktime, children whose uniforms needed washed, children whose personal hygiene was being neglected etc.

Initiatives to date include:  

  • Toast Time: whereby every child in the school receives free breakfast three times per week. Funding was provided by local businesses.
  • A winter clothing drive in November 2022. Parents and friends of the school donated winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves that they no longer used, and the school used these items to create the school’s very first free pop-up shop. 
  • A well-being day for all children in the school in February 2023. This day consisted of yoga, mindfulness, Zumba, sporting activities, gymnastics. The feedback from pupils was extremely positive. – 
  • Extra break items to give to children daily. – We attracted the attention of ‘The Irish Times’ when the Pastoral Care Team set up a 
  • ‘First Holy Communion’ Pop up shop. Similar to the winter clothing drive, the idea was that parents donated used First Holy Communion dresses/suits, in order to help those who may not have been able to afford the extra expense, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.

Heather Tuffs, Nidderdale High School

Heather has introduced a local Community Project to Nidderdale High School that gives students in all year groups the opportunity to go out of school and volunteer in the community of Pateley Bridge and the surrounding villages. Students can work 1:1 with Heather or in small groups. Students are invited to participate in the project through the Pastoral Team. Referrals are made to Heather by considering many different aspects of a young person’s school and personal life. The aim of the community project is to give young people the opportunity to experience a sense of self-worth and recognition and to give them time away from school in a completely different environment where they can develop new skills and gain confidence. For some young people who have lost their identity and are questioning the purpose of their lives, this project has been lifesaving and life affirming.

The Community Project gives students opportunities to volunteer with local businesses and also to support elderly and vulnerable people through a wide range of activities. These include the delivery of prescriptions from the local pharmacy and grocery deliveries from a local store. Through the voluntary work, the young people get to know the residents, and this has enabled students to develop further volunteering opportunities. Some students have been able to offer to take residents who are housebound out of their homes for short walks. The Community Project can give a young person a different focus and help them to see that they can make a huge difference in the life of another person. For students, the Community Project is a way to gain experience in teamwork and communication. It may be that there have been difficulties between students socially or through social media and the project offers students time away from school to address any issues that are preventing them from working or socialising well.

B6        Girls on Board

Girls on Board originated at Thorpe Hall School in 2017 and is an approach which helps girls, their parents, and their teachers to understand the complexities and dynamics of girl friendships. The language, methods and ideas empower girls to solve their own friendship problems and recognises that they are usually the only ones who can. By empowering girls to find their own solutions, parents need worry less, schools can focus more on the curriculum and the girls learn more effectively – because they are happier. Girls on Board is delivered through empathy-evoking sessions which, first and foremost, acknowledge that the quest for trusting and reliable friendships is of paramount importance to girls in school. It also acknowledges that often, when teachers get involved in friendship turbulence, it can make it worse, not better for the girls. At least, that is what the girls have told us time and time again!

The impact of using the approach is summed up well by one Headteacher who wrote: We have been using Girls on Board for over three years and it is evident that our students have benefitted from the workshops, follow-up sessions, and key language in many ways, not least to help them feel happy, supported, and successful at school. Our girls are clearly more confident, caring and collaborative through having Girls on Board available and it is without a doubt one of the best programmes I have worked with to support young people. Over one thousand schools and 4,500 teachers have trained and adopted the approach across the UK and the world and are now supporting tens of thousands of girls in their friendships. Girls on Board offers comprehensive training, both at face-to-face events and online, to enable teachers in school to adopt the approach.

Congratulations for everybody nominated for Pastoral Member of year in 2023. The nominations for the 2024 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education are now open. All the details are available on the NAPCE website Follow the link to make a nomination to recognise and value contributions to good practice in pastoral care in education.

Making a nomination for the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2024 organised by NAPCE.

It is easy to make a nomination for the Awards to recognise good practice in the eight categories and it only takes a few minutes.
Here is some guidance on how to make your nomination.

  • Go to and click on the link for the awards.
  • This takes you to the page where you can make your nomination.
  • Read the information about the criteria for each category.
  • Provide your contact details as the nominee and the name of the person or organisation you are nominating with their email contact details on the form provided.
  • Click on the button to select the appropriate category for your nomination.
  • In the box provided provide information and any evidence to support you nomination.

You can make a nomination for another person or organisation, or self-nominations are also welcome.

You have 750 word available to describe the reasons for your nomination to the judges.

You do not have to use all 750 words and the best nominations are concise and clear.

Explain what makes your nomination an example of good practice.

Describe how it makes a difference in the learning experience of children and young people.

Give examples of actions that have been taken and outcomes that have been achieved.

Explain why you are proud of this nomination.

Make your nomination now to recognise good practice and achievements in pastoral care in education.

AWARDS: Meet the NAPCE Awards 2024 Judges 

NAPCE Awards 2024 – Meet the Judges

It happens on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ so why should pastoral care be any different.

It is time to meet the judges for the 2024 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

When the nominations close on 19th April 2024 the judges will be sent all the nominations, and they will mark them independently.

The scores will then be collated, and the finalists will be announced later in the year ahead of a glitzy presentation ceremony in the autumn.

Jill Robson

National Secretary for the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education. Retired Secondary School Headteacher.

Professor Noel Purdy

Director of Research and Scholarship, Director of Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement at Stranmillis University College, Belfast.

Margaret Mulholland

ASCL specialist in special educational needs and inclusion for the Association of School and College Leaders.

Dr Julianne Brown

NAPCE National Executive member. Worked in International Schools in Switzerland as the Well-being and pastoral care co-ordinator.

Professor Anne Emerson

Associate Professor, University of Nottingham. researching in the areas of special educational needs, disabilities, and inclusion.

Dr Caron Carter

Senior Lecturer in Childhood & Early Childhood Education & Postgraduate Research Tutor in Education at Sheffield Hallam University.

EVENT: NAPCE Chair Phil Jones to Speak at ASCL Conference for Pastoral Leaders 2024

We are delighted to be partnering with ASCL again for the ASCL Conference for Pastoral Leaders 2024.

NAPCE Chair Phil Jones is amongst the panel of expert speakers joining the event at The Birmingham Conference and Events Centre (BCEC) on 29th January, 2024.

The theme for. the new year conference us “Taking a proactive approach to pastoral leadership”

At the ASCL Conference for Pastoral Leaders 2024, they will be looking at how pastoral leaders, DSLs, Inclusion leads in schools and across trusts deal with constantly changing priorities.

This event will support leaders to strengthen systems and processes and enable improvement, adopting a proactive rather than reactive response to competing educational demands.

It is a fantastic opportunity to focus on current whole school priorities of attendance, behaviour and inclusion and how they relate to rising SEND, mental health & wellbeing and disadvantage gaps.

This Conference will enable Pastoral Leaders to strengthen school provision and practice.

Meet the Speakers
Dr Kaitlyn Regehr, Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at UCL, who will be identifying the escalating challenges, despite an online safety act, of online misogyny and what schools can be doing to respond effectively.
Victoria Raynor, Safeguarding Consultant will be exploring the practical approaches that schools must adopt to safeguarding and strengthen wellbeing.
ASCL Specialist, Tom Middlehurst will review pastoral priorities for Ofsted inspections.
Panel experts will include Phil Jones NAPCE and ASCL Council leaders.

For more information and tickets follow this link:

The team at NAPCE would like offer to our sincere thanks to all of our readers. You play a key role in the development of NAPCE and the education community at large. A key part of our mission statement is to continue to expand the NAPCE community. If your staff team are not ‘pastoral care aware’ please send on the link below to your colleagues. The more we share, the more we can make a positive difference to young peoples’ wellbeing throughout their school education experience.
Click here: An Introduction to Pastoral Care

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