Skip to Content

NAPCE News – August 2020

NAPCE News – August 2020

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

Pastoral care in schools across the UK and further afield is proven to be critically linked to the academic and personal-social development of young people. NAPCE continues to support education providers in the process of pastoral care implementation and development. It is here that we share important news of our latest activities, events and best practice guidance. 

FEATURE ARTICLE: “Lockdown Challenges” –  NAPCE Secretary Jill Robson Takes a 360 Look at the Importance of Pastoral Support in the Covid-19 Era

Lockdown ChallengesEach week during lockdown my husband and I have spent a pleasant couple of hours drinking a glass of wine and chatting to John and Elaine, our friends in Brazil.

As someone who started their teaching career creating visual aids with an epidiascope, (a forerunner of the overhead projector) I still continue to be amazed that we can Zoom in from our home in North East England into our friends’ home in Rio de Janeiro.

Our meetings often have to be curtailed when Elaine, a maths teacher, goes off to teach on Skype. The internet has opened up incredible opportunities for innovative teaching and access to information that would take hours of researching without it.

Undoubtedly the internet has made the continued teaching of students accessible throughout lockdown and it is ironic that after the concern about the amount of online time some children were spending, they are now being encouraged to do so to access their education.

The lack of internet connection and computers has disadvantaged many “less well off” children. There is an obvious concern that numbers of children have fallen behind with their studies during the pandemic and will need increased support to catch up with their education.

The June and July NAPCE newsletters included interesting articles by my NAPCE colleague Dr Noel Purdy on this issue entitled “Bridging the Lockdown learning gap”. I encourage you to read them.

When school aged pupils are interviewed by the media about the enforced break from normal schooling the continual response is not “I have missed maths, english and science etc.” but “I have missed my friends”.  This emphasises the role and importance of school in socialising our youngsters, allowing them to interact with others and develop social skills.

A few years ago, when returning from a NAPCE meeting in London on the train, I sat opposite a couple of young people who turned out to be ex-students. Once we had established this fact, the remainder of the journey was occupied by their reminiscences of their schooldays.

I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed that the highlights of their schooldays did not include the particularly good lesson that I taught in Year 9 on tectonic plate movements but was all about school plays and productions, sports matches, school trips and residentials.

These pastoral activities are seen by many as peripheral activities but for students they often form the most memorable and valuable learning experiences and opportunities for developing relationships with their peers, building social skills and enhancing self-esteem.

In his July article about the 7 ways to bridge the lockdown learning gap, Noel Purdy cites the first way as pastoral support for pupils and states ”Schools already have highly skilled pastoral teams but they should be prepared to encounter many more emotional health and well-being needs in the months to follow and should adopt a child-centred approach of whole school understanding and trauma sensitive ”flexible consistency” to ensure that all children feel “physically, socially, emotionally and academically safe“.

Over the last 38 years NAPCE has continually worked to promote, support and develop pastoral care, pastoral programmes and personal, social and emotional education in schools.

For many years it was perceived as an unnecessary add on, to many teachers burgeoning workload, due to its non-statutory status, however from September 2020 it becomes a compulsory part of state education and will be inspected by Ofsted.

The opening paragraph of the introduction to requirement (updated on July 9th 2020) is as follows:

“To embrace the challenges of creating a happy and successful adult life, pupils need knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their well-being health and relationships and to build their self-efficacy. Pupils can also put this knowledge into practice as they develop the capacity to make sound decisions when facing risks, challenges and complex contexts. Everyone faces difficult situations in their lives. These subjects can support young people to develop resilience, to know when to ask for help and to know where to access support.”

The foreword by the Secretary of State includes the statement that: “Teaching about mental well-being is central to these subjects, especially as a priority for parents, is their children’s happiness. We know that children and young people are increasingly experiencing challenges, and that young people are at particular risk of feeling lonely. The new subject content will give them the knowledge and capability to take care of themselves and receive support if problems arise”.

It is impossible to argue against the noble sentiments expressed in these statements and it is good to see the recognition of the importance of mental health which although always a major concern, appears to have been an even greater issue during lockdown.

This is an issue which NAPCE has continually attempted to address particularly at its conference May 2019 on “Facing the Challenges Mental Health and Wellbeing” and in the special edition on mental health of the journal Pastoral Care in Education (Vol 36. Sept 2018).

I have read many school mission statements over the years that reflected the same intentions as the new legislation; however, the intended outcomes are not always as easy to achieve.

In his book “A Pastoral Programme”, published in 1986, Douglas Hamblin wrote: “Pastoral Care is concerned with skills and feelings. It is about respect for the individual and the transmission of values as well as provision of skills. Transmitting values does not mean a process of indoctrination. It means the building of responsible autonomy and rational self-regulating principles of moral judgement and not blind adherence to a code”.

As with all types of education it is the quality of the delivery and not the content that is often the issue.

Michael Marland one of the founders of NAPCE wrote in his introductory chapter to his book “Pastoral Care.”

“One serious disadvantage of the title of this book is that it could be seen as accepting that school life must divided into two sides, the pastoral and the academic. It is important to stress that at the heart of the matter there can be no pastoral academic split.”

Hopefully a more enlightened Ofsted process will not see an academic pastoral divide focussing on subject content but will judge the process and the outcomes of this new directive in terms of happy, well-adjusted and self-reliant young people.

There is obviously a lot of remedial work to be done in supporting many of our youngsters through the trauma of lockdown but I am sure that, as ever, our dedicated and hardworking teaching profession will step up to the challenge, when full time schooling resumes.

Jill Robson
NAPCE Secretary

INSPIRATION: “Lost in the Social Distance” a Poem by NAPCE’s Journal Editor Stan Tucker


Lost in the Social Distance

The school gate is closed 
Lost time, lost space, lost friends.
I balance my schoolwork 
Carefully on my lap,
The promised laptop has failed to arrive.
Harassed by siblings in a small space,
No progress possible in this confined place.
We fight over the use of mum’s phone,
No reference books, no support to call my own.
I walk past the school gate
That feels closed now to me.
My safe place, don’t you know
Where I need to be,
To look in a mirror again and actually see me.
There’s tomorrow and hope
I heard someone say.
They talk of social distancing,
As if to wish us away.
I’m hanging on now, I really am.
Get to me please and 
Rescue me, if you can.
Produced from published materials of young people talking about ‘lockdown’.

Stan Tucker
Editor, Pastoral Care In Education Journal

July 2020


ARTICLE: The Importance of “Creative Expression in Uncertain Times” by Leading Educationalist Dave Trotman

Creative Expression in Uncertain Times

As teachers begin preparations for welcoming children and young people into the ‘new normal’ of school education, there will be a necessary urgency to gauge the experiences and effects of lockdown in all its aspects – both good and bad.

Amongst the welter of practical changes that schools have already implemented, many will be considering adjustments to the curriculum and how this can effectively support the needs of children and their families during an, as yet, unchartered transition.

As we all begin to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of pandemic life, the histories of curricula past – many of which have been buried for far too long under the burden of prescription and performance – could now be usefully revitalised for these uncertain times.

One such area with strong pastoral agency is the Expressive Arts. As a historical matter, this of course is far from an original idea. Indeed, Michael Marland – widely regarded as the founding Father of pastoral education in the UK – was a passionate advocate for the arts as a pastoral force in the school curriculum.

At the same time Exeter University academic Malcolm Ross brought the expressive possibilities of the arts to wide educational attention. Art, Dance, Drama, English, Media and Music were regarded by Ross as a community of expressive subjects that share a powerful symbolic and aesthetic language – in which feeling and meaning are embodied in creative expressive form.

The expressive arts [with intentional emphasis on the expressive] have immediate contemporary educational relevance in difficult times.

As the gravity of the global pandemic and lockdown has unfolded, it has in turn exposed the acute vulnerabilities amongst many in our communities.

Wellbeing across a wide social spectrum has once again been a prime area of public concern, while the Black Lives Matter movement has made vivid matters of entrenched racism and the need for lasting social justice.

Amidst all the attendant anxieties and promise of new possibilities, the expressive arts can offer a potent vehicle for sensitively re-engaging the interior world of feeling, imagination and ideas as personal exploration and expression in safe creative spaces.

Dave Trotman in formerly a Professor of Education Policy and Reader in Creative Education 

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
Phil Jones
National Chair

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

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.