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NAPCE News – February 2022

NAPCE News – February 2022

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

FEATURE ARTICLE: “A Kestrel for a Knave” – NAPCE’s Dr Noel Purdy Reflects on the How Relevant This Popular Novel Could Be Today in Pastoral Care

A Kestrel for a Knave – Reflections on Pastoral Care by Dr Noel Purdy

Recently I have been re-reading Barry Hines’ 1968 novel Kestrel for a Knave, the story of Billy Casper, a young working-class boy who finds and trains a kestrel (Kes).

Adapted into a film Kes directed by Ken Loach the following year, both the novel and the film have developed an international fan base that extends far beyond Barnsley and Yorkshire, with the novel studied by thousands of pupils every year on the GCSE English literature specification, and clips from the film now appearing regularly on social media channels.

The enduring appeal of the story can be seen in a heart-warming 2019 BBC documentary by comedian (and former teacher) Greg Davies and by the recent unveiling of a statue of ‘Billy’ in Barnsley by Dai Bradley (who played him in the 1968 film) in memory of Barry Hines.

The story itself is dark, gritty, unforgiving in its portrayal of a troubled family in a working-class mining community where prospects are limited, aspirations low and discipline harsh by today’s standards.

The portrayal of school is overwhelmingly negative.

We see a regime controlled by corporal punishment, imposed without conscience by the merciless headmaster Mr Gryce (an innocent messenger boy is caned and is physically sick as a result); where teachers are portrayed as largely humourless (after calling out the name ‘Fisher’ as part of the class roll call, Mr Crossley fails to appreciate Billy shouting out ‘German Bight’ which caused him to make a mistake on the roll book); and where physical and verbal bullying are rife, meted out by both pupils and teachers.

Billy is bullied by his older brother Jud as well as other boys in school and there is little that Billy’s mother or teachers at school are able or willing to do to stop it.

In a flashback near the end of the novel, we learn that Billy’s father had left home, having discovered his wife having an affair with ‘Uncle Mick’, meaning that Billy is also teased by other boys for coming from a single parent household and for his mother subsequently having other partners.

Even the humour of the famous football match scene where Mr Sugden, resplendent in his Denis Law Manchester United strip, plays and cheats his way to victory, is tinged with cruelty as Billy is humiliated by being forced to wear oversized shorts that pull up to his neck, and is then forced into freezing cold showers by Sugden who positions other boys to block his escape.

And of course, the story concludes with Jud killing Kes, Billy’s pride and joy, as a thoughtless act of revenge for Billy failing to place a winning bet.

The book is a tough, disturbing read.  I have been reading the story with my 12 year old son whose standard responses have alternated between “Did that really happen in those days?” and “That’s a terrible Yorkshire accent, dad!”

And yet, I couldn’t help but search for some glimmers of hope in an otherwise joyless working-class world.

Aside from the new passion for life that Billy discovers through training the kestrel hawk, the only other glimmer of light I have found is in the character of Mr Farthing, the only teacher who seems to take any genuine pastoral interest in Billy, who gives him the opportunity to speak in front of his peers about training his hawk, and who goes to watch Billy fly Kes one lunchtime.

What we see here is the essence of pastoral care through the importance of relationship, the giving of opportunity to develop, and the resulting sense of pride and mutual respect that emerge.

When Billy speaks in front of his classmates, he captivates them with his knowledge and passion, and he is able to spell out specific vocabulary without fault (jesses, swivel, leash) that he has learned from devouring the book on falconry he stole from the local bookshop.

For me at least, this is my favourite scene of the whole novel and talks to themes of pupil engagement, curricular relevance and opportunities to flourish.

So what can we learn of any relevance to today from a 1960s novel set in a small Yorkshire mining community?

As Dai Bradley said at the unveiling of the statue of Billy and Kes in Barnsley in November 2021, this short novel about a boy and his kestrel is known right across the world, and, importantly, “a lot of young people look towards Billy for support when they’re having problems in their early life through bullying or problems at school”.

Some of our NAPCE members will know much more than me about gritty Yorkshire mining towns, and perhaps more about falconry too, but perhaps I could encourage you to re-read and rediscover the pastoral importance of a much-loved story.

If this has sparked an interest, feel free to get in touch.

Dr Noel Purdy
Stranmillis University College, Belfast
Deputy Editor, Pastoral Care in Education

ARTICLE: Virtually Nothing is Impossible: Pastoral Approaches to Online Safety by NAPCE Member Dominic Riste

Virtually nothing is impossible: Pastoral Approaches to Online Safety by Dominic Riste

Caring for the personal development of young people is both a fundamentally worthy and complicated endeavour.

Worthy because it takes a responsibility for social, emotional and personal growth, complicated because it encompasses a wide range of variables that shape an individual’s growth such as beliefs, core values, home life, motivation and experiences.

As a result, pastoral care must be adaptable, embedded robustly (across a school or institution) and constantly evolving.

One of the most significant developments and source of continuous advancements that are transmitted into the lives of young people are the influences and risks inherent in their online activities.

As an influential source of knowledge and communication it exerts significant influence over how young people perceive themselves and their own personal development.

In the UK, the recent updates to the regulation of the online world, implemented to strengthen the Online Safety Bill, are portrayed as a preventative approach to tackling harmful behaviours.

The new measures are accredited with making it easier, more efficient and quicker to identify offenders as well as holding social media companies to account and increasing their responsibility to deter and prevent misuse while protecting their users more effectively.

In essence they mirror the proactive approach that effective pastoral care takes to educate and protect young people about online safety.

Supporting young people to navigate the intricately spun (and sometimes adhesively addictive) content of the world wide web has proactivity at its heart.

A degree of openness is required with all stakeholders.

The sharing of information with parents, children and teachers is fundamental, highlighting both the positive and potentially negative facets of apps, websites and social media platforms.

Often the hazards that exist online – disingenuous profiles, cyberbullying and invasion of privacy thrive – thrive when unacknowledged and covert.

The need for openness extends into having a supportive approach where young people feel that issues they experience online are listened to and taken seriously and met with understanding and support.

It is this need that asks all stakeholders to grapple with the question: How can we protect our young people online without simply limiting access or independence?

If we are to trust and encourage this openness in young people when they are online, then pastoral care must compliment this with education and empowerment.

The skills that are promoted, nurtured and developed in young people are vital in empowering them to navigate the risks of the internet.

Encouraging transferable skills, such as the ability to think critically, are now an even more important aspect of personal development.

If we are to accept that the online world commands a role in influencing a young person’s values, sense of self, confidence, views and potentially their identity, the capability of determining the accuracy, reliability and bias of information becomes a personal safety defense.

Given the private and personal nature of phone and internet, young people need to be able to exercise the often difficult skill of critical thinking independently.

Across the curriculum and interactions with young people we can encourage them to think independently and value the critical skills necessary to use the internet for its considerable potential and advantages.

Planning across subjects can consider questions such as, how can I develop critical thinkers around my subject area?

From the perspective of teaching English, how can recognising perspective and viewpoint be embedded more explicitly as a learning objective?

In History, how can the influence of bias be explored?

How can young people explore the reliability and trustworthiness of sources?

How can we engage with contextual and current affairs in a way that highlights the need for criticality and awareness when looking at the influence of perspective?

Ultimately, this implies the need for a holistic and embedded approach that does not resemble a tack on, tick box or isolated initiative.

Contextually, the use of technology and the internet is not a separate and additional component to the lives of young people, it is entrenched in the fabric of their lives, therefore the pastoral care that advises and educates young people about online opportunities, risks and realities must be similarly embedded when considering their personal development.

Felicitously (for this article) February sees the celebration of Internet Safety Day, which promotes the safe use of digital technology with an emphasis on the considerable power of using the internet positively.

The occasion marks an opportunity to encourage a national conversation around the critical, creative and courteous use of technology, yet it must also be at the forefront of regular pastoral work.

Equipping young people is a year-round as well as a worthy and complicated endeavour.

Dominic Riste

ARTICLE: Using Data to Create Effective Strategies in Schools by NAPCE Award Winner Luke Ramsden

Using Data to Create Effective Strategies in Schools by Luke Ramsden

All schools have understood the benefits of using data to track the academic progress of their students (and the performance of their different departments) for many years now.

Detailed evaluation of performance is now a standard part of every school’s strategy for ensuring the best possible results.

In doing this schools are paralleling companies and many other organisations in realising the importance of using data to inform their strategies.

There are two potential problems, though, that need to be understood to ensure that data can be used really effectively in the planning of a whole-school strategy.

The first of these is that, understandably enough, many school leaders and governors have not had much training in data analysis and so do not always find themselves that comfortable in evaluating the growing quantities of data being thrown at them.

For instance, school leaders can sometimes make decisions on data without fully understanding the concept of Statistical Significance.

To give a common example, many schools will use the number of students getting an Oxbridge offer as a benchmark of academic success.

However, with a few exceptions, the numbers applying are so small each year that they do not make a statistically significant sample.

In comparison those getting offers to Russell Group universities which is probably a much larger sample is a far better measure as it does not depend much on the fortunes of each individual student.

The second problem is that, while senior teams have a clear focus on academic data to create a forward-thinking and clearly planned strategy, data in other areas of school life often remains relatively neglected.

This is despite the fact that the introduction of software to record and categorise behavioural and pastoral issues are increasingly used, giving schools at least as much data to analyse here as in the academic sphere.

Using data on attendance

Attendance is a good example of an area of school life where seemingly simple data records of attendance need to be evaluated and contextualised with care.

All schools already closely monitor student attendance through their registers.

Indeed, a document published in January by the Department for Education, New measures to increase school attendance means that ‘Schools are … being asked from today to sign up to a new daily attendance data collection trial. Data  will be gathered  directly from school registers, reducing administrative work and potentially helping schools, academy trusts, local authorities and central Government spot and address system-wide issues more quickly.’

Yet, while collecting raw attendance data is clearly important to monitor and challenge low attendance, a number of recent news stories have highlighted the issue of schools punishing poor attendance even when there might be a very good pastoral or medical explanation for absence.

It seems common sense that, in order to understand attendance data fully, schools should incorporate contextual information to understand why attendance might be low.

For instance, students with low attendance due to anxiety or other mental health concerns could be given a separate category of attendance to contextualise and explain this low attendance.

The same could be done for students with documented physical health concerns that have also led to low attendance.

In that way schools can ensure they are challenging poor attendance while also being mindful of students’ pastoral concerns.

Similarly, if attendance data is contextualised like this schools can ensure that they can plan a really effective strategy to improve attendance levels.

So, for instance, if a large number of absentee students have documented mental health concerns then school investment in mental health support such as school counselling will be more effective than fines on parents in improving attendance.

Behaviour tracking

In the same way as schools already have a lot of raw data on attendance, schools will also generally have a lot of data on behaviour through the noting of detentions, suspensions and exclusions.

Again, though, the important thing is to be able to process and evaluate this data so that it becomes useful information for school leaders and governors.

A good example of this is in interpreting an increase in the number of detentions in a school.

A simplistic reading of the data that the number of detentions rose in a term or a year could just be to assume that it means that behaviour has grown worse in the school as more students must be misbehaving.

Yet it could also be that the behaviour policy has changed in an attempt to improve behaviour and so it is easier to get a detention, and also perhaps that teachers have been asked to be more vigilant for poor behaviour and so it is being more widely reported.

The dilemma this gives schools can be seen in the wake of last year’s Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges.

All teachers will be much more vigilant in looking out for these cases, and also in recording them as this is now a requirement for inspection.

This will lead to an increase in peer on peer abuse cases recorded by many schools, but whilst superficial reading of this data by school governors or inspectors might seem to indicate a school with growing problems in this area in fact it shows that the school is doing absolutely the right thing with an increasing number of cases recorded.

In terms of developing wider school strategies the real opportunity that comes from behavioural data comes from using the broader pattern of behaviour events to evaluate what school policies have had a positive impact and what strategies are likely to work in the future.

So, for instance, if bullying cases are recorded it might be that over the years a clear pattern can be seen that bullying cases peak at a particular time of year.

This can allow the school to act pre-emptively the next year by ensuring that there are anti-bullying assemblies at that time of year, that there are extra teachers on duty to monitor behaviour and so on.

The more data that is being collected the more targeted this can be, so for instance if you collect data on where incidents happen, you can look to target particular ‘hot spots’ for poor behaviour where teachers are on duty or even work to develop the site, perhaps opening up or just redecorating a forgotten corner of the campus where students felt unobserved.

Pastoral tracking

Schools have not historically made a habit of collecting purely pastoral concerns in the form of data that can be processed and evaluated.

However, the ubiquity of MyConcern, CPOMS and other online pastoral systems mean that schools now have a tremendous new opportunity here as well to be just as well-informed here as in all other areas of school life.

As with academic and behaviour tracking the most significant element of this is that it allows senior leaders to develop a school strategy of pastoral care that can pre-empt issues in the future rather than just reacting to events as they occur.

So if a school saw a particular spike in anxiety cases in their year 9 students then the PSHE programme for the next year could be tailored to have a greater number of lessons looking at mental health first aid, and tutors for the next academic year could have specific training to help them support that year group.

Again, like behaviour management, the more detailed the data is the better use the school can make of it, so ensuring that pastoral data is clearly categorised is crucial.

So if it was clear that anxiety concerns in year 9 were largely about academic achievement or largely post-covid anxiety about attendance this would allow even more specific support to be put in place for the students to support those issues.

Over the years broader long-term trends can also be seen, and quantified, far more clearly when keeping pastoral records online and the broader strategic needs of the school identified.

So in a school where it is felt that there might be a need for great counselling provision the senior team can quickly and easily identify the numbers of cases each year which would have benefitted from this and see exactly how much that need has grown over the preceding years.

It is clear then that there are huge opportunities for schools to take advantage of the vast amounts of data being collected by the electronic systems that they use, but that all of this data needs to be evaluated and used intelligently so that it moves from being raw data to useful information.

Luke Ramsden
Senior Deputy Head
St Benedict’s School, London

ARTICLE: Using Data Insights to Positively Impact Pastoral Care by Alex Kyriacou of UOK

Using Data Insights To Positively Impact Pastoral Care

You could be forgiven for seeing the word data in the title of this article and swiftly scrolling on.

But the reality is that our lives today are dominated by it, so we should be asking how we can harness it to positively impact pastoral care?

No amount of technology, AI or software will replace human interaction and meaningful conversations when it comes to addressing wellbeing issues.

But if used correctly and in a way that is tailored to the environment, data insights can be a valuable tool to aid interventions, early or ongoing.

It is important that we make a distinction between two types of data, Big Data and Small Data.

Big Data, as the name suggests is high volume, super detailed and is often characterised as “massive chunks of unstructured information”.

Small Data connects people with timely, meaningful insights, neatly presented to be accessible, understandable, and most importantly actionable.

For the purpose of this article, our focus is very much on small data.

In the education sector where time and resources are precious, producing a never-ending stack of data and asking staff to wade through it and find actionable solutions would be completely impractical.

You would be laughed out of the staffroom for even suggesting it.

Collecting detailed reports on wellbeing trends within student cohorts has its place but if it takes 3 months to collect and analyse the data to get these insights, is it worth it?

On one side of the coin, absolutely.

However, on the other, it leaves the window open for potential concerns to manifest and/or escalate.

Concerns that may have otherwise been picked up on if a different approach had been adopted.

In contrast the ability to review small chunks of insight into a student’s state of wellbeing and mental health throughout the academic year is an intriguing one, for obvious reasons.

How well are they sleeping? Are they feel supported by friends and family? Do they feel prepared for the week ahead?

These concise insights could help start more meaningful conversations, making an immediate impact where needed.

Whilst simultaneously promoting a student’s self-awareness, something that is unlikely to happen following a laborious 100 question survey.

But if small data insights are this brilliant and can aid early intervention so well, then why isn’t every school harnessing them?

The simple answer is that the means to do so in a way that is specifically tailored to the school environment, without impacting staff workload, hasn’t been readily available…until recently.

UOK Wellbeing
UOK Wellbeing is a start-up based out of Hertfordshire that has built a platform with the sole purpose of providing a way to capture these small data insights from students and present them to front line pastoral staff in a way that is easily actionable whilst being time and cost effective.

So how does it work?

In under 30 seconds students complete an engaging wellness check-in via the UOK app, where they provide a subjective rating to various pillars of wellbeing; Engagement, Motivation, Sleep, Positive Emotions etc.

The staff platform then has the capability to alert designated individuals (such as form tutors) when a potential concern is identified. As well as providing an clear visual overview of the ongoing wellbeing state of individuals.

If you are interested in providing such a tool for your pastoral staff, and would like a free trial of the platform, you can contact the UOK team via or find out more info on their website

Alex Kyriacou
UOK Wellbeing

MEMBERSHIP: Renewals for NAPCE 2022 Membership Are Being Sent Out

2022 Membership Renewals – NAPCE

Invitations are being sent out to NAPCE members to renew your membership for 2022.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education.

Special events including a weekend conference and Anniversary Dinner are planned to celebrate the 40 years that NAPCE has been supporting education.

Members will have priority for bookings so to make sure that you are fully involved in the Association’s special year renew your membership early and get the full benefits of being a member of NAPCE.

If you have shown your interest in the work of NAPCE by registering for the newsletter or following NAPCE on social media, then now is the time to become a member in time for the anniversary year. 

The National Executive have made the decision to NOT INCREASE THE PRICE OF MEMBERSHIP for 2022 and full membership includes a subscription for four copies of the academic journal to be delivered to your home address.

Taylor and Francis publishers manage the membership subscriptions on behalf of NAPCE and their contact details are T&F Customer Services, Sheepen Place, Colchester, CO3 3LP, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7017 5543 . Fax: +44 (0) 20 7017 5198 . Email: Contact Taylor and Francis to find out about the different ways that you can pay your subscription.

APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP –  Individual and Group memberships include a subscription to Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PCE) Published by Routledge

INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP including one copy of PCE Individual Subscription Rate £44 US$88 €57 NQT/Retired/Student Individual Rate £21 US$40 €33

GROUP MEMBERSHIP including two copies of PCE Group Subscription rate £66 US$132 €86 Primary/Special School Rate £43

ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP society membership only – does not include PCE subscription. Associate Subscription rate £10 US$16 €30

Follow this link to apply for membership RPED_NAPCEmembership-New.pdf ( or go to Apply Online – NAPCE to apply for membership online.

AWARDS: Entry for the NAPCE Awards 2022 is Now Open

Nominations are currently open for the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2022 organised by NAPCE.

The third annual NAPCE awards takes place in our 40th anniversary year for the Association and we are inviting everybody with a pastoral role or an interest in how pastoral care in education can support children and young people to achieve their full potential.

We are looking for the people, teams and organisations that make a real difference in the learning experience of children and young people and want to recognise their achievements and celebrate their good practice.

The categories for the awards this year are:-

Pastoral School of the Year
A school that can demonstrate a commitment to pastoral care and support for learners that makes a real difference in the progress and personal development of young people in the school.

Pastoral Team of the Year
A team that works in pastoral care and can demonstrate a determination to support young people to achieve their full potential and a positive impact on the young people they work with.

Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year
A member of staff who works in pastoral care and who always makes the extra effort to support young people to enable them to become effective learners and achieve success.

Pastoral Leader of the Year
Has a passion for pastoral care that is shared with colleagues to inspire and motivate them to make a real difference in the lives of the young people they work with.

Pastoral Development of the Year
A pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people.

Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care
A person, group or organisation that has made a real difference in pastoral care, for the benefit of young people.

International Contribution to Pastoral Care
An international school, organisation outside of the UK or an individual working in research or in an international school outside of the UK, that has promoted or delivered high quality pastoral care.
Raising Awareness about Pastoral Care
An individual, group or organisation who through their actions have raised awareness about pastoral care or pastoral issues and encouraged positive improvements for the benefit of young people.

The maximum number of words to support a nomination is being increased from 100 words to 300 words this year so there will be every opportunity to describe the good practice and the impact it is making.

Nominations can be made for excellent contributions to research, for raising awareness and for good practice in pastoral care in education from the 2021 -2022 academic year. The sponsors and panel of judges will be announced shortly.

The closing date for nominations is 30th May 2022 and the judges will then have the difficult task of deciding who the finalists and winners will be in each category.

A grand live presentation event is planned for the anniversary year in the autumn to announce the winners.

All finalists will receive a certificate form NAPCE to recognise their achievements and winners will receive a plaque and a £100.00 cash prize.

Make sure your good practice is recognised by making a nomination today.
To make a nomination for the 2022 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education organised by NAPCE go to

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