ARTICLE: NAPCE Chair Phil Jones Shares a Framework for “Essential Pastoral Care in Schools”
Essential Pastoral Care in Schools
There has been increased recognition in recent months that pastoral care is an important part of the young person’s experience in school.
Government guidance, research and the media have pointed out, how young people need pastoral support as part of their learning experience.
It is a pity that it has taken a global pandemic before it has been recognised that the pastoral work of a school has an important impact on supporting the socialisation, emotional well-being, and achievement of young people.
The investment in pastoral care has been given the value that it deserves because of how it supports the learning of young people and because of how it prepares them for their future lives.
A recent survey by charity Barnardo’s reported that 88% of school staff said that the pandemic is likely to have an effect on the mental health and well-being of their pupils (Barnardo’s 2020)
In the same survey 26% said that they did not feel confident that they had the tools, skills, or resources to support their pupils in this way. (Barnardo’s 2020)
It proposed that at least a term should be used as a readjustment period where schools can be flexible with the curriculum so they can work through the emotional effects of the pandemic.
This would enable teachers to help their pupils reintegrate into the school environment and re-socialise with their friends. It suggested that the structure of the school day should be changed, so there was more focus on pastoral care, play, creative outlets, and outdoor activities. (Barnardo’s 2020)
The Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan made the following comments.
“The government should take this once in a lifetime opportunity to rebalance the school system, recognising that children rely on school to keep them safe and well, just as much as they need to pass exams. We urge the government to work with schools, local authorities, the NHS and charities to place well-being at the heart of the curriculum and school culture, so that every child has the support they need to thrive”. (Barnardo’s 2020)
This recognition of the importance of pastoral support, means that schools will need to think carefully about how they use the available resources to create a positive learning environment.
Pastoral support that motivates and inspires all learners and meets their different needs, to enable them to achieve their full potential is what is needed.
This means that schools will need to have a planned proactive approach, to meeting the needs of their learners, that supports their academic progress and personal development.
Our experiences as a country in 2020 have highlighted the need for the education system to develop young people who are resilient and equipped with the skills and attitudes needed, to cope with changing circumstances and challenges in their daily lives.
The priority for leadership in schools is not to find the structure or system for delivering pastoral care that will be the “magic wand” to solve all problems, but to develop an ethos and culture that inspires the personal development and academic progress of all learners.
It must communicate a sense of purpose to all adults in the school about the importance of their actions, to support young people with the challenges they face.
Schools will need to ensure that all adults in the school have the training and support they need to ensure that they are confident about how they can make a telling contribution to meeting the different needs of young people and support them in being effective learners and in their preparation for their future lives.
There is an opportunity to learn the lessons from lockdown, to make young people’s experience of education better in the future.
During the pandemic it has been recognised that schools have an important role on behalf of society, in supporting the personal development of young people.
Sometimes it is only when something is no longer available such as when schools were closed to most learners, that you appreciate the contribution they make to wider society.
The pandemic has taught us that schools have a vital role in the socialisation process, that develops appropriate skills and attitudes in young people to enable them to make positive contributions to society.
It is important that schools invest time and resources in planning how the school, through the curriculum and the organisation of the school, supports the socialisation process.
The pandemic has highlighted that developing skills in human interaction is as important as passing examinations, to prepare a young person for the challenges they will face in their future lives.
Schools need to value, the importance of adults being positive role models for young people. Schools motivate and inspire young people to come out of their comfort zone as learners because they know the support, they might need is available.
Pastoral support becomes important, not just as a system for solving problems but as the ‘safety blanket’, that supports the learning and personal development of the young people.
If schools are going to learn the lessons of the pandemic and the experience can be used to support a drive for school improvement then it is important that schools ask the question , what are the essential ingredients of effective pastoral support.
The following, as they say on television shows, are in no particular order, but together they provide pastoral support that will encourage a positive learning environment and a culture where all learners are motivated and inspired to achieve their full potential.
Academic Mentoring – to engage learners in a discussion that makes sense of their learning experience and motivates them to overcome challenges.
Time Management and Organisational skills – to enable young people to become effective learners and prepare them for their future roles in the world of work.
Social and Emotional Skills – teaching skills and attitudes that enable young people to cope with challenges in their learning and future lives.
Active Citizenship – providing opportunities for young people to have roles that develop positive attitudes and give them experiences that they can use in the future to cope with challenges and demands made on them.
Student Voice – encouraging young people to share views and opinions so they can contribute to improvements and understand the difficulties that must be faced, to bring about changes for the benefit of other people.
Effective Tutoring – to provide all young people with one person, who has responsibility for supporting them daily and providing motivation and encouragement to achieve their full potential.
Skills for Life – A planned and proactive approach to develop the skills and attitudes needed to be effective learners and successful in life, such as understanding financial issues.
Goal Setting – supporting young people with setting targets for themselves to provide a purpose for their work and monitor their progress, to enable them to identify priorities for improvement.
Healthy Living – providing guidance and support to enable young people to take responsibility for their health and well-being.
Individual Performance Coaching – individual coaching support, to empower young people to take positive action to make progress at school and to improve their future life chances.
Study Skills – A planned and proactive approach, to ensuring that young people have the skills and attitudes to be effective learners at school and in their future lives.
Presentation and Communication Skills – a proactive approach to teaching presentation communication to enable young people to be confident about sharing their views and ideas.
Empathy – To enable young people to form effective social and working relationships with other people by being able to explore ideas and situations for their perspective.
Creativity – A proactive and planned approach to developing creative skills to enable young people to be effective members of teams and contribute their talents and skills.
Problem Solving – to enable young people to experience situations where they can use their ideas and build the resilience needed to achieve success in their education and future working lives.
Roles of Responsibility – to provide opportunities for learners to take on roles of responsibility to learn about decision making and working effectively with other people.
Recognising and Rewarding Achievement – to motivate and inspire learners and reinforce positive expectations.
Developing a Positive Ethos and Learning Culture – to provide a safe and positive learning environment where young people are encouraged to achieve their full potential.
These are not meant to be the only areas to be considered, in planning effective pastoral support for learners in the future.
They should be used as a stimulus by leaders and staff to decide what are the priorities for their pastoral support and to plan what actions to take to meet the different needs of learners.
I hope that they will provide some inspiration to colleagues who want to provide effective pastoral support for young people, during the current challenging situation and in the future.
NAPCE will continue, as it has done for nearly 40 years to share good practice and ideas to encourage effective pastoral support that makes a real difference in young people’s education and future lives.
Please share any thoughts or ideas on the NAPCE twitter link @NAPCE1
The National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE)
Barnardo’s, (2020). Time for a clean slate: Children’s mental health at the heart of education.
Jones, P. (2020) Social and emotional learning and its impact on pastoral support”. Pastoral Care in Education. 38(1) 83-87