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NAPCE News – November 2021

NAPCE News – November 2021

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

FEATURE ARTICLE:  “Student Voice and Care During Covid-19” by NAPCE NEC Member Luke Myer

Student voice and care during COVID-19 by Luke Myer

It’s clear that the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated inequalities in education. But, in many ways, it has also brought educational communities closer together – reducing attainment gaps and putting learners and staff in a shared, albeit unprecedented, situation. Care has never been so important.

The latest special issue of NAPCE’s Pastoral Care in Education explored the importance of care in the time of COVID-19; it hopped around the globe, with case studies from New Zealand to Guatemala. It studied every level of education – from a feminist view of pastoral care for young children in Spain to the experiences of disabled students in UK universities. One contribution, from an Indigenous Moana/Pacific perspective, explored the idea of ‘teu le vā’, or nurturing the relational space between people, and what that looks like during the pandemic – the ‘digital va/vā’.[1] At its core, care is about understanding the needs of others and helping meet them. The most important voices in pastoral care, therefore, are those of learners themselves. Pastoral care at its most effective offers learners space to talk; this is as true in early years as it is with postgraduate students.

Student voice has increasingly become established in school life; it’s difficult to visit a primary or secondary school without seeing a display board celebrating a student council or prefect system. In higher education, ‘student engagement’ is a core feature, embedded in the UK Quality Code.[2] It’s a legal requirement for UK universities to have independent, democratic students’ unions, enshrined in the 1994 Education Act. Empowering students to speak and involving them in decision-making brings shared benefits in terms of better academic outcomes and continuous improvement of pedagogy. But it also brings benefits for students themselves – increased resilience, sense of belonging, civic participation, and trust.[3],[4] The Anna Freud Centre reports that schools with a strong commitment to student voice see better behaviour, reductions in exclusions, and improved attainment.

However, in the pandemic, opportunities for student voice have been limited. With online learning, disruptive lockdowns, and frequent pupil self-isolations, teachers have struggled to deliver learning at its most basic.

“We’ve had a huge influx in pupils losing social skills, being anxious around others, and struggling to stay in lesson,” one secondary teacher in Cheshire told me. “We have so many kids now on half timetables to help deal with it.”

A similar view was shared by a head of department at a north London secondary school.

“On top of poor social skills from missing so much school, we had a flood of problems when students returned – things that had gone on at home or on social media. It was exhausting. We weren’t expecting it, nor were we provided with the resources to deal with it effectively.”

2021 UNESCO survey of secondary teachers across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa found that during the pandemic, ‘the vast majority of young people, regardless of whether they live in Europe or MENA, lost out on opportunities to have their voice heard’. So, what does student voice look like in the ‘digital va/vā’? Can it be delivered? And how does it impact on pastoral care?

“The reliance on digital technology has gone up,” the head of department tells me. “But this is a good thing because I can easily communicate and share with my groups. There are still boundary issues to resolve, for example if I get an email on a Sunday night from a student. But I think the emergence of tools like Google Classrooms has been really good.”

In the initial lockdown in spring 2020, case studies published by the QAA showed universities like Robert Gordon and Harper Adams had been carrying out online pulse surveys of students’ experiences in online learning environments. Robert Gordon University’s Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Access department (DELTA) gathered feedback which identified technological and social barriers to learning. These were then included in students’ extenuating circumstances, and a programme of free online industry-focused short courses were developed to address skills needs.

In Liverpool, mass online feedback from secondary school students during the pandemic has begun informing new mental health strategies. Eighty-five local schools took part in the 2021 OxWell Student Survey, an annual online study that asks students aged 9-18 about wellbeing and mental health. Over 11,600 young people across the city took part, sharing thoughts on their wellbeing at school during the pandemic. Liverpool City Council’s Education, Employment & Skills team have begun using the feedback to work with schools on new programmes like Forest Schools and peer-to-peer playground support. The exercise will result in close collaboration between schools, including joint training to tackle children’s low-level mental health needs.

These surveys show how the insights of learners can bring an invaluable perspective, shaping what we do when it comes to pastoral care. But student voice can go deeper than this too. The language in the Quality Code I mentioned earlier reads:

The provider actively engages students, individually and collectively, in the quality of their educational experience.

In practice, this means that meaningful student voice systems allow students to shape their education in partnership with staff. They can do so ‘collectively’, in spaces where they can consider, deliberate and develop their own informed views together. They can also do so ‘individually’ – with staff differentiating their teaching and learning based on the student’s own views. Learning is, after all, a two-way street – it’s not simply done ‘to’ students, but with the effort they put in too. So, when students have the opportunity to actively shape their learning, schools create a partnership model which can drive high-quality education.

The advance of technology in education can help. UNESCO’s Europe-MENA survey found that after the pandemic, 87% of teachers were using social media to stay connected with students.[5] They also reported a 19% increase in teachers using digital student voice methods, with 54% doing so in “most” or “all” lessons.

The case studies cited range from student-led films about pupil experiences in Greece and Tunisia, to interactive online seminars with leading community members in Romania. In the Greek example, school pupils used social media groups and online meetings to share their feelings about learning from home. This was coupled with lessons on film-making skills, and the end result was a collaborative video project which received international recognition.

In the UK, most universities involved student representatives directly in their COVID planning; examples range from the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association to Cardiff Metropolitan University. Students’ union elected officers typically attended university committees by Zoom, including strategic and operational decision-making meetings. Many held daily or weekly Student Voice sessions to collate student concerns from social media and email, and identify patterns to feed back to the university. The University of Bath students’ union created a Facebook ‘Corona Community’ with nearly 4000+ students, and coupled it with Microsoft Teams sites for communicating with specific groups, for example international students. The union was able to capture detailed data on students’ engagement with online learning.

The north London school has used Google Classrooms to develop pupil-driven PSHE. “My school have started doing ‘MyZone’,” the department head told me. “It’s an hour a week dedicated to student-led discussion of social issues like mental health and digital communication skills. The students have shaped what we do – we talk about the things that they want to discuss, and giving them that control means they turn up and engage.”

A similar initiative was introduced in the Cheshire school. “Every Wednesday, period one, we have a ‘Spirit’ hour,” explained the teacher. “It’s based on the PSHE curriculum, but through lockdown we adapted it based on what kids were asking to give them an insight into the NHS, infections, and so on.”

A whole-school approach to pastoral care means listening to everyone’s voices, and learners themselves are as important as anyone. When schools involve them in their decision-making, it drives positive change and improved outcomes, as well as individual empowerment and confidence-building. It takes effort – it’s not a one-off exercise, but a continuous cycle of improvement. It takes time to bed in, and to ensure that it’s inclusive of all students rather than the ones most likely to get involved. But it’s worth it.

The pandemic has been a painful, disruptive time for education, but it can also be an opportunity for change. If schools embrace digital tools for student voice, they can show students that their views are valued, that it is safe to share, and that they will be heard. In turn, we’ll all benefit – in school and in wider society.

Luke Myer
National Executive Committee

[1] Baice, T., Fonua, S.M., Levy, B., Allen, J.M. and Wright, T. (2021). How do you (demonstrate) care in an institution that does not define “care”?. Pastoral Care in Education, 39(3), pp.250–268.
[2] Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) (2018) UK Quality Code for Higher Education. Gloucester: QAA.
[3] Lyndon, H. (2020) ‘Listening to Children’ in Williams- Brown, Z. and Mander, S.Eds. ‘Childhood Well-being and Resilience: influences on educational outcomes’. Abingdon: Routledge.
[4] Fielding, M. (2004) “New Wave” Student Voice and the Renewal of Civic Society. London Review of Education, 2, 197-217.
[5] UNESCO (2021) The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student voice: Findings and recommendations. Paris: UNESCO. p.18

GOOD PRACTICE: Outstanding Pastoral Care Practice from NAPCE Awards “Team of the Year” Finalists

The National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education organised by NAPCE were a opportunity to recognise the brilliant work that has been done in pastoral care.

It is a great opportunity to shine a light on the amazing efforts to support learners and the good practice that is taking place in schools across the UK and internationally.

This month we focus on the category for the Pastoral Team of the Year which is sponsored by the Thrive Approach to share some good practice from the finalists and winner.

This award goes to 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.

The Winners of this award in 2021 were All Saints C of E Primary School, Wigston Leicestershire. 

The pastoral team have worked tirelessly to help provide an education for some of our most vulnerable children.

From visiting children during lockdown, to providing a provision that starts as soon as the children get into school and finishes when they leave.

The team have sourced breakfasts for the entire school, offer bespoke behaviour interventions throughout the day and also support our families when in need.

The pastoral team also offer support for the rest of our colleagues, supplying training, advice and interventions when needed.

We are about to go the entire school year with zero fixed-term or permanent exclusions, something the school has never achieved before. This is down to our fantastic pastoral team.

The finalists for this category shared this excellent practice with the judges.

The Grove Pastoral Team, The Grove School, Tottenham, London

The team supports the wellbeing of our autistic pupils across the school and beyond within the borough.

They lead on initiatives such as PBS and developing valuable life skills including social skills and independence.

Their work focuses on helping our autistic learners to understand their emotions and regulate themselves appropriately.

The team works with families through home visits and family support to ensure the work in school is continued at home.

Success through lockdown was a 96% engagement from families and in school through negative incidents decreasing dramatically and positive records increasing by over 200%.
Limavady High School , Limavady, Northern Ireland.

Team = Vice Principal, SENCO, 2 Heads of Key Stage and 6 Heads of Year. Team members have attended training in mental health first aid, suicide prevention, ACEs and neglect.

Focus on restorative practice, building relationships and engaging with parents. Surveys used during lockdown to identify pupils struggling and all received phone calls/virtual meetings.

Delivery of personal development programmes with a focus on 5 Ways to Wellbeing and core values. Every external agency meeting is attended. Provision of safe spaces and bespoke support packages.

Team focus on pupil voice which is a School Development Plan priority. RESTORE programme after lockdown.

Nidderdale High School, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.

Nidderdale High School Pastoral Team are nominated for their strength and togetherness and for the support they continually offer to every young person in the school, their families and carers.

They have a reputation for resolving complex and difficult cases, often using the environment of the Nidderdale countryside to find bespoke ways of working whilst additionally promoting good mental health and wellbeing.

The Pastoral Team has ensured that every young person felt supported, listened to and noticed throughout the periods of closure and uncertainty.

They have remained contactable, approachable, inclusive and strong, promoting a constant culture of kindness and care.

Buxton Community School, Buxton, Derbyshire.

The pastoral team at BCS put our children at the heart of everything they do. Well-being, emotional health, safety, friendships, parental support and supporting children with SEND.

They’ve worked tirelessly through COVID and are now helping children get back into normal routines. School is a safer, happier and more nurturing place because of this team of absolute heroes.

They’re amazing and our students, staff and parents are lucky to have these people in their lives. Thank you.

Have a look at this link to see how our finalists celebrated as the winners were announced at the Presentation Ceremony.

The 2022 National Awards for pastoral care are about to be launched and to find out how you can make nominations to recognise good practice in pastoral care in education follow NAPCE on Twitter @NAPCE1 and look out for details in future editions of the NAPCE newsletter and on the website

ANTI-BULLYING WEEK: A New Book by NAPCE Editorial Board Member Helen Cowie Raises Awareness of Bullying

Anti-bullying week 2021 – A School For Everyone: Stories and Lesson Plans to Teach Inclusivity and Social Issues

Anti-bullying Week, coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, is an annual event empowering everyone to unite against bullying. “One Kind Word,” the theme of Anti-Bullying Week 2021, which runs from 15th – 19th November, focuses on how little acts of kindness can make a huge impact and how we should all respect each other’s differences.

“A SCHOOL FOR EVERYONE: Stories and Lesson Plans to Teach Inclusivity and Social Issues” is a research-informed empathy-building discussion tool for educators that shares this anti-bullying message, encouraging respect for individuality and showing young people how they can make a difference.

By increasing knowledge and understanding of a wide range of social and emotional issues, the book promotes acceptance and celebration of diversity in the school environment so that all classmates feel valued and included.

The compendium provides 16 stories told from the different perspectives of individual children from one class over the course of three terms.

Each chapter opens with discussions about tricky topics including gender diversity, bereavement, disability, body image, frenemies, cyber-bullying, parental divorce, living in poverty, and climate change, to help children develop empathy for their peers.

Shared reading of a story gives each child insight into the inner thoughts of a character who is experiencing distressing emotions.

Alongside classmates who are facing these difficult issues, we also meet Jakub who is from Poland, Molly who is not a stereotypical girl, Oliver who is on the autism spectrum, Jamie whose dad is in prison, Hind who is a refugee, Margaret who is from a gypsy family, and Michael who learns about important Black Britons. By reading their stories, young people start to imagine what it feels like to be one of them.

For each issue raised, the story is followed by a fact file, a set of interactive activities, lesson plans and a bank of resources to further enhance understanding and promote empathy.

Research suggests that interacting with peers and guiding children’s learning can help children learn more than working on their own.

The activities are designed for children to work together to support their learning. In the group setting, minds meet and beliefs can be discussed within a supportive environment.

Bystanders can reflect on the positive impact of just one kind word. Marginalised children can gain hope that there are solutions to difficult situations. Children who bully can see the effect of negative behaviour on the character in the story.

There are several characteristics typical of children exhibiting bullying behaviours – and a lack of empathy for the distress that their actions cause is a key characteristic. One way to increase empathy is through real or “imagined” contact. Research studies have found that when people from different groups make contact with each other, prejudice is reduced and relations are improved.

However, there are two ways in which this contact is difficult.

First, reduction of prejudice can only work when there is an opportunity for contact. Some schools may have low levels of diversity so that children do not have the opportunity to interact with people who are different from themselves. Second, sometimes people become anxious about interacting with someone who is different from themselves, preventing contact from reducing prejudice.

This is another reason why the concept of imaginary contact becomes so important. Imagined contact can reduce children’s future anxiety about meeting people different from themselves.

Reading stories about people who are different and leading children to imagine interacting with them – imaginary contact – can be a powerful force for change.

Researchers have found that imagining an intergroup interaction can have many of the same effects as actually participating in intergroup contact.

The first-person stories and activities in “A School for Everyone” aim to create contact, leading to more compassionate and inclusive classrooms, where diversity is celebrated. Just as one kind word can lead to another, our hope is that “A School for Everyone” can make a difference.

Helen Cowie
Editorial Board Member

MEMBERSHIP: Renewals for NAPCE 2022 Membership Are Being Sent Out

2022 Membership Renewals – NAPCE

Invitations are being sent out to NAPCE members to renew your membership for 2022.

Next year it will be 40 years since the National Association for Pastoral Care was formed and the academic journal Pastoral Care in Education was published.

Special events including a weekend conference and Anniversary Dinner are planned to celebrate the 40 years that NAPCE has been supporting education.

Members will have priority for bookings so to make sure that you are fully involved in the Association’s special year renew your membership early and get the full benefits of being a member of NAPCE.

If you have shown your interest in the work of NAPCE by registering for the newsletter or following NAPCE on social media, then now is the time to become a member in time for the anniversary year.

The National Executive have made the decision to NOT INCREASE THE PRICE OF MEMBERSHIP for 2022 and full membership includes a subscription for four copies of the academic journal to be delivered to your home address.

Taylor and Francis publishers manage the membership subscriptions on behalf of NAPCE and their contact details are T&F Customer Services, Sheepen Place, Colchester, CO3 3LP, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7017 5543 . Fax: +44 (0) 20 7017 5198 . Email: Contact Taylor and Francis to find out about the different ways that you can pay your subscription.

APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP –  Individual and Group memberships include a subscription to Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PCE) Published by Routledge

INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP including one copy of PCE Individual Subscription Rate £44 US$88 €57 NQT/Retired/Student Individual Rate £21 US$40 €33

GROUP MEMBERSHIP including two copies of PCE Group Subscription rate £66 US$132 €86 Primary/Special School Rate £43

ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP society membership only – does not include PCE subscription. Associate Subscription rate £10 US$16 €30

Follow this link to apply for membership RPED_NAPCEmembership-New.pdf ( or go to Apply Online – NAPCE to apply for membership online.

AWARDS: Entry for the NAPCE Awards 2022 is Now Open

We are delighted to launch the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2022 organised by NAPCE.

The third annual NAPCE awards will be in the 40th anniversary year for the Association and we are inviting everybody with a pastoral role or an interest in how pastoral care in education can support children and young people to achieve their full potential.

We are looking for the people, teams and organisations that make a real difference in the learning experience of children and young people and want to recognise their achievements and celebrate their good practice.

The categories for the awards this year are:-

Pastoral School of the Year
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.

Pastoral Team of the Year
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.

Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year
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.

Pastoral Leader of the Year
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.

Pastoral Development of the Year
A pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people.

Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care
A person, group or organisation that has made a real difference in pastoral care, for the benefit of young people.

International Contribution to Pastoral Care
An international school, organisation outside of the UK or an individual working in research or in an international school outside of the UK, that has promoted or delivered high quality pastoral care.
Raising Awareness about Pastoral Care
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.

The maximum number of words to support a nomination is being increased from 100 words to 300 words this year so there will be every opportunity to describe the good practice and the impact it is making.

Nominations can be made for excellent contributions to research, for raising awareness and for good practice in pastoral care in education from the 2021 -2022 academic year. The sponsors and panel of judges will be announced shortly.

The closing date for nominations is 30th May 2022 and the judges will then have the difficult task of deciding who the finalists and winners will be in each category.

A grand live presentation event is planned for the anniversary year in the autumn to announce the winners.

All finalists will receive a certificate form NAPCE to recognise their achievements and winners will receive a plaque and a £100.00 cash prize.

Make sure your good practice is recognised by making a nomination today.
To make a nomination for the 2022 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education organised by NAPCE go to

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