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NAPCE News – May 2020

NAPCE News – May 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: NAPCE Officer Julianne Brown Examines the Impact of Social Distancing & Lockdown

Social Distancing and Strengthening Our Inner ‘HUG’ Circle

In Autumn of 2019, I typed this short observation from the train on my way to work:

“It’s fascinating to see the birds as they fly in unison across the water on their path to warmer climates, each bird rises up to meet the shapeshifting mass as it continues in its onward momentum”.

I have seen the same mesmerizing phenomenon where hundreds of birds seem to be connected and move in unison. There’s a name for this, it’s called a murmuration. There are some beautiful examples captured on the internet, often referred to as a ‘Bird Ballet’ (see for example:

This phenomenon reminds me of our extraordinary human connection. In the metro for instance when there is something slightly out of the ordinary, a sound, a movement, even a feeling, there is a simultaneous shift in movement. It’s not an overt spectacle as in the murmuration of the birds but a near invisible sign of our strong human connectedness, nonetheless.

Moving to May 2020 and the world has changed. I haven’t been on the train for over 5 weeks now, working in the isolation of my home. I have taken my walk once a day but keep away from other people and seem to have developed a knee-jerk reaction of moving against rather than with any humans who come within 2 metres of me! It’s hardly surprising as we are bombarded by health and safety messages to keep our distance.

It makes sense in times of a global epidemic to keep ourselves, our loved ones and everyone safer through limiting contact but it touches our very ‘humanness’. Social distancing works both on us and in us. We despise it and make fun of it whilst at the same time become willing accomplices in an effort to be safe.

Being ‘locked down’ and ‘distanced’ over time is proving to be a challenge. The effects of isolation and the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to our lives, cannot be underestimated. Alarm bells have been sounded on the affects this situation may have on our mental health. The loss of many lives is a distressing factor of this formally unknown virus. For some, the isolation is proving intolerable, for others living and being with others in the same household, 24 hours a day, has created tension. Many of us have had to adapt to the merging of home and work and master the skills of multitasking.

For our children, at home and school, the mixed messages will be confusing at the least; “stay away from strangers” has become “stay away from everyone”. We no longer talk of ‘limiting’ the use of technology, but fully embrace it as a way to connect with others, while away the hours, and endorse its use through online learning.

Nonetheless, being at home has given us a period for personal reflection. It has raised questions about the purpose of education, how we live our lives, the importance of our relationships with others, the effects of our behaviour on the environment, and the economic and political structures with which we have created our social world. These are ‘big ideas’ and can overwhelm us.

Many children are already returning to school. Some people are going back to work. But this will not be the case for everyone, and it is hard to think that we will not be affected by such dramatic and in some instances, traumatic, experiences.

For many, social distancing will have become internalised as an everyday practice; for the elderly, the vulnerable and others, this new behavioural code will need to be respected by us all long into the future.

We are social beings and contact is primordial. Perhaps this is why we are turning to our creativity and imagination to help us cope. The public displays of solidarity with songs and clapping that we have witnessed all over the world are signs that humans actively seek out the comfort of others and goes some way to explain why we need to find positive ways to release these ‘pent-up’ emotions.

A particularly powerful encounter for me was shared by a friend. It featured a policeman in Finland, (who also happens to be an opera singer, even though I am not an opera fan), Petrus Schroderus, who wanted to sing something from himself for all the people who were alone at this time. “I love you, life!”: (see I was working on my computer, alone in the house. I clicked the link, and the room was instantly filled with the powerful tones of Mr. Schroderus, it touched deep into my soul and released a fountain of tears even though I couldn’t understand the words! That humans can create such sound is extraordinary to me.

Technology fills the gap in some incredible ways through ‘virtual meets’ and innovations such as a well-known film provider’s ‘party’ where films can be shared and watched together from different places and the many online boardgames that look just like the ‘real’ thing. The problem is that these experiences are sensory limited, they focus on what we can see and hear. They initiate an instantaneous emotion but it’s short lived. A ‘virtual hug’ tries to get the ‘feeling’ through vibration when a mobile is placed near to the heart.

Of course, a real hug, is a physical all-senses experience of touch, smell, sight, sound that leaves its imprint. The other problem is that many of us, including our children, are beginning to experience the effects of excessive screen time which has been shown to be negative for our wellbeing and may in itself lead to anxiety and exhaustion.

Current suggestions for improving our mental health are often based on an individualist behaviour change approach; leading a healthier lifestyle, incorporating healthy eating, daily activity, providing structure to our day and practicing purposeful mindfulness (UK Gov 2020a, 2020b). Whilst this advice is undoubtedly important, it is possible to think of wellbeing in alternative ways, using a relational approach (White 2010, 2015). If we accept that wellbeing is socially and culturally constructed, we are then able to view wellbeing as emerging from our relationships with others. In this way, it is possible to see that creating and making for others would be both good for our own wellbeing and for others.

I suggest, therefore, we need to turn our attention away from the wider perspective, in which we have little control, towards our inner circle of relationships, that I will refer to as our ‘hug’ circle.

Our hug circle includes all the people who are closest to us, who we miss the most, or those who are with us every day, and who we may take for granted. These are the people who, in our old normality, would have come close and been encircled in our embrace. It is these relationships we need to nurture and take care of during these difficult times. But what can we do when we are physically separated? How can we try to limit the effects of isolation and loneliness and the effects of separation for our children and ourselves?

One way may be through artistic expression. It has the potential to produce positive, lasting, memories for both the giver and receiver. We need to be more imaginative and create experiences that are tangible. Creative activities that take us away from the screen and connect us in fundamental ways to our families and close friends. The ‘cuddle curtain’, which was just reported on the news, is one such example, taking us a step nearer to the real thing and giving a very satisfying feeling of joy!

When considering what we might do to maintain and strengthen our relationships in our hug circle, it is helpful to think ‘pre-internet’, for those of us who are able! Personal letter writing, ‘sealed with a kiss’ ,  on scented paper, will make this simple act more meaningful and arouse our sense of sight, smell and touch.

In the past, postcards were ornately decorated with pressed flowers, embroidery or ribbons.

This postcard, sent to my grandmother, is an example of how beautiful and special these could be. Another fun activity that never fails to connect people are hand and foot prints.

The new words of ‘lockdown’ and ‘social distancing’ are an assault on our senses and reach deep down into our core. Our human togetherness is being challenged and it will be a while before we can experience anything akin to the murmuration of the birds in flight. Meanwhile, if we can nurture our close relationships and bring as many senses to our hug circle as possible through making and creating, to fill the void, to help us and others ‘feel good by doing good’ (White 2010) we will build the solid foundations needed to move forward into the following months.

White, S.C., 2010. Analysing wellbeing: a framework for development practice.
Development in Practice, 20(2), pp.158-172.

White, S., 2015. Relational wellbeing: A theoretical and operational approach. Bath Papers in international development and wellbeing. University of Bath. 43.
UK Gov., March 2020a. Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) (Accessed 17th May):

UK Gov., April 2020b. Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (Accessed 17th May 2020):

AWARDS: Finalists Announced for first National Awards For Pastoral Care In Education

The finalists of the first National Awards For Pastoral Care In Education have been announced.

A total of five deserving nominees have been unveiled in each category following decisions by an independent judging panel of educational experts and a tranche of impressive entries for the inaugural event.

The Awards was launched by NAPCE in 2019 and is the first UK-wide scheme to recognise outstanding achievements across pastoral care in education settings.

A host of influential organisations have lined up to support the first National Awards For Pastoral Care In Education by sponsoring categories including TESAssociation of School and College Leaders (ASCL), BlueSky EducationThe Thrive Approach and Taylor and Francis.

This is the first time ever an event has been organised to recognise the fantastic achievements across schools in the UK on pastoral care.

It has been created to provide much deserved recognition for the people and schools who are doing great work and to shine a light on good practice in pastoral care.

The Awards is an excellent opportunity to share good practice in pastoral care and to raise awareness of where pastoral support is making a real difference in the educational experience of young people.

It also encourages new initiatives and ideas in pastoral care and recognises the contributions being made to developing policy and practice in pastoral support.

Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE and a member of the independent judging panel said: “We received so many brilliant entries for the first National Awards For Pastoral Care In Education and I want to thank everyone who took part.

“The Awards has become established very quickly and we hope to now be able to offer it for many years to come.

“Thank you again to all of our fantastic sponsors and, of course, huge congratulations to the finalists in each category.

“Standards of entry were extremely high which underlines the achievement you have made in making the finals.

“I wish you all luck for the big event later in the year, whether that’s able to take place in person or online.”

The Finalists

Pastoral Development of the Year – Sponsored by NAPCE

(A pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people)

ACS International School, Boarding – Cobham, Surrey

Anneliese Walker, Nidderdale High School – Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Dan Midgley, Malet Lambert School – Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Malet Lambert , Peer Mentoring Scheme – Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Mr Shaun Easton, All Saints Catholic School and Technology College, Dagenham, Essex

Pastoral Leader Of The Year – Sponsored by Taylor and Francis 

(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)

Rebecca Finn, Cardinal Newman Catholic High School – Warrington, Cheshire

Dave Richardson, Kingdown School – Warminster, Wiltshire

Lena Dhrona, North London Grammar School – Hendon, London

Sarah Freeman, The Park Community School – Barnstaple, Devon

Laura Howieson, St Michael’s Middle School –Colehill, Dorset

Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year – Sponsored by TES

(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)

Ms Ceri Ellis, Rhyl High School –North Wales

Sunita Mall, Morecambe Road School – Lancashire

Mr Dominic Riste, All Saints Catholic School and Technology College – Dagenham, Essex

Melanie Ennis, Archway Learning Trust- Nottingham

Deborah Mason, Silver Spring Primary Academy – Stalybridge, Greater Manchester

Pastoral School of The Year – Sponsored by BlueSky Education

(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)

The Grove School – Tottenham, London

Shaftesbury High School – Harrow, Middlesex

The Stanway School – Colchester Essex

All Saints Catholic School and Technology College- Dagenham Essex

Brighton Hill Community School – Hampshire

Pastoral Team of the Year – Sponsored by The Thrive Approach

(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)

Moor End Academy – Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Pastoral Support Team – Cardinal Newman Catholic High School – Warrington, Cheshire

Guidance Team –  Churchill Community College – Wallsend, Tyne and Wear

Pastoral Managers- Julie Ayres, Hannah Jolly, Gieves La Fosse and Lauren Koster, – The Ramsey Academy, Halstead, Essex

Silver Springs Primary Academy – Stalybridge, Cheshire

Raising Awareness About Pastoral Care – Sponsored by Association of School and College Leaders

(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)

Sean Henn – The Berne Institute – Kegworth, Derby

Pat Sowa – Starfish – Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Dr Bronagh McKee – Stranmillis University College, Belfast, Northern Ireland

King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls – Handsworth, Birmingham

Glenlola Collegiate School Pastoral Care Team – Glenlola Collegiate School, Bangor , Northern Ireland

Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care – Sponsored by NAPCE

(A person, group or organisation that has made a real difference for the benefit of young people in the area of pastoral care)

Glenlola Collegiate School – Bangor, Northern Ireland

Jackie O’Hanlon, Shaftesbury High School –Harrow, Middlesex

Eileen Pavey, Litcham School – Kings Lynn, Norfolk

Tor Bank School, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Ann Armstrong, All Saints Catholic School and Technology College – Dagenham, Essex

The Awards ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in July but has been postponed because of the Covid-19 crisis.

NAPCE has made tentative plans to host an event in September 2020, but is also looking at back up plans to announce the winners online if a physical event is not feasible within the chosen timeframe.

There will be a prize of £100 for the school or institution for the winners of each category and individuals will also be recognised for their achievements.


ARTICLE: Learning in a “New Normal” – topical thoughts from NAPCE Chair Phil Jones

Learning in a New Normal – Thoughts from The Chair

Politicians must make decisions about when pupils should return to school. There will be many different pressures on the politicians making the decisions and many different views and opinions about the correct time to take actions.

School leaders, teachers and parents do not have all the scientific and medical information that politicians have access too. It needs to be recognised that schools perform a valuable role for the economy in providing childcare to enable adults to focus on work.

This is not the only role for schools in our society and they have an even more important role in the socialisation and personal development of young people as well as their academic achievement.

School leaders have to implement the decisions that are made by the politicians and it is history with the advantage of hindsight that will make the judgement of the politicians about whether it was the right time and whether actions were taken for the right reasons.

In implementing the decisions made, school leaders will need to think carefully about the priorities for supporting learners and how all members of the school community can feel confident about being safe. Safeguarding has been a priority in schools because it is recognised that there is a strong link between feeling safe and learning.

Safeguarding needs to be a priority when learners return to school because if learning takes place in an environment that doesn’t feel safe for teachers and learners it could have a negative impact on attitudes to school for many learners, for years to come.

This is not simply a matter of rulers and tape, it is about being clear about the needs of young people and adults to feel safe in a school. Time is needed not just for rearranging learning spaces but for planning how to communicate different expectations to young people and their parents and this may take more time than the decision makers are currently proposing.

The most important challenges will be how to enable young people to make sense of the changes to their learning experience and how to manage the role schools have in supporting socialisation and personal development.

It is the interactive experiences that young people will have missed the most while they have not been in school and how they mix with friends and other learners will be challenging for schools to manage.

This needs to be planned with clarity so it can be calmly explained from the first day pupils arrive in school. If this does not happen the confidence of parents, young people and staff will be lost and it will be difficult to gain this trust again.

This is not a time for ‘world war one leadership’ where everybody is encouraged to ‘go over the top’ because with the right spirit everything will be alright! It is a time for calm, clear leadership, where the feelings of all members of the school community are carefully considered and actions taken that build confidence and trust.

In the primary school it may be possible to create small groups of pupils that can be taught together and although they are socially distanced, they can share experiences and support each other in their personal development and learning. In this context the priority is supporting pupils to learn in a new normal classroom environment and enabling them to share their feelings and thoughts to ensure that school is perceived as being safe and stable.

In secondary schools any attempt to deliver a timetable will be mission impossible, without considerable time being allocated to planning and exploring alternative arrangements. The movement that is required for a normal timetable around a school building and the different groups that learners would be part of would be difficult for school leaders to organise safely with adequate social distancing.

There is an argument that it would be better to use energy and time now on providing the best possible learning experience, through distance learning and to allow more time for planning, how to deliver a timetable in a secondary school for September.

Being realistic about a September expansion of on-site provision for secondary schools would enable teachers to continue to focus on the innovative approaches to distance learning that have been provided to support learners through this crisis.

It will enable clear plans to be made about how to meet safely, the socialisation, personal development and academic needs of all learners that would build the trust and confidence of parents and all members of the school community.

An investment in tutoring to support learners through this process would provide motivation and structure and be important to enable young people to make sense of their learning experience. The needs of learners taking public examinations will need to be a priority for all secondary schools.

A decision to not expand on-site provision in secondary schools until September would create an opportunity to organise small group tutorials for examination students this term. The use of this time could be carefully planned so that learners gain the maximum benefit from this face to face time and to conform to the current expectations for social distancing.

Using the skills of teachers in this way, to support on-line learning with tutoring, would provide the guidance and focus that these learners need. It would not be possible to provide learners with contact with a subject specialist, but it would enable schools to prioritise the care and support of all individual learners.

As learners return to a new normal learning environment the role of pastoral support will be vital to enable young people to have the confidence and trust to make good progress in their academic and personal development and to look after their well-being.

These are my own views about the current situation.

Please send your thoughts and ideas to NAPCE at the e mail address or by following NAPCE@NAPCE1 on Twitter

Phil Jones, National Chair, NAPCE
May 2020

JOURNAL: Stan Tucker, the Editor of NAPCE’s globally renowned publication shares an excerpt from a recent edition – “Vulnerable Children & Young People”


Vulnerable Children and Young People

In the daily bombardment of information about the progress of Covid-19 in terms of both its health and economic impact, it is easy to forget the specific and real difficulties that some children and their families may be facing. I tried recently to raise the subject of vulnerability, as it impacts on children and young people,  in the form of a question for Any Question?
on BBC Radio 4.

Unfortunately my question wasn’t included; no doubt because other questions were deemed more important. Looking across all the media activity of the past month or so, both national and local, it is difficult to locate any significant coverage. Yet, it is worth pausing for a moment to reflect on the potential impact of Covid-19 on the lives of particular children and young people who find themselves in difficult and highly challenging individual, social and economic circumstances.

For my part, my thoughts have continually returned to those children and young people who find themselves living with their homeless parents in Bed and Breakfast accommodation. The most recent figure I could locate (House of Commons Library, 2020) states that 7,110 households in England had been accommodated in Bed and Breakfast accommodation, with 690 of those households staying longer than 6 weeks, for the year ending June 2019.

These are families with children; usually looked after by their mothers. We can hope that the individual children and young people concerned receive a good level of pastoral support when they are attending school, but how well they are supported now can only be a matter for speculation.

Many live in cramped, unhygienic situations, where they may have to share a bathroom or toilet with others. How difficult is it likely to be able to claim a space to study in a cramped bedroom? How possible is it to maintain internet communication with a pastoral support worker at school where the availability and quality of computers may significantly differ? Then there is the matter of the physical and mental stress experienced that is generated from living in a confined space.

My fear is that this group of children and young people, and I can only touch on the needs of one group here, are more likely to feel increasingly  abandoned and isolated – effectively cut off from those people in school, and other areas of their life, that are of vital importance to them.

Vulnerable children and young people often live on the margins of our society. A failure to even acknowledge their difficulties can only exacerbate what is a desperate situation.

Stan Tucker
Editor, Pastoral Care in Education

FREE: A resource to explain staying at home to pre-school children by Liron Marlow-Miron

Our thanks to Liron Marlow-Miron for sharing and allowing NAPCE to share this resource with our audience.

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