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 www.napce.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The National Association for Pastoral Care in Education
BBC News online, (2023). ‘Ruth Perrry. ‘Ofsted Inspection ‘contributed’ to head teacher’s death’, at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-67639942
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.