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NAPCE News – November 2020

FEATURE ARTICLE: “Teaching during COVID-19” – the Challenges of Educating During the Pandemic with NAPCE Officer John Hunt

Educational Challenges During COVID-19 By John Hunt

The challenges of teaching throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been varied and wide ranging.

With bubbles, online lessons, hybrid lessons, tracking and tracing, social distancing, masks in communal areas and strict teacher zones (or ‘the technical area’ as one colleague called it, which I liked!), it is easy to forget what ‘normal’ was before we were collectively hit by these absolutely necessary but slightly strange measures.

It is not, however, teaching that I wish to continue to focus on in this short article.

It is not the academic progress of our students, the loss of lesson time, the online learning or even the challenges that we as teachers face, all of which I feel have been given significant air time already.

I want to explore an observation I have made over these first ten weeks and would truly welcome any feedback of similar or contradicting experiences.

As a pastoral leader in a school, I still have the benefit and pleasure of seeing every year group, every day, when on playground duty and supporting staff across the school.

Year groups are kept separate, with staggered start times, break times and lunchtimes in order to maintain a safe distance between students.

While this has presented a significant challenge in terms of allocating duties, from a behaviour perspective this structure has had an undeniably positive impact in many ways.

Less students are out at break and lunch time, there is less physical space in school for staff to monitor at any one time due to the limited number of students needing to be supervised, Heads of Year can pick up students knowing exactly where their entire year group will be at one certain time and so on.

However, it has raised a question for me as I have observed our younger students: what impact is the lack of usual socialisation having upon these young people?

In September every year, Year 7 students join schools with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

No matter how great a transition programme they have experienced, these feelings are completely natural and I’m sure most of us remember them!

No longer are they ‘The Year 6’s’, the oldest kids in the school, the kids that know everything, the kids that know how it all works, the big fish in a small pond.

They are on a bigger site, equipped with all of the stationery imaginable, requiring a map to get around, with their new planner, with a much larger number of students and staff, with all kinds of new routines, experiences and issues to navigate.

They meet the older year groups and suddenly realise they are very much the smaller fish in a very big pond! Not this year, though, and it is very noticeable indeed…

In my experience, Year 7’s learn very quickly what is and is not socially acceptable on a secondary school playground!

The initial excitable behaviours of break time play, ticking, chasing etc. stops relatively quickly (often after they have accidentally bumped into a group of Year 10 boys!) Not this year, though…

At the time of writing, I find current Year 7 to be the ‘youngest’ of this year group I have ever seen in terms of their interactions with each other and with staff.

They are certainly a unique Year 7, in that they have not yet come into contact with any older students; they are in a strange limbo of having started secondary school but not yet having the full secondary experience.

They have not gone through the same rites of passage that almost all Year 7/ First year students before them have done and I find this genuinely interesting as I watch and monitor their behaviours during recreational time in school.

It has made me question what it is that sees young people lose this urge to play so publicly once joining secondary; is there anything we could have done differently to allow our youngest students to feel more comfortable in doing so?

Do the social norms in secondary schools prevent our youngest students from expressing themselves in this way? Do they want to behave like this every year but feel unable as a result of the cultural norms developed in schools over the years?

The evidence I’ve seen this term so far would certainly suggest so!

It is probably not unreasonable to think that their entire first secondary school year might be spent like this – separate break times and lunch times to the wider school.

I am keen to see how this develops over time and, when/if we return to ‘normal’ (whatever that was), I’ll be watching very closely to see how their delayed introduction to the wider school population goes… How will they cope? How will our older students respond to these younger students?

In the meantime, I hope that they continue to show the joyful exuberance they have brought with them from primary school. While I am 100% a secondary teacher and not at all used to seeing this behaviour on a secondary school playground, it certainly has its charms.
John Hunt
NAPCE Officer & Pastoral Leader

EVENT: NAPCE Partners with ASCL for Online Conference in January for Pastoral Leaders


Conference for Pastoral Leaders 2021 with ASCL

NAPCE is very proud to be partnering again with the Association of School & College Leaders for a new online Conference in January 2021.

The ASCL Conference For Pastoral Leaders 2021 – entitled “Reaching Out” – will take place on the internet across three days and will address the key issue of breaking barriers for disadvantaged learners.

Speakers at the event – on January 19th, 25th and 26th – include ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton, CEO of Bite Back 2030 James Toop and the Alliance Director of Bite Back 2030 Melanie Renowden.

Additional speakers will be announced soon.

About the Event

In a year that has brought extraordinary challenges for everyone, the support for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people continues to grow in complexity.With a great deal of uncertainty about what the months ahead may hold, the number of students facing barriers which impact their learning and development will grow.

Suitable for leaders across all phases, our 2021 Conference for Pastoral Leaders will focus on a range of issues, including wellbeing, safeguarding, the disadvantage gap, RSHE plus pastoral care and remote provision.

How it works

This conference will be delivered completely online through keynotes and interactive workshops. All sessions will be available to watch live or later via recordings.

Keynotes will take place on Tuesday 19 January from 10am – 12noon

There will be five workshops delivered across Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 January.

Webinar Requirements 

To attend this webinar live, you will need to ensure  you have access to a computer or device that meets the system requirements available here.

If you cannot attend live you will receive a copy of the recording, links to any resources discussed, and the opportunity to submit questions.


£125 +VAT per delegate
£250 +VAT for a school licence

Multi-academy trusts and other institutions with multiple sites should email for a quote.

To book tickets click this link

FROM THE CHAIR: NAPCE Chief Phil Jones Looks Ahead to an Educational ‘Reset’ in 2021

The 2021 Education “Reset”

This year in education has been an exhausting challenge to cope with the unexpected.

The focus in schools has been on operational responses to the challenges presented by the pandemic, alongside all the usual challenges that schools face in any normal year.

Schools have had to adapt their practice to ensure that they are providing a safe learning environment for staff and learners.

The daily priority has been to teach young people as much as possible, as well as possible, in the middle of a global pandemic.

There has not been time for the luxury of creative thinking or developing new initiatives, to find exciting ways to improve the learning experience, which is often what gives educationalists working in schools such job satisfaction.

Old Moore’s Almanac has been published since 1697 and it uses astrology to make predictions for the coming year.

It may seem strange to be, ‘looking to the stars’ for inspiration and hope at this difficult time.

I have been reading the latest edition and it does encourage you the reflect on our experiences this year and to start looking forward to the opportunities that 2021 may bring for education.

Old Moore’s Almanac calls 2021 the year of ‘the reset’.

This is a term that I have heard in the last few weeks following the declaration that Joe Biden is the winner of the US presidential election even though that is still contested by the current resident of the White House.

It also seems relevant with the encouraging news emerging about the search for a vaccine. Published in June 2020 Old Moore’s Almanac commented.

“This is the right time to change the ways that the world has been working for everybody’s sake. The reset is upon us and there is no turning back”.

The concept of ‘the reset’ is useful for reflecting on the future of pastoral care and support for learners in our schools.

The pandemic has seen an increase in online learning, especially in higher education but also in schools. It is likely that this trend will continue and we will see an increasing use of technology to support learning.

Pastoral systems are likely to be under increased pressure to support young people, to become effective as independent learners, to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities provided by the developments in technology.

At the same time, the sharing of ideas and the need for collaborative approaches to problem solving will require pastoral systems, to encourage the personal development of young people to enable them to be successful at working in teams.

A new book, published recently, “Forget School. Why young people are succeeding on their own terms and what schools can do to avoid being left behind “, encourages educationalists to consider the relevance of how schools are currently organised for meeting the needs of young people in the modern world.

One review of the book comments.
Forget School argues that education for the 21st century must focus on the road ahead of us and not to teach through the rear-view mirror”.

(Mick Cannell, PGDE English Tutor, School of Education, University of Sheffield)

Thinking about the relevance of education in the future encourages professionals working in pastoral roles to consider the purpose of pastoral care and support for learners in the modern school.

It could be argued that currently pastoral care structures and systems in schools focus on encouraging compliance and conformity, to enable the school to achieve good results.

Schools have been left behind because they are operating with a crowd control mentality” 
(Illingworth 2020)

The question is, does this approach provide young people with the skills and attitudes they will need to be successful, in response to the challenges they will face in their future lives in the 21st century.

Pastoral systems that value the passive learner, are not going to make it a priority, to develop the skills and positive attitudes, needed to achieve success in the modern workplace.

Perhaps what is more relevant is an approach to pastoral care and support for learners, that encourages young people to question and challenge ideas and to be confident about working independently and as a member of a team, to find creative solutions to difficult problems.

This requires a change in beliefs about what is the purpose of pastoral care and support for learners in schools. Good results and academic achievement are important for a young person’s future live chances but if developing confidence and self-belief are a priority for pastoral systems, then learners are more likely to achieve their full potential.

The skills of problem solving, creative thinking and effective communication are likely to be more important in the workplace of the future and this requires ‘a reset’ in the approach to pastoral care and support for learners in our schools.

Please share your thoughts and ideas by visiting the NAPCE Twitter page at NAPCE@NAPCE1

Phil Jones
National Chair
The National Association for Pastoral Care in Education

Illingworth, Martin. (2020) Forget School. Why young people are succeeding on their own terms and what schools can do to avoid being left behind. Independent thinking press. Carmarthen, Wales.
Moore,Francis, (2020) Old Moore’s Almanac 2021, W Foulsham and Co Ltd , Croydon

GOOD PRACTICE: The Latest Instalment in our New Series Focusing on Success Stories in Pastoral Care from NAPCE Award Contestants


Welcome to the latest in a series of “Good Practice” reports from finalists and winners of the NAPCE Awards 2020.

Every month we share examples of some of the greatest work within pastoral care in the UK education sector, following the first NAPCE Awards.

In this new edition, we are featuring Eileen Pavey of Litcham School, a mixed all-through school in Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

Eileen was a finalist in the Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care category at the NAPCE Awards 2020.

The following information was submitted to NAPCE by the school and we are very keen to share it with you.

Eileen Pavey, Litcham School – NAPCE Awards 2020 Finalists

My aspiration to support others feels innate.

I have helped to establish the pastoral culture which is deeply embedded into our school and is fundamental in allowing our students to thrive.

Our ethos is built on trusted relationships; with students, families and the wider community and is something that I am extremely proud of.

Alongside Head of Year 7 and 8, I am the transition lead at Litcham School. I offer an array of student support whilst effectively coordinating the pastoral team, outside agency input, and our students who run groups and offer fantastic peer support.

We encourage our young people to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

As a Mental Health First Aider, I cascade training so that everyone can offer the quality care needed for our pupils to develop resilience, flourish, succeed and aspire.

Our students leave as well-rounded citizens and are aware that it’s natural to seek support; we offer a pastoral toolbox for life.

The success of our pastoral teamwork has been recognised by inspectors who reported that the ‘care and support for pupils are outstanding’.

Young people can witness our own struggles. Four years ago my 25 year old son Sam passed away; I have been blessed with such genuine, kind, whole school support.

In Sam’s memory I have set up a charity called ‘Sam’s Fund’ and the generosity has been overwhelming-over £100k has been raised towards a new school pavilion!

We end the year with the entire school taking part in Sam’s Run. A time to remember everyone we have loved and lost.

The atmosphere of togetherness and care is incredible.
I dedicate my wonderful NAPCE nomination to all at Litcham School – staff, students, parents and the wider community; our special Litcham family which I am so incredibly proud to be a part of.

I have added a quote from one of my wonderful Year 7 tutors Josh, who joined Litcham in September 2019:

‘Eileen is an extremely positive and supportive Head of Year who always offers her ear to students and staff alike.

“Her office door is always open and Eileen always makes you feel welcome; whatever else she has going on is put on pause so that she can advise and support.

“As an NQT and Form Tutor, Eileen’s encouragement and assistance has been invaluable to myself and the students this year’.

Eileen Pavey
Litcham School
Head of Year 7 & 8, Senior Pastoral Care Manager and Deputy safeguarding Lead

This picture shows a pull from Litcham School overcoming fears and achieving a zip line drop.

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