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NAPCE News – May 2023

NAPCE News – May 2023

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

LEAD ARTICLE: Are we doing enough to support persistently absent young people? NAPCE’s Dominic Riste explores the issue

Mind The Gap: Are We Doing Enough to Maintain the Journey of Personal Development When it Comes to Young People Who Are Persistently Absent? by Dominic Riste

The need for a logically sequenced, embedded, authentic and adaptable pastoral care in schools is indisputable: done well it can develop motivation, integrity, resilience in young people, encouraging them to understand the value of respect and tolerance, empowering them with knowledge about mental and physical health, healthy relationships and a clear sense of self and purpose.

Teachers across the world strive to communicate not only their passion and knowledge of a subject, but also contribute to the personal development of their students.

Schools across the world aim to not only empower their pupils through achievements, but also to nurture socially responsible and active citizens.

Yet can any of these ambitions be adequately fulfilled for those students who are not present in the building or the classroom to experience them?

While the return to full GCSE specifications, the re-establishment of routines and the end of post pandemic interventions suggest that the educational landscape has recovered from the impact of the Covid 19, the effect of the lockdowns on student attendance continues to be felt.

In England 25 per cent of students were persistently absent during the autumn term 2022, an increase from the 10 per cent pre-pandemic figure (provided by the FFT Datalab).

These figures also reveal that almost 5 per cent of young people in years 10 and 11 were classed as severe absentees in the same period, roughly 170 thousand individuals.

It is widely acknowledged and communicated that students who attend school less frequently perform worse academically, however the issues caused by such significant periods of time absent from education are multifaceted and interlinked.

From a reduction in opportunities to learn through social interactions, build resilience, receive advice and guidance, have access to external providers of
support, to the increase of risk factors when not at school.

Engaging young people who are persistently absent from school is a similarly multifaceted endeavour. It is also a considerable challenge.

In my own early career, I remember wrestling with the issue myself. As an NQT and inexperienced Year Leader, with a clear responsibility for attendance in my performance management targets and job specification, I found the line between what I was responsible for and not responsible for (issues inside the school and external to the school) a difficult one to get a definitive picture of.

Fortunately, I worked with an incredible member of staff from the local authority, a knowledgeable, relentless and compassionate ex-teacher, however I still found myself in situations – I distinctly recall being surrounded by a student’s family as I was encouraged to (and did) use a ladder positioned in front of a small window in the hallway of the property to check on the welfare, communicate with and eventually convince a young person into school being one – where I questioned: What would my approach be if I didn’t have pre-existing relationships with students and families to rely on?

What support could I reasonably offer if encouraging, motivating and listening didn’t work? Is my responsibility here or in school where the majority of my year group were?

Retrospectively, it highlights for one thing a lack of training in skills typically beyond a teacher’s remit.

It is clear that the educational provision and pastoral care accessed by a significant number of young people is limited by non-attendance to schools.

However, what isn’t always as clear is whose responsibility is it to re-engage them.

A collaborative approach between local authority, primary and secondary schools is needed to provide a holistic response to the issue.

When meaningful this has the potential to support key transitions, share good practice, build relationships with families and overcome some of the barriers that may lie in wait during a young person’s unique educational journey.

Furthermore, with an expansion of technology in education and especially the facilitation of online learning, there are more ways than ever to reach students who are not physically present in school.

During lockdown students received learning in line with the national curriculum, however in cases of persistent absences, those who are not in the classroom often miss vast amounts of curriculum content.

If the potential of virtual education is embraced and managed, the barrier caused by students feeling behind their peers could be supported and alleviated.

Where young people are successfully reintegrated with their education it is often the result of gradual, supportive, and often creative pastoral care, yet this takes time, capacity, and the ability to extend the pastoral care inside school to outside of school – a challenge that is essential if the personal development of all young people is to be nurtured by our education system.

Dominic Riste
NEC Member

EVENT: Free Tickets Available Now for New NAPCE Pastoral Care Event in Northern Ireland in June

Tickets are available now for NAPCE’s first ever in-person pastoral care event in Northern Ireland – BOOK NOW!

Early booking is recommended for this FREE event which takes place at Stranmillis University College, Belfast, on 21st June, 2023.

Koulla Yiasouma, the former Children’s Commissioner for Northern Ireland, will be among the guests.

You can book your FREE tickets here:

About The Event

This face-to-face symposium is a unique collaboration between the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE) and Stranmillis University College, Belfast.

It seeks to bring together educational practitioners from a range of school settings in Northern Ireland to identify the current pastoral challenges facing schools as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and enter a period of significant budget cuts.

The symposium features contributions from Koulla Yiasouma, the former Children’s Commissioner for NI, and three local schools, each of which has won awards for their outstanding pastoral care.

There will be presentations and time for group discussion, as well as informal networking and sharing of experiences and ideas.


REPORT: FREE NAPCE Online Pastoral Care Conference Hailed a Huge Success

NAPCE SPRING ONLINE CONFERENCE 2023 – Pastoral Care that Makes a Difference

The NAPCE Online Conference 2023 ‘Pastoral Care that Makes a Difference’ has been hailed a huge success.

This was the third year that NAPCE had organised a spring online conference.

The 2023 conference took place on Saturday 22nd April and explored current issues and challenges for people working in pastoral roles in schools and educational organisations.

It attracted delegates who shared an interest in pastoral care in education from around the world.

It was a combination of presentations by expert speakers in different pastoral topics and interviews and discussions with guests with expertise in pastoral issues.

The conference was chaired by Phil Jones, National Chair for the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE).

The first presentation was about Pastoral Care that Supports SEND, from Dr Matt Silver, who is the National Vice Chair, for NAPCE.

The presentation provided delegates with some important information and ideas about current issues in SEND.

Matt Silver is the founder of The Glass House Leadership Lab which is described on its website as ‘an accessible and non-judgemental space for leaders to explore and be guided in their ongoing journey’.

Some of the important points that Dr Silver made in the presentation are that there is a need for education to change from analogue to digital and that we need to consider what our ‘rigid’ education system is preparing young people for.

This was followed by a presentation on supporting parents with attendance, from Ellie Costello, Director of Square Peg.

“Square Peg was set up as a social enterprise in April 2019, to effect change for children who struggle to attend school and their families.

Ellie Costello joined Square Peg as Director in 2020, having experienced life as the parent of children with underlying needs which impacted their ability to access and ‘fit’ the education system.

She now runs the organisation, as well as working as an Expert by Experience with local authority and health teams in her home county of Warwickshire.

The presentation provided an important insight into different perceptions about how to improve attendance and how schools can work with parents and young people in their care to support them in achieving their full potential from their education.

Attendance is a current focus in education with concerns about high absence since Covid 19 and an increasing number of parents choosing to home educate their children.

The first interview guest was Professor Noel Purdy from Stranmillis University College in Belfast.

He responded to questions from Phil Jones and shared his experience of working in areas of pastoral care in education and how pastoral care has developed in Northern Ireland.

The next presentation came from Charlie Walker who is the student representative on the National Executive for NAPCE.

Charlie is a neuroscience student at the University of Exeter, and he is an adviser on young people in the House of Commons.

He gave a very interesting insight into what do young people want from pastoral care and support for their education and preparation for their future lives.

The next interview guest was Jill Robson who is the National Secretary for NAPCE and currently also acting as Treasurer.

Responding to interview questions from Phil Jones led to an interesting discussion about how PSHE can support personal development in schools.

Jill was able to share her experience of working in secondary schools and to provide some ideas and advice for delegates.

The final presentation was from Jimi Slattery on social and emotional learning and how this supports personal development.

Jimi is an experienced education professional who leads the Compassion Matters Project for the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion.

He explained that social and emotional learning is an integral part of education and human development.

Jimi shared with delegates, how the process of social and emotional learning enables people to acquire and apply knowledge skills and attitudes, to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish, and maintain supportive relationships and make responsible and caring  decisions.

Phil Jones brought the conference to a close and identified some themes that had emerged from the presentations and discussions.

 There is a need for pastoral care in schools in the 21st century.
 Children and young people have different needs and require different support to achieve their full potential.
 Pastoral care, personal development and social and emotional learning provides the foundation for academic achievement.
 There is a need for educationalists to be brave and highlight the importance of pastoral care as part of a learner’s educational experience.

Some of the comments in the chat for the conference included.

“So important to think about the needs of children and not just attendance targets”,
“Really engaging, relevant and useful”.
“It made me think about the lack of links between our PSHRE team and the pastoral team”
”Great information and help in today’s post pandemic world”
“Thank you everyone you are doing such important work and I am always inspired by school pastoral educators and their dedication to children and the development of young people. You are doing the most important work in schools”.
“Thank you. Lots of interesting presentations”.

There were delegates from the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Singapore, Nigeria, Netherlands, Moldova, Canada, and Australia.

The NAPCE page on Eventbrite had 279 visits for information about the conference and 68 delegates registered to attend.

The online conference was followed in the afternoon by the 2023 AGM for the Association.

GOOD PRACTICE: Sharing Good Practice from the 2022 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education

Sharing Good Practice from the 2022 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education

The judges were very impressed with the excellent practice in pastoral care and brilliant support that is being provided for learners that was highlighted in the nominations for the 2022 Awards.

In this edition of NAPCE News we are sharing some more of the good practice that was highlighted, this time, in the Pastoral Development of the Year Award at the 2022 event.

The criteria for this category is “A pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people.”

The 2022 Award Winner was:-

Emma McCarron, St Patricks College, Dungannon

The 2022 Finalists were:-

Meridian High School Summit Team

St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena

Russell Friese, Bassett House School

Michael Fitzsimons, Trinity Sixth Form Academy

Pastoral Development of the Year Award 2023

Emma McCarron, St Patricks College, Dungannon

Emma introduced our Mental Health & Well Being P16 leadership Team initiative in 2019. This team comprises of Year 13 & 14 students who work together with staff, parents and external agencies and local community partners to raise awareness, challenge stigma and campaign for change for all our students.    Emma and her team present at whole school and year group assemblies, they facilitate intervention programmes such as the buddy team, they organise workshops from youth clubs and social trust services, they liaise with staff for mapping Mental Health across our subjects and ensuring it is included in schemes of work and resources, they build noticeboards signposting relevant supports and services for both students and staff alike. They organise and encourage visits by external groups to promote Mental Health & Well Being and challenge stigma of the same as well as well as sourcing Mental Health First Aid training for staff.    The team lead a hugely successful annual Mental Health & Well Being week which is sponsored by community groups. This year the theme was ‘Express yourself’. The purpose of the week is to run activities and workshops which encourage students (and staff) to take part in activities that help both their mental and physical health and wellbeing. We managed to run a vast number of activities to introduce students to things they may never have taken part in before, including Yoga, Cheerleading, Art therapy, Mindfulness, Mediation, Dodgeball, Baking, Dance, Board games, Drama, Animal Balloon making, Movie sessions, Rounder’s, football, a Make-up tutorial – to only name a few – we worked hard to capture the interests of as many students as possible. Everyone becomes involved and this is down to the staff and students who gladly volunteer their time. It has now become a highlight of the school calendar.

Meridian High School Summit team, Meridian High School

The Summit team have set up a phenomenal provision in the  school which supports the social, emotional, and mental health of every young student in their care. The summit provision is expertly lead by Jayne Curd and Gary Newton the senior leaders responsible for pastoral, behaviour, and attitudes. During Covid the pastoral team have made a vision become a reality where a team of non-teaching pastoral welfare leaders, learning mentors, Thrive practitioners and child wellbeing practitioners work together to meet the needs of the students so that learning can become their focus and ultimately keys to their future successes. Jayne and her team have set up SEMH workshops that focus on the issues that our relevant to their context. This includes social skills, ready to learn, self-confidence, Thrive, zones for regulation, emotional well-being, ‘lives not knives’. The team lead weekly Thrive sessions with staff to support teachers and LSAs with key strategies to enable the student to access and thrive in learning. This has now also started with our prospective year 5 and 6 students where the team have been leading sessions for parents and children who are vulnerable and need more support. During the pandemic the team made over 5000 calls and home visits to our students and families and provided them with laptops to access learning as well as food parcels for those in need. The team not only offer support to students but also support parents.  Our demographic is challenging but is our driver as Jayne and her team embody the mantra that positive educational outcomes will increase the life chances for the young people and community that we serve and where ever they can they make it possible for students to be successful.

St. Louis Grammar School Ballymena,
Anti-Bullying initiative

The newly appointed Head Girls/Boys introduced a new role within the prefect team called ‘Anti Bullying Prefects.’ They chose two Head prefects who they knew would have empathy, be great listeners and role models for kind behaviour.  We asked the Year 14 student body to decide if they would like to become part of this team so that we would have enthusiastic and passionate pupils leading the initiative.  Aligned with this we enlisted Year 8-13 pupils and merged them with the team to take part in Anti–Bullying Training provided by The Diana Award Organisation and as a result we had a fully trained second group of Anti-Bullying Ambassadors (one girl and boy from each year group).  The groups have worked hard to achieve their Online Safety Badge and Student Wellbeing Badges awarded by the Diana Award.  The pupils have a dedicated safe space for students to report bullying behaviours to their peers.  This is in response to research by Ofsted which reports that young people are more likely to share concerns with their peers than with adults.  They produced a rota so that a male and female ambassador is present at break time in the new creative Arts building.

Anti-Bullying Presentation.

We choose to educate the school on bullying behaviours and why it is not kind or right to bully anyone. The Anti-Bullying Ambassadors put across information such as, photos of Anti Bullying Prefects and who they are, where the safe space is and to highlight ‘One Kind Word’ for Anti Bullying week. The presentation was shown to every single pupil and staff member on Monday 15th November at 10.30am.

Poster Campaign

Anti-Bullying Ambassadors created posters and used resources from Anti-Bullying websites to highlight that bullying behaviours are wrong.

Russell Friese, Bassett House School

Alongside their current extensive pastoral program, the school has introduced a new individual pastoral care initiative that delivers a threefold support system to ensure no pupil is left behind and that every child receives the personalised pastoral support they need.  To achieve these goals the school has introduced the following:
1. Each child receives a personalised pastoral plan as soon as they join the school whether that is in EYFS or as an in-year admission. In this plan the children record their wishes, feelings and personal targets and discuss these with their Form Teacher and the Pastoral Lead to ensure the correct support is given.
2. A pupil pastoral audit is completed at end of each term and involves the Headmistress, Deputy Head and Pastoral Lead meeting with individual Form Teachers to discuss the pastoral requirements for every child in their class which then inform an action plan for each class and each individual pupil
3. Weekly “Communication Station” hub sessions are attended by selected children who have been recommended by Form Teachers, Senior Leaders and even parents, and focus on helping those children who require extra support with areas such as, but not exclusive to, verbalising feelings, building confidence, building friendships and managing emotions. The sessions incorporate games, role plays, group discussions, drawing, writing, talking about feelings, circle time and reading stories in order to help the children develop their skills in these areas. The children selected really enjoy the sessions and it has had a continued positive impact on their learning and friendships, which are the main aims of the programme.

Michael Fitzsimons, Trinity Sixth Form Academy

Trinity+ is an innovative approach to the wider curriculum offer at Trinity Sixth Form Academy (TSFA). The pandemic brought many challenges, but also enabled leaders at TSFA to re-evaluate curriculum design and best practice. After a period of research and consultation, involving students, staff and academic literature, Trinity+ was born.   Trinity+ is a two-and-a-half-hour lesson, delivered by a senior leader and supported by two personal progress tutors (PPTs). The lesson takes place in one space, with IT facilities, taught in real time but also beamed live on MS Teams. Trinity+ is made up of five components:  Personal Development is planned meticulously. The curriculum considers guidance from the PSHCE Association and represents the needs of our student demographic and local labour market.  Self-Appraisal provides students with an opportunity to reflect on their progress in all aspects of their 6th Form lives. A weekly rolling survey is utilised, with students reflecting on diet, sleep, water intake, attendance, conduct, progress and attainment, emotional and social health, and wellbeing. The results are used by pastoral staff for proactive discussion with students and curriculum refinement.  Life Ready lesson was a concept born through observation. 60% of students at TSFA come from the bottom 30% of deprived families and both oracy and public speaking confidence are considerable obstacles for students. Life Ready lessons focus on increasing tier two vocabulary, teaching students about the pleasure of reading and emerging students in progressive public speaking opportunities.  Focused Independent Study involves modelling best revision habits and creating an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and self-betterment. Monitoring meetings take place within this time between students and PPTs, safeguarding and SEND teams, and our in-house careers advisor.  The Literary Message concludes each lesson and centres on a piece of text from a renowned author.

The nominations for the 2023 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education are now with the judges.

The finalists will be announced in the June NAPCE newsletter.

The grand Presentation Event will take place in the Graeme Hick Pavilion at Worcestershire County Cricket Club in Worcester on Friday 29th September, 2023.

Details will be available soon.

BOOK: New Book Offers Important Reading for People Concerned with Pastoral Care in Education

We are very pleased to offer readers of NAPCE News a 20 per cent discount on an important new book which focusses on pastoral care.

Square Pegs by Fran Morgan in collaboration with Ellie Costello is available now.

The book is priced at £19,99 and you can claim a 20 per cent discount by using the offer code ‘SQUAREPEG20’ via or by scanning the above QR code.

For more information about the book visit

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