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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.

NAPCE News – October 2020

NAPCE News – October 2020

Making a positive difference to young

people through pastoral care

Interested in joining the NAPCE team?
NAPCE is an organisation that depends mainly on volunteers of dedicated 
educational professionals who have a particular interest in the personal, 
social and emotional development of young people. The organisation is 
overseen by a national executive who meet twice a year to plan and 
develop strategy. We have vacancies on the national executive at the 
moment and are looking to recruit new members from all areas of education. 
If you would be interested in joining the executive please visit the NAPCE 
website and fill in a Declaration of Interest form. If you have any questions 
or would like further information please email

AWARDS REPORT: First Ever NAPCE Awards Hailed a Huge Success


The National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education organised for the first time in 2020 had its presentation event on the 24th September.

The event was launched to recognise the outstanding achievements of staff and institutions in pastoral care across the UK education sector.

The inaugural celebration took place online because of the pandemic and more than 100 people attended this virtual presentation to recognise the achievements of people working in pastoral roles to support young people and their learning.

Nominations for the Awards came from all parts of the UK and included representation from primary schools, middle schools, secondary schools, special schools, and Higher Education.

Although participants were unable to meet in person, many of the guests took the opportunity to dress up for the occasion and some of them joined the event in groups with appropriate social distancing of course.

The guest speaker for the evening was Geoff Barton the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Other speakers on the evening included, Phil Jones, National Chair of the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE) and Professor Stan Tucker, Editor of the journal ‘Pastoral Care in Education.

They also made a contribution to the awards as judges along with Professor Richard Pring, from Oxford University and Associate Professor, Anne Emerson, from Nottingham University.

The Host for the evening was Victoria Bownes, a member of the NAPCE National Executive.

The first award of the evening was for Pastoral School of the Year and this was sponsored by BlueSkyEducation.

This award was for 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 names of the five finalists were read out and it was then announced that Grove School was the winner. The Grove School, in Tottenham, caters for children and young people 5–19 who have a primary diagnosis of autism, some pupils have additional needs. Their vision to ‘Inspire Excellence – Champion Potential and Empower Learning’ is simple and founded on a desire to make a difference.

Each child has a learning programme tailored to their specific needs and there is a focus on engaging families. The second award was in the category of Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year and this award was sponsored by the Times Educational Supplement.

This award recognises 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. The winner was Dominic Riste who was nominated by his school, All Saints Catholic School and Technology College in Dagenham, Essex.

The nomination said that Dominic, champions aspiration and self – management achieving buy-in from his pupils with engaging competitions and rewarding events. He leads his year group with an open door, never raises his voice and targets vulnerable groups who he turns around from being disengaged to engaged.

The next award was for Pastoral Leader of the Year and was sponsored by Taylor and Francis.

This recognises a person who 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.

The winner was Sarah Freeman nominated by her school, The Park Community School in Barnstaple in Devon. Sarah has been a Head of House for 14 years.  During this time, she has impacted positively, on thousands of students going above and beyond to support students and their families.  She has always been keen to support local causes for local families such as foodbanks, shelter, and respite care.

The nominations for the award for Pastoral Development of the Year sponsored by NAPCE were announced. This award is for a pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people. The 2020 winner of this award was Anneliese Walker form Nidderdale High School in Harrogate. Anneliese developed the Harmony Project for year 10 girls involved in fallouts, unkindness online and bullying.

The award for Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care was also sponsored by NAPCE. This award recognises the achievements of person, group or organisation that has made a real difference for the benefit of young people in the area of pastoral care.

The winner in 2020 was Tor Bank School in Dundonald in Northern Ireland. Tor Bank is a special school with 190 pupils who have severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties aged between 3 and 19. the outstanding work in relation to bereavement is very much a whole-school intervention, tackling this important yet challenging topic right across the school in an age-appropriate manner.

While most school-based bereavement work is reactive and targeted at those directly impacted by a recent bereavement, Tor Bank has also adopted a pro-active, whole-school approach which is both pro-active and responsive, inclusive of everyone in the school community andfocused on individual need.

The award for Pastoral Team of the Year, was next on the programme and this was sponsored by The Thrive Approach.

This award recognises the achievements of 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 in 2020 were the pastoral team from Cardinal Newman Catholic High School, in Warrington in Cheshire. The school is supported by an outstanding non-teaching pastoral care team.

They offer support to students experiencing a variety of challenges: from bereavement counselling from our Chaplain, through Mental Health and Bullying support from our pastoral managers, to our Inclusion Manager offering support groups using trauma informed practice, and our Attendance Officer and Librarian. The final award of the evening was for Raising Awareness about Pastoral Care and this was sponsored by, The Association of School and College Leaders.

This award is for 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 winner was Sean Henn from St Phillips School, in Chessington in Surrey. Sean has published a beautifully written and beautiful account of an intervention with a student in social emotional and mental health provision.

Once all the winners had been announced there was an opportunity to congratulate them with a virtual glass of champagne or in some cases a real glass of something alcoholic even though it was a school night! Some of the comments on the chat line included.

  • “A huge congratulations to the Grove School from all of us at BlueSky”.
  • “I think there are so many stories that everyone should be writing to NAPCE about so we can share your incredible hard work!”
  • “Well done Nidderdale-what an impact you have had on so many lives”.
  • “It is so inspiring to hear theses examples of great pastoral care. Fantastic”.
  • “From the Grove School. Well done Tor Bank”.
  • “Well done NAPCE making so many pastoral heroes supported and recognised in our most challenging times”.
  • “It has been so uplifting to hear the stories and see so many dedicated professionals. who make a huge difference in their field. Together we change lives and thank you and the NAPCE team for getting this together”.
  • “Best wishes everyone and thanks for inviting the ASCL team tonight. An uplifting evening”.
  • “Well done everyone and thanks for organising such a great event”.
  • “Amazing work by all the finalists-congratulations to you all form the team at BlueSky and thank you to all for all the support you give young people in your schools”.
  • “Congratulations to everyone. There really is phenomenal work, passion, and commitment across the country. Well done to everyone”.
  • “Thank you NAPCE”

Phil Jones, National Chair of NAPCE, said. “We are really pleased to have organised these awards to give the recognition that people working in pastoral care deserve. The presentation event has shown that professionals working in pastoral care can be proud of the support and care they provide for young people and the difference it makes in their achievement at school and in their future lives. NAPCE is already looking forward to the 2021 awards and continuing to raise awareness of the positive impact effective pastoral care and support can make on supporting young people to achieve their full potential.  Thank you to our sponsors, judges and especially the schools and individuals nominated for the difference you are making in young people’s lives.”

Information about nominations for the 2021 National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education will be available soon.

National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2020 – The Winners

Pastoral School of the Year – The Grove School
Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year – Dominic Riste, All Saints Catholic School & Technology College
Pastoral Leader of the Year – Sarah Freeman, The Park Community School
Pastoral Development of the Year – Anneliese Walker – Nidderdale High School
Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care – Tor Bank School
Pastoral Team of the Year –  Cardinal Newman Catholic High School
Raising Awareness About Pastoral Care – Sean Henn, The Berne Institute

ARTICLE: NAPCE Officer Dr Max Biddulph Reflects on His 45 Years of Pastoral Care in Education


Bookends: Reflections on 45 years of pastoral care in Education

The 30 September, 2020 was my final day in full time employment at the end of a career in Education spanning 45 years and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the transition into retirement that I’m currently making, hence this opportunity to share some reflections with you.

An image that comes to mind is one of the ‘bookends’ of my professional experience.

One ‘bookend’ comprises the moment when I first stepped into a classroom as a PGCE student from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in November, 1975.

My teaching practice was in a very white working-class secondary school at the edge of the city, where I taught English to a bunch of very lively 14 year olds.

At that time, I was only 7 years their senior. When tutors come to observe, lessons are always memorable and in one I used the technology of the time to play a cassette tape of that Beatles track ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’.

We all got very ‘creative’ together, it was rather ‘hip’ and we had a laugh. The only problem was, being a non-Geordie, I could barely understand a word they said! I remember being touched by the poetry and prose they wrote in response to this lesson. The humanity oozed from text written in biros and fountain pens.

Forty-five years later I encountered my other bookend, working as an Associate Professor of Education and Counselling in the University of Nottingham.

Seven months into the global coronavirus pandemic, my final teaching session was an online team-building workshop delivered via MS Teams to MBA (Masters in Business Administration) students from the unlikely surroundings of my loft at home.

The geographical locations of participants in the workshop was mind boggling, ranging from China, India and Dubai in the east to Mexico in the west and given the associated time differences, I found it uplifting to realise that participants had gone to extraordinary lengths to be present, including not going to bed.

I guess Education is an optimistic project, it’s a hope for a different future in bleak times. That said, embarking on a programme of study always generates a mix of feelings in people ranging from excitement to fear and our newly arrived international students are experiencing an additional layer of challenge of having to quarantine for fourteen days.

Imagine not knowing the city, the culture, the nuances of the language and it being too early in their experience to have established much of a network of friends to access day to day necessities.

So standing back from these two bookends, what are my insights about being an educator and the implications for pastoral care?

Firstly, it’s mind boggling to consider these two snap shots and the huge distance time-wise, society-wise, culture-wise and technology-wise that separates them.

Although the medium of interaction i.e. f2f versus online is clearly very different, there is one common denominator that links the two i.e. the need to build and nurture relationships with those being educated.

Looking back at my initial teacher education it was necessarily pragmatic, concerning itself with the basics of simply being in a classroom and delivering a lesson.

With the benefit of hindsight I realise I stumbled across the more sophisticated skills of nurturing really by chance through trial and error as my career unfolded.

In my time I have sat with young people who have arrived at our school in the morning to find half of it destroyed by fire overnight. I have listened to others who have shared the painful experience of looking for their identity. I have sat with university students who have received devastating news regarding the death of a child thousands of miles away without the financial means to return home to grieve.

In these situations of such raw emotion I realised had to follow my instincts in delivering the compassion and support required.

I felt I just did my best at the time. As educators I think that’s what we do, listen and hold the situation, carry on and walk along side.

Up until recently, there have not been many opportunities to gauge the impact of the pastoral interventions I was making but that changed with the advent of Facebook and then my retirement which released a flood of feedback.

Will you allow me to share some insights and put modesty aside?

Individuals who I taught forty years ago tracked me down and told me things like ‘I was the only person who listened to them’ and ‘you made a huge impact on me at the time’.

The originators of this feedback I now realise, were far more insightful about me as a person than I could have guessed.

I had never imagined that I would work in a university and I can only say what an enormous privilege that has been.

The ‘privilege’ has manifested itself in many different ways ranging from travelling to other parts of the world to teach to experiencing the ‘privilege’ of just ‘being’ with other people, hearing their stories and being let into their inner worlds.

I can only say that this has been a profoundly humbling and educative experience, hence my conclusion that being involved in pastoral care is not a one way street, that there is a pay off in terms of our own lsome of our needs for altruism being met.

So what would I say to newly qualified teachers who may be stepping into this world for the first time this autumn?

My first observation is the simple fact that despite the changing technological environment, drive to get results etc., one thing remains constant and that is that ‘relationship’ matters.

How to be in the relationship with those being educated requires the ability to move between roles which in my experience took me across a wide spectrum ranging from night-club bouncer to counsellor.

The latter points to something really key, which is the ability to ‘hear’ other people, and I am meaning this in a Rogerian sense i.e. to hear the emotional content as well as the factual content of someone’s message.

The case of my workshop student experiencing quarantine is a case in point. His distress was palpable and there to be heard. Lockdown changed the experience of many of our students in Nottingham who after months of isolation were craving interaction and attention, even if this could only be done online.

So this brings me to final point which is that the missing bit from the pastoral care section of my PGCE manual in the 1970s, which is that I should expect to be a companion in the many educational journeys of those with whom I walked alongside. I think I’m really going to miss that.

Max Biddulph
NEC Officer, NAPCE

FROM THE CHAIR: Thoughts on Pastoral Care for Remote Learning with NAPCE Chief Phil Jones

Pastoral Care for Remote Learning

On October 6th Ofsted published evidence from visits to schools between, 14th and 18th September. The purpose of these visits was to explore four questions.

  1. What is the current state of children’s school education?
  2. How have children been affected by schools’ closures, to most children?
  3. How are schools planning to maintain standards in education through the pandemic?
  4. What are schools doing with their COVID-19 catch up funding?

The report recognises that the findings, may not be representative because the schools involved volunteered for visits from Ofsted.

Ofsted will be making further visits to schools and promise to explore remote learning arrangements in more detail during the term.

They found that schools were using remote learning to reach those who had to stay at home. Some leaders in the schools talked about implementing a recovery curriculum, and in some cases, this involved more emphasis on personal, social and health education and wellbeing.

A few schools reported safeguarding concerns about the use of online learning and about learners having access to devices and the internet.

Leaders in the schools visited recognised the difficulties with communicating with parents during periods of remote learning and the difficulties that learners had in completing work at home.

Evidence was found that while learners were away from school, their communication skills had regressed, that they were finding it more difficult to concentrate and some were showing less resilience.

Several leaders in the schools visited said that learners were more subdued than normal.

It was noticed that some learners’ physical health had deteriorated while they had not been in school and a minority had been very anxious about returning to school.

There were examples of schools providing additional support for individual learners such as counselling and a phased return to school.

It was reported that in some schools there had been an increase of safeguarding concerns, linked to domestic abuse during the lockdown and some schools had provided food parcels because some families needed additional support to get the food they needed.

The report highlights the importance for pastoral leaders and staff to consider carefully how to meet the different needs of young people, in an unpredictable and quickly changing situation.

Schools will need to consider how to use available pastoral resources to support learners. Young people need to be able to make sense of their learning experience, their daily lives, and the world around them.

Tutoring provides a planned strategy for supporting young people in school. This is more important in the 21st century, than ever before when young people have access to information on the internet that can influence their thinking and actions. This information can be misleading and, in some cases, factually wrong.

If schools do not have an effective structured approach to tutoring, then young people will find other ways to get the guidance and information they need, from the internet and from their peers, to be able to make sense of their experiences and to have a purpose, to their daily lives.

The information provided by their peers comes with risks, because it is likely that the source was the internet, or they are giving the information they think their peer wants to hear.

Family life in the 21st century means that, in many cases, both parents are working and because of the pressures of full time jobs, they do not have the time to always explore the feelings and concerns of their children when it is most needed.

The family is less likely than in the past to have a regular routine of sitting down to dinner or sharing leisure time together and this means there are fewer opportunities to share and to discuss issues that are important to young people.

A purpose of tutoring is to help young people to make sense of events that are happening, that are having an impact on their daily lives or causing concern. A tutor period is a safe place for worries and feelings to be explored and discussed.

This is a time for issues in school, the local community and in the world, such as a global pandemic, to be discussed with the support of a tutor the young people know and have a trusting relationship with.

A tutor period provides a structured approach to exploring feelings and ideas. An effective tutor group with routines, established expectations and positive relationships can be a safe place where young people can test their ideas and challenge boundaries.

This, of course, does not just happen and there needs to be a planned approach to the pastoral care of young people in the school and the role of the tutor needs to be valued and supported.

It is part of growing up to question the status quo and to use their youthful energy to challenge custom and practice.

I remember being in a school where top buttons on shirts had to be done up and how brave we felt walking down the corridor, with them undone to rebel against the rules.

In one of my first teaching appointments the school had two buildings, separated by a field. At every change of lesson, the Headteacher could be found on the path, supervising to make sure there were no opportunities, for rebellious learners to take a short cut across the field.

I still had my bravery from my school days and one day, I asked him why he allocated so much time to supervising the path.

His answer was that he would rather young people challenge authority on something that does not really matter than on something more serious.

It is not unusual for young people to challenge authority, especially when they feel stressed or uncertain about a situation and this is when effective tutoring can provide young people with a safety net to catch concerns and negative feelings.

This is especially true during a time of crisis and uncertainty. A situation such as a global pandemic means that the need for pastoral support is going to be high, but it will be more challenging to deliver.

Young people need to be supported during changes to their normal experience, for example, during a period of remote learning.

Schools will need to be innovative, to find ways of providing effective support at the same time as having to deliver the academic curriculum. It will be challenging to maintain communication with learners and with parents.

Pastoral support will need to be planned to provide motivation and a sense of purpose for the learners.

Investing time in tutoring can be valuable during a crisis period, to keep young people engaged and feeling supported to make progress in their learning.

An established tutoring structure is an effective way of organising case work, especially when it increases at a time of crisis.

Tutors are in a good position, to know the young people from their regular contact with them and to be more aware of their family circumstances and backgrounds.

This knowledge and understanding informs decisions about appropriate interventions and support, to meet the individual needs of young people and build trust, to ensure that young people and their families are not dealing with issues in isolation.

Planning for remote learning needs to consider how pastoral support will be provided while it is needed and how pastoral resources will be allocated to support learners on their return to school.

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

GOOD PRACTICE: The First Article in a New Series Focusing on Success Stories in Pastoral Care from NAPCE Award Contestants


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

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

In this opening episode, we are featuring Glenlola Collegiate School, a grammar school in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Glenlola Collegiate School was a finalist in the Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care category and the Raising Awareness About Pastoral Care class at the NAPCE Awards 2020.

The following information was submitted to NAPCE by the school.

Glenlola Collegiate is a high achieving girls Grammar school in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and has a Pastoral Care team of four teachers and a pupil counsellor.

We endeavour to take a proactive approach to Pastoral Care and opened the Cygnet Wellness Centre in August 2019 with funding from our PTA.

This is open to all members of staff and pupils.
The Centre comprises a Wellness room, counselling office and a relaxation room and we are presently extending this to include a Wellness Garden.

The Wellness Room is supervised by the Pastoral Care Team and Peer Listeners.

For many years, we have had a team of Peer Supporters – these are sixth form students who apply for the post and have been trained in pastoral care and safeguarding issues using Childline Resources.

Last year, we formed a Pupil Wellness Team comprising Peer Supporters, Peer Listeners and a Pastoral Care Prefect.  The Peer Supporters are attached to Junior School Form classes and the Peer Listeners assist with the running of the Wellness Centre.

Our Pastoral Teachers also received training from AWARE NI and are certified Mental Health First aiders.

Our Counsellor is trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and she takes small group sessions in the Wellness room as well as being available at other times for counselling.

The relaxation room is used for Pilates and mindfulness sessions for staff and pupils and we are presently developing this to include a sensory area, the idea for which came from an Erasmus trip to Helsinki in November 2019.

Work for our Wellness garden is well under way and we hope to open this in August.  Many staff members have assisted with the recent development of the Wellness Garden and we found this to help with our own health and wellbeing as well as providing a space for pupils and staff to relax in.

The work completed thus far has been a whole school effort and we have also found this to be extremely positive in strengthening staff relationships and morale, particularly recently during the very strange and uncertain times we now find ourselves in.

The following photograph is of members of the Pastoral Care Department (From left to right:Brian Montgomery, Vice Principal for Pastoral Care, Ana Savage, Pastoral Care Prefect Heather Law, Head of Pastoral Care, Joanne Wilson, Deputy Head of Pastoral Care, Lorna Monroe, Pastoral Care Assistant. Eric Thompson, Principal, Cheryl Brown, Student Counsellor).

The following two photographs are of our Wellness Room.

The following photographs show members of staff recently working on the Wellness Garden – still a work in progress but we hope to have it ready by the end of August.

NAPCE News – September 2020

NAPCE News – September 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. 

AWARDS: The First Ever NAPCE Awards Takes Place in September 2020, Here’s the Programme & Ticket Link for the Online Ceremony


Ahead of the first NAPCE Awards 2020 ceremony, which is taking place online because of social distancing needs, we’re delighted to share the programme for the event.

We’re also pleased to share the ticket link (below).

A large number of tickets have already been snapped up and the remaining spaces are now available to the general public on a first-come-first-served basis.

For general information about the Awards click here

Thursday 24th September – 7.00pm (via Zoom)

6-45 pm Guests gather on video conference for pre event drinks

7-00pm Introduction and Arrangements for the Evening – Victoria Bownes, National Executive Member and Host for the Evening presented from Lambrook School in Berkshire. 
Highlights Video of Pastoral Care in 2020

Welcome Phil Jones, The National Association for Pastoral Care, National Chair, Address – Recognising Achievement in Pastoral Care

Guest Speaker, Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders, General Secretary  – Geoff studied English and Linguistics at the University of Lancaster, then trained to teach at Leicester University. From 2002 to 2017 he was headteacher of King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, a 11-18 school of 1650 students. He is a Founding Fellow of the English Association and patron of the English & Media Centre. He was a longstanding member of ASCL Council, founding chair of its Pedagogy Committee, and a ‘Leading Thinker’ for the National Education Trust. He was elected as General Secretary of ASCL in April 2017 and is a regular guest on BBC News, speaking on a range of education matters.

Awards – Nominations for each category and Announcement of Winners, Victoria Bownes

Closing Remarks, Professor Stan Tucker, Editor Pastoral Care in Education

Vote of Thanks – On behalf of NAPCE – Victoria Bownes
Good Luck in the new academic and we look forward to hearing of your successes in pastoral care over the course of the year.
Invitation to the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education
On Thursday 24th September 2020
Starting at 7-00 pm. Please join us for pre event drinks from 6-45pm
Where: Zoom

Time: Sep 24, 2020 06:00 PM London
To book tickets:

INSPIRATION: “Thoughts on Pastoral Research” by NAPCE’s Journal Editor Stan Tucker


Some Thoughts on Pastoral Research

Like me, you have probably been listening to and watching various news broadcasts concerning the return of children and young people to school for the new academic year.

One of the major themes of the broadcasts has focused on how the return will impact on the health and wellbeing of those concerned.

For it is fair to say that COVID19 has radically changed the lives of many school-aged children. Even if we consider for a moment the way in which space in school is now being utilised, how different if must feel to sit apart from friends, be continually mindful of the need for social distancing, as well as observing the behaviour of teaching staff as they try and avoid close contact with their students.

Regular readers of Pastoral Care in Education will know that many of our research articles take as their specific focus the wellbeing and mental  health of children and young people in schools.

However, in watching the story of COVID19 unfold, I have become increasingly conscious that research on the impact of the virus is something that is being promised for the future.

It also concerns me that we are likely to only hear about data gathered through large quantitative studies.

So, here is my question: Is there value in those working in schools undertaking their own research into the experiences of children and young people returning to school post-COVID19? I am not talking about a large scale study, but the construction of a number of case studies at the level of the individual school (or of course you could work in partnership with other schools to compare and contrast experiences).

There are all kinds of ways that these studies could be produced – text, video, photographs etc. The voices of young people and staff could be captured, or the diary entries of a member of staff might prove to be illuminating.

NAPCE would be interested in facilitating the production of such materials. Don’t forget also that Pastoral Care in Education has space for the publication of ‘thinking pieces’ where staff, or children, or both, can express their views and talk about their experiences. Or of course you could write something for this newsletter.

If you are interested in discussing your ideas contact me on:

Stan Tucker
Editor, Pastoral Care In Education Journal

September 2020


BOOK REVIEW: NAPCE Chair Phil Jones on “Beyond Wiping Noses” by Stephen Lane, a New Book on Pastoral Leadership in Schools.

Beyond Wiping Noses – An informed approach to pastoral leadership in schools. Book review. 

This new pastoral book written by Stephen Lane (also known as #SputnikSteve on Twitter) was published this month by Crown House Publishing Limited.

It is good to see that a growing interest in pastoral care is resulting in an increased discussion about pastoral issues on social media; more articles and research being presented for publication in journals, including NAPCE’s journal ‘Pastoral Care in Education’ and more books on pastoral topics being published.

The author comments in the book that with the increased focus on mental health and well-being, along with the increase in concerns over cyberbullying and the negative effects of social media, that pastoral care is arguably more important than ever.

This book makes a significant contribution to raising awareness about the contribution effective pastoral care can make to a young person’s educational experience.

It increases understanding about how the pastoral work of the school helps young people to make sense of their education and lives as a member of society.

At the heart of the book is a call for a more informed and evidence-based approach to the organisation and delivery of pastoral care in schools.

It has always been a belief of NAPCE that research informs good practice. In the days before Twitter and the internet, NAPCE was an important forum for members to share good practice and a meeting point for research and debate about good practice.

The book encourages the view that this process is still important even if NAPCE like many other organisations has had to adapt in response to new technology and ways of working.

In many ways the book is a breath of fresh air for NAPCE members and supporters who for many years it seems have been fighting an uphill battle to ensure that pastoral work in schools is valued and recognised for the impact it can have on a young person’s achievement at school and in later life.

The foreword by Mary Myatt recognises the contribution made by the late Michael Marland, who was a founder member of the NAPCE, in raising awareness about the impact of effective pastoral care.

I can remember sitting next to Michael Marland in NAPCE meetings and being aware of his passion and deep-rooted belief that pastoral care was an important part of education.

Unfortunately, that has been challenged in recent years by a focus on examination results and accountability and it is encouraging now that there is a growing awareness about the contribution pastoral work can make to the achievement of young people and this book contributes to this process by developing the readers’ understanding of pastoral issues in schools.

There is a clear structure and organisation to the book with different topics being explored in each chapter in a sensible and balanced way taking advantage of available literature and evidence for each area.

The book provides the reader with guidance on sources of information and resources that can be used to support the planning and delivery of pastoral care in schools.

Each chapter includes a conclusion with a summary of the issues and gives suggestions on how schools and staff working in pastoral roles should respond.

Stephen includes his own thoughts and experience in what he describes as “a reflection of the journey I have taken towards a more informed response to pastoral matters”. (Lane, S. 2020, p5)

There is a focus on secondary schools in the book, which is the author’s own experience, but the issues explored are relevant to professionals working in primary, tertiary and higher education and will develop their understanding and encourage them to reflect on their own policy and practice.

In the introduction the author makes a case for a research-based approach using evidence for the planning and delivery of pastoral care. Stephen comments on how he discovered the NAPCE journal ‘Pastoral Care in Education’.

“immediately I began to see ways to improve my practice in relation to pastoral issues and by extension to improve the experience of the students in my care” (Lane S 2020 p 5.)

In chapter one the book focuses on pastoral roles in schools. It recognises that there can be a lack of clarity about pastoral roles and that they can become reactive and instinctive. He examines the role of the Form Tutor, Head of Year or Middle leader, School Chaplain, School Counsellor and Pastoral Leader in a context where he makes it clear that all adults in a school  have a pastoral duty and that pastoral work is not “wiping noses and kicking butts”.

“Napce does a decent job in encapsulating the plethora of particulars involved. It also succeeds I think in traversing the potential false dichotomy between the pastoral and the academic” (Lane S 2020 p 12.)

He recognises that the NAPCE guidance places a strong emphasis on personal development, which is one of the four key areas in the current inspection framework.

He supports the NAPCE guidelines, placing a strong emphasis on the importance of the skills, knowledge and understanding of staff including the suggested requirement that staff;
“Take responsibility for remaining fully informed about developments in pastoral care and in education that have an impact on the support of learners in schools” (Lane S 2020 p13.)

He examines the plans for a designated Senior Lead for Mental Health in Schools and points out the importance of this being properly resourced and given a high status, which is something that all areas of pastoral work in schools would benefit from. The book argues that it is important for schools to have a clear vision for pastoral roles and that this should be used to inform job descriptions.

In chapter two the book asks the question what research can inform the development of pastoral structures and systems and the delivery of effective pastoral care.

 “In order to achieve effective pastoral care for the welfare, well-being and overall success of our students and enable them to participate -pastoral leaders must embrace and engage with the current movement in educational discourse towards a research and evidence informed practice”. (Lane, S, 2020 p21).

The author argues the case for policies and procedures and daily practice to be based upon and informed by ongoing critical engagement with research and evidence.

He informs the reader about the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to research in pastoral care. In examining the difficult task of defining pastoral care the book uses contributions form NAPCE members.

These include Michael Marland and the ideas presented in his 1974 book That introduced the concept of pastoral care being about the ‘crisis of identity faced by adolescents; what do I want to make of myself and what do I have to work with’. (Marland 1974). The book uses the article by a former NAPCE president Ron Best in 2014 which argues that Marland’s book had a significant and long-term impact upon ideas about pastoral care. (Best R 2014.)
“As the founding chair of NAPCE, Marland’s influence should not be underestimated” (Lane, S, 2020p p30)

To explore definitions of Pastoral, the book  uses the work of another member of NAPCE’s National Executive Committee , Mike Calvert, who in 2009 pointed out a shift away from the term Pastoral due to its ecclesiastical or agricultural roots and associations with outdated notions of power dependence and models of schooling.

The author points out that even within the pages of the journal – Pastoral Care in Education, it is difficult to locate a clearly recognisable definition. This is a fair comment and reflects the challenges of finding a definition which, from my experience, have been a feature of many discussions and debates at NAPCE’s National Executive and Editorial Board Meetings.

Stephen does respond to the readers’ need for a definition by referring to the first edition of the journal and an article from HMI Eric Lord who provided the following definition;
“the bridge between education and life is best made by those who can help the young to find their way among the exhilarating interests, the satisfactions and the baffling ambiguity of human existence”. (Lord 1983 p 11)

The book also uses a definition from Mike Calvert which he summarises as, “the structures practices and approaches to support the welfare, well-being and development of children and young people”. (Calvert, M, 2009, p267).

It is good to see it recognised in the book, that all the discussions at National Executive, Editorial Board and in the Journal have enabled NAPCE to contribute to developing understanding about pastoral care.

“The NAPCE has its own journal ‘Pastoral Care in Education’ which includes a range of papers on various topics and also publishes special themed issues” (Lane S, 2020, p35)

In chapter three the author argues for the need for a ‘knowledge rich pastoral curriculum’. The book provides examples of organisations and sources for resources that can support schools in planning and delivering a pastoral curriculum.

The chapter explores the various approaches to delivering a pastoral curriculum and questions the messages that are really passed on to young people. An approach is encouraged where schools are clear about what they include in their pastoral curriculum and about the key messages that it gives to learners.

This is important if pastoral leaders are not going to leave it to chance which good habits, moral values, and personal characteristics that the learners in their care pick up.

It is seen a part of the pastoral leaders’ role to make decisions about what should be incorporated into a coherent pastoral curriculum and to be clear about the messages that are given by the hidden curriculum which is defined as the unwritten values, perspectives and beliefs that are transmitted in the classroom and around the school.

The focus in chapter four is on the challenges of preventing bullying. The reader is provided with an overview of literature about bullying in school and recognises the important contribution made by the Journal ‘Pastoral Care in Education’ in developing understanding about this issue to inform policies and practice.

The teacher’s role is explored along with the impact of new technology and in particular social media. The reader is provided with a useful summary of intervention strategies and approaches to prevent bullying in a school setting.

Well-being, and mental health are current concerns for schools and the potential cause of the apparent rise in mental health issues and the role of the school is examined.

The impact the school may have, by the pressure it places on learners to succeed because of the schools need to be accountable for their examination results is highlighted. Once again, the reader is provided with resources and sources of information for raising awareness about mental health issues and planning interventions and support.

The writer suggests that schools can improve learners’ self-esteem and their mental health by ensuring that they have experience of success. This has important implications for how the school provides a positive culture and ethos for learning and supports the personal development of its learners.

In chapter six the book explores different approaches to managing behaviour including controversial topics such as isolation booths. There is a well balanced and sensible discussion about the use of restorative practice to and other strategies that can be used to manage behaviour in schools such as ‘warmstrict’, which is described as a modern manifestation of tough love.

By examining different theoretical and ideological perspectives the writer, makes comments and suggestions that will develop the understanding of pastoral staff and encourage them to reflect on their own procedures and practice.

The reader who is looking for practical guidance is not forgotten and the writer shares ideas about practical steps that can be taken to improve behaviour.

The focus in chapter seven is on the recent interest in what has been called Character Education. Definitions of Character Education are explained and different approaches to implementing it as part of the curriculum are shared with the reader.

The literature is used to explore different approaches to Character Education and the reader is signposted to resources and information There is a recognition that Character Education is a contentious topic and this is highlighted by the writer in exploring the available literature. One suggestion highlighted is that character education is needed in schools because the current school system with its focus on examination results does not fully prepare young people for their future lives.

“They suggest that the current schooling system focused as it is on examination results leaves young people with insufficient resilience and fewer coping strategies that they will need in later life” (Lane S, 2020, p111)

In the next chapter the writer, bravely in my view, tackles the current issue about remote learning during the pandemic. The challenges for schools in the short term are difficult to predict and It is not clear what impact the pandemic will have on learning in the future.

The chapter provides the reader with an opportunity to reflect on the recent experience of schools and what implications this might have in both the short term and long term for young people’s education. There has been increased awareness of the work schools do through their pastoral structures and systems to support young people and look after their well-being.

It is frustrating that a global pandemic was needed before the huge difference pastoral staff make, every day by supporting young people and motivating them to achieve their full potential, was recognised and valued.  The writer reports on how schools have continued to take their pastoral obligations seriously and how quickly they have adapted to find new ways to support the learning and well-being of the young people in their care.

The book makes an important contribution to developing understanding about the important impact the pastoral work of the school has on supporting learners on their journey through school and in preparing them for their future roles in society. It makes a clear case for a cohesive pastoral curriculum that is planned, using available evidence and research.

“Teachers must be encouraged to engage in the theoretical and philosophical debate around teaching in order to continually test their practice and so move it towards daily praxis” (Lane, S, 2020, p.126)

This has been the goal for NAPCE since it was first formed in 1982 and this book highlights the important link between research, policy making and practice which has been at the heart of NAPCE’s work for nearly 40 years.

Phil Jones
National Chair
The National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE)

Best, R. (2014) Forty years of pastoral care: an appraisal of Michael Marland’s seminal book and its significance for pastoral care in schools. Pastoral Care in Education, 32(3): 173-185
Calvert, M. (2009) From ‘pastoral care ‘to ’care’: meanings and practices. Pastoral Care in Education,27(4): 267-277.
Jones, P. (2019) National guidance for pastoral support in schools. NAPCE (3 April). Available at
Lane, S. (2020) Beyond Wiping Noses. Building an informed approach to pastoral leadership in schools, Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing.
Lord, E. (1983) Pastoral care in education: principles and practice. Pastoral Care in Education,1(1):6-11.
Marland, M. (1974) Pastoral Care. London: Heinemann

ARTICLE: NAPCE Chair Phil Jones Responds to Guardian Headline “Children in the UK are the Unhappiest in Europe”


“Children in the UK are the unhappiest in Europe”

This was the headline in The Guardian newspaper on Friday 28th August 2020.

Although decisions in education are not normally driven by whether young people are happy or not this report being published, as it was just before schools returned for a new academic year, in the middle of a pandemic, encourages pastoral staff to reflect on the experience of young people in school.

It was reported that more than a third of 15-year olds scored low on life satisfaction in the annual ‘Good Childhood Report’, from the Children’s Society.

Children in the UK have the lowest levels of life satisfaction across Europe with a particularly British fear of failure partly to blame, according to the report.

The UK children fared badly across happiness measurements, including satisfaction with schools, friends, and sense of purpose, when compared with children from other European countries.

The rise in UK child poverty and school pressures were cited alongside the fear of failure as reasons why only 64% of UK children experienced high life satisfaction, the lowest figure of 24 countries surveyed by the OECD.

This situation is not just the responsibility of schools and there are implications in these findings for society and how it supports the development of children in preparation for their future lives.

The well-being concerns about young people cannot be solved by pastoral systems and structures on their own, but by taking time to think about the purpose of pastoral support in school, they can make an important contribution.

One of the most important findings is that young people in the UK today feel that they have no sense of purpose.

Is this perhaps because in many schools today, the role of the Form Tutor is not valued as it should be as being important for supporting young people to make sense of their learning experiences and to raise their aspirations for their future roles in society?

Is it because far too often tutor time is a wasted opportunity?

Time is allocated to administrative tasks and activities such as revision and not to the important interaction, between a Form Tutor and a learner, to provide guidance and motivation.

I would suggest that these findings support the argument that schools, if they are going to meet the needs of the young people they care for, need to invest and value their pastoral structures and systems more.

The pastoral work of the school can sometimes be focused on solving problems to enable the ‘more important’ work to take place, of delivering the curriculum and achieving improved percentages in measurable outcomes.

This is not the schools’ fault, but a result of the emphasis placed on academic outcomes in holding them accountable.

The findings reported by the Guardian suggest that this approach is contributing to the negative feelings of young people, by placing more pressure on them to achieve better results.

In this situation, is it not even more important to ensure, that all young people have access to guidance and effective pastoral support?

The role of pastoral systems. in supporting personal development, is not just about improving outcomes but it is important for encouraging positive attitudes and the personal skills that will enable young people to take full advantage of their education and prepare themselves, for their future lives and roles in society.

The data for the report was collected before the pandemic, so I would argue that the need for the pastoral work of the school to be given the value and status that is deserves is urgent, as it is likely that the challenges schools will face in supporting young people are likely to increase.

Pastoral systems have a vital role, by developing cultures in schools that raise the aspirations and ambitions of all learners, if these findings are going to change for the benefit of the young people in the UK in the future.

Please share your thoughts and ideas on the challenges being faced by professionals working in pastoral care on the Twitter page NAPCE@NAPCE1

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

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

NAPCE News – June 2020

NAPCE News – June 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 Chair Phil Jones on effectively handling “Pastoral Leadership In A Crisis”

It can be argued that when everything is going to plan leadership is easy! It is when you are faced with difficulties or a crisis that leadership becomes challenging.

Most pastoral leaders would probably agree that this happens every day in their role.

When I was a senior teacher, I had a middle leader come to me and complain about the performance of one member of their team. I think they were expecting me to summon the member of staff to my office and tell them off for not performing as expected.

My response was to point out that there may have be reasons why this member of staff was not performing as well at that time and that as a leader they needed to earn their money by finding out the details about the situation and provide support when things were not going well and it is not just about taking the credit, when the team is performing to expectations.

The middle leader was not aware that the member of staff was going through a difficult divorce and although they did not want their private life to become public knowledge it was making it more difficult for them to meet deadlines at work.

It is a much easier task for leaders to develop structures and systems and to implement strategies and developments, but the real challenge comes in leading the people involved in the process. Leaders need empathy to understand the feelings and pressures people are experiencing and to find ways to enable them to make a positive contribution.

“The most powerful thing you can do in a pastoral role is to give someone your understanding” (Daniel Sobel)

This is especially true when there is a crisis.

Pastoral leaders will be under pressure themselves, but this is when their leadership skills and qualities will really be needed and tested.

It is in these situations where it is important for leaders to build trust.  It is an important part of the role for all leaders, that they take every opportunity to build trust, as this will be an investment for when they are facing a crisis or other difficulties.

It is not possible for any leader to please everybody with the decisions they make but to build trust it is important that they always make every effort to act with integrity. With an ethical approach to leadership it can be demonstrated that all decisions are taken in the best interest of the organisation, the people in the organisation and its vision and values.

To achieve this, it is important that leaders are prepared to reflect on their actions and acknowledge where they have not gone to plan and achieved their intended outcomes. It is not about blame but creating a culture which builds trust, where everybody including leaders are encouraged to learn from experiences.

Pastoral leaders need to reflect on the appropriate style of leadership required in a crisis. A crisis can encourage a ‘knee jerk’ response from leaders, but this is a time when careful considered approaches to leadership, are more likely to be effective and achieve sustained outcomes.

“Involving all the people who are going to be affected by the change provides them with a basis for understanding what is going on and an opportunity to influence the change which in turn can generate ownership of it and a commitment to it”. (Daniel Sorbel)

An important role of pastoral leaders which becomes a greater priority during a crisis is to provide a safe learning environment.

This is extremely relevant during the current pandemic where the organisation of schools must change from what learners recognise and know.

The physical environment impacts on how safe people feel and this becomes incredibly challenging when actions must be taken for health reasons, that means normal interaction between people is not possible and buildings do not feel as warm and welcoming,

Safeguarding is a priority for pastoral leaders and this is because feeling safe is an important ingredient for effective learning to take place.

“When you think about a child’s mental, emotional and psychological health we need to prioritise their feeling safe, as they can be a major driving force of mental health disintegration” (Daniel Sorbel)

Changes in the organisation of the school and expectations about behaviours must be explained carefully and in a way that builds trust in the people, who are providing care and leadership for them.

There is an emerging view during the current pandemic, that the educational agenda that has focused on raising standards in recent years is widening its focus to include the socialisation of young people as an important part of a young person’s educational experience.

It has been recognised that the socialisation and personal development of young people has been damaged during the period where schools have not been fully open and that pastoral care needs to be a priority, as learners return to the classroom.

“School are aware that some pupils require additional emotional and pastoral support when they return to school, so making time for pastoral care is a priority”.
(Department for Education)

It has been acknowledged in government guidance to schools that pastoral support is an important part of the support that schools can provide for young people.

“It is up to schools to decide how they want to use face to face support in the best interest of their pupils as additional pastoral support, academic support or a combination”
(Guidance for Secondary School provision from 15th June 2020)

An article from Glasgow University published in April 2020 points out that, “apart from the obvious disruption to learning, school closures are likely to have far reaching negative effects”. (University of Glasgow of Education)

Pastoral leaders will have to plan how to use available resources to meet the pastoral needs of learners and this is likely to be a priority for some time into the future.

“When schools return teachers will be tasked with not simply resuming normal classes but with supporting their students’ emotional wellbeing”. (University of Glasgow School of Education)

The article calls on schools to make the development of resilience a priority to enable young people to cope with shocks in life whether they come from Covid 19 or other threats.

Pastoral support in school is likely to become more relevant, in supporting young people during and after the pandemic and this will encourage a greater understanding of its importance to the learning experience of all young people.

“Pastoral care is   not simply a sub plot in the central story of curriculum, teaching and learning but rather a foundation stone upon which everything else in school can take place”
(Daniel Sorbel)

The experience of leadership during a crisis, encourages leaders to reflect on priorities. It is likely that pastoral leaders will look to focus on the whole person in planning and delivering pastoral support in schools.

In a crisis the importance of developing the whole person is highlighted and encourages a focus on developing resilience and positive attitudes in young people, so they can cope and face challenges in their daily lives.

“There are few who would question that developing the whole human being is a legitimate part of the school’s work”. (Les Bell and Peter Maher)

Effective pastoral support will not be a ‘firefighting’ reaction to problems, but it will become a structure and system for preparing young people for challenges in their lives.

Primitive views of pastoral care, being responsible for maintaining discipline, may not be relevant in schools after the pandemic and pastoral leaders will need to explore how available resources can be deployed, to meet the different needs of all learners in the ‘new normal’.

There will be implications for curriculum planning and more emphasis may have to be given to developing and implementing a planned pastoral curriculum, to support learners in making sense of their learning and the challenges they are likely to face.

It was a founder member of the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE), Michael Marland, who first introduced the concept of a pastoral curriculum being needed in schools. For Marland the Pastoral Curriculum was part of the whole school curriculum.

“It was that part of the curriculum which more or less dealt with the development of the whole person”. (Les Bell and Peter Maher)

An approach to pastoral care that focuses on the needs of the whole person will become relevant in schools after the pandemic.

“For those who saw pastoral care as an emergency first aid system to deal with discipline problems Marland’s’ introduction of the term pastoral curriculum is certainly a quantum leap”. (Les Bell and Peter Maher)

A quantum leap will be required from pastoral leaders to respond to all the pastoral needs of young people during and after the pandemic and a planned proactive approach will be required that resists the temptation to not a react to problems as they arise.

The current crisis should encourage pastoral leaders to reflect on the role of the form tutor. Effective tutoring can help young people to make sense of their learning and support them in coping with the challenges that they face.

In the uncertain times that schools find themselves in, which is likely to continue for some time, they should reinvest in form tutors and value the important contribution that they can make.

“Where problems arise the form tutor is well placed to offer help and encouragement”.
(Les Bell and Peter Maher)

There has in the past been some tension from some staff about their role as a form tutor. Pastoral leaders need to make it clear how tutors can have a positive impact on achievement and make sure that the most important resource for this process the staff engaged in the role have the training and support they need to be effective.

Finding time for academic mentoring, could be a positive investment for pastoral leaders to identify gaps in students understanding and barriers to their achievement.

This could be one example of a positive outcome from the crisis that pastoral leaders can use to improve future pastoral support for learners in schools.

Phil Jones
National Chair
National Association for Pastoral Care (NAPCE)
June 2020

Bell, P and Maher, P. 1986 “Leading a Pastoral Team” Blackwell Marland, M. 1980 “The Department for Education. 2020 “Guidance for Secondary School Provision from June 15th, 2020”, GOV.UK website
Department for Education. 2020 “Pastoral Care in the Curriculum. How schools can provide additional emotional and pastoral support for pupils when they return to school following the coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak”, GOV.UK website
Pastoral Curriculum”.in Best, R. Ribbins, P. and Jarvis, C. (eds) 1980,
Perspectives on Pastoral Care, Heinemann
Sobel, D. 2019 “Leading on Pastoral Care”, Bloomsbury
University of Glasgow School of Education. 2020 “Supporting Resilient Learning in the Face of Covid-19”, University of Glasgow School of Education Website

ARTICLE: Bridging the Lockdown Learning Gap for Children (Part 1) by NAPCE Officer Noel Purdy

Dr Noel Purdy is a member of the NAPCE National Executive Committee and Director of the Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement at Stranmillis University College, Belfast.

This article, written by Mr Purdy, is the first in a two-part series focusing on Bridging the Lockdown Learning Gap, following the societal social distancing restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last Friday afternoon (5th June 2020) 369 educators from across Northern Ireland took part in a ground-breaking
webinar on the theme of ‘Charting the Way: Conversations on education in NI ahead of September 2020’.

It was by far the largest and most relevant-to-practice webinar on which I have ever had the privilege of being a panellist, and is a remarkable testament to the innovation of the @Blended_NI team who organised it in less than a week. In its sheer scale, it was also a clear sign of the thirst among dedicated classroom teachers for practical guidance, support and reassurance as they face the challenge of an educational earthquake (revolutions are planned after all) that no one could have predicted even six months ago.

The webinar discussion was wide-ranging but one of the key issues to emerge was the likelihood of a ‘lockdown learning gap’ arising from the current pandemic crisis during which the vast majority of children are not being educated at school.

In response I would suggest that there are three key questions to consider: (1) Is there a lockdown learning gap? (2) What does the lockdown learning gap look like? and (3) What steps can we take to bridge the lockdown learning gap?  In the first instalment of this blog I will address questions 1 and 2.  In the second instalment I will consider question 3.


The short answer to this is that we can’t know yet for sure, as we don’t have reliable evidence from large-scale assessment tests to tell us the long-term impact. That will doubtless come over the coming months.

In the meantime, we can however look at likely indicators from a number of recent studies: for instance, the pre-lockdown Ofcom survey revealed that online access is mediated by family background and that children in working class homes are less likely than those in middle class homes to access the internet via either a tablet (59% vs. 72%) or a mobile phone (49% vs. 62%); the early-lockdown Sutton Trust Report in April confirmed what I had predicted in an earlier blog that the lockdown has exacerbated existing inequalities in our education system with children from poorer backgrounds having less access to online resources and parental support, spending less time learning, and submitting less work than their less disadvantaged peers and those attending private schools. A month later, a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that children from better-off families are spending 30% more time on home learning each week (amounting to more than two additional school weeks in total, assuming schools re-open here in late August/September) and have more access to individualised online resources than those from poorer families.

On 20 May our own Stranmillis report on Home-Schooling in Northern Ireland during the COVID-19 Crisisreported on a survey of over 2000 parents and found wide disparities in parental experiences of home-schooling, often mediated by their level of education and employment status.

Experiences ranged from, on the one hand, confident, highly educated parents relishing the opportunity to spend more time learning alongside their children, safely cocooned from the pandemic threat, to, on the other hand, highly stressed working parents struggling to access resources, lacking confidence in their own abilities and battling to motivate their children to engage in learning during the ‘nightmare’ of lockdown.

Based on these robust research reports, it is clear that there will undoubtedly be a lockdown learning gap. I would further suggest that the gap is likely to be wider than the traditional loss of learning experienced during the summer months, because unlike the normal two-month summer vacation, there will not have been such widely divergent experiences between children who have effectively been home-tutored by degree-educated parents and children who, through no fault of their own, have engaged in little or no learning at all.


report published earlier this month by the Education Endowment Foundation has attempted to predict the impact of school closures on the attainment gap, based on a rapid evidence assessment of a total of 11 previous studies of learning loss carried out since 1995.

The EEF predictions suggest that the current closures will widen the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers by a median estimate of 36% (with a range between 11% and 75%). The authors acknowledge the limitations of their review which (inevitably) is based on studies of summer learning gaps rather than the experiences of previous current pandemic crises. The report notes that sustained effort will be required over the coming months to help disadvantaged pupils catch up.

There has been much general discussion of learning needs but little specific about the particular learning needs of pupils on their return to school. Consequently, I have developed a typology of learning needs (see below), beginning with the need for teachers to address pre-lockdown learning which may be lost (and needs reteaching) or rusty (and needs refreshing) as might be expected after a lengthy break from traditional schooling of 5 months.

This experience is similar to what might normally be expected following the summer vacation, and teachers are already skilled at recapping and refreshing knowledge and skills in September before moving on to new learning material.


While this might represent relatively familiar ground for teachers, the particular features of lockdown learning loss are different: based on the studies cited above, we can also expect many children to have missedlockdown learning where there was little or no engagement at all with learning activities since March (through no fault of their own) and where catch-up teaching is required; shaky lockdown learning (requiring consolidation) where lockdown learning has been partial, incomplete or insecure, the result of a range of possible factors including poor or miscomprehension, lack of pupil motivation, inadequate parental support, and limited opportunities for individualised teaching and/or feedback; and minimal lockdown learning (needing extension) where learning has been rudimentary, covering minimum content but falling short of the wealth of differentiated extension activities that would normally have been provided in school.

Typology of Lockdown Learning Needs

The fundamental consequence of this is that additional time and investment will undoubtedly be required to identify and address the various learning needs of individual pupils over the coming months. So let’s not imagine for a moment that this is going to be ‘business as usual’ in August/September.  With the prospect of widely divergent attainment levels following more than three months of widely divergent home learning experiences, teachers will need to draw on all of their professional expertise to meet the challenges ahead.

So, I would argue that there will undoubtedly be a lockdown learning gap come August/September, and that it will be wider than what might be experienced after the customary two-month summer vacation.

Furthermore, I would contend that the nature of the learning deficit will be more varied and differentiated than ever before, including lost, rusty, missed, shaky and minimal learning, all of which need to be addressed by professional, dedicated and compassionate teachers. In the second instalment of this blog, I will consider the third and most significant key question: what steps can we take to bridge the lockdown learning gap?

JOURNAL: Stan Tucker, the Editor of NAPCE’s globally renowned publication shares an excerpt from a recent edition – “Lost time


Lost Time

It has been almost impossible to miss the debate over the recent on/off opening up of  schools in the United Kingdom.

Debates about social distancing, classroom size and children’s safety are clearly very important.

Yet for all children and young people their return to school will be marked by a significant loss of educational time.

For me, one of the major concerns now revolves around the impact that ‘lockdown’ will have on the personal, social and emotional development of the young.

I have noted with interest the protestations of the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, concerning  the potentially uneven and detrimental impact of Covid-19 on particular children and their families.

I have written in the recent past a short piece, for this newsletter, about homeless children and their families living in hotel accommodation; of course I still remain concerned about the educational, social and health outcomes for this group of young people.

However, the passage of time has greatly increased the likelihood of more young people experiencing significant problems on their return to school.

For some, loss of friends; contact with teachers; a daily routine; school meals and the prospect of forthcoming public examinations and SATs is likely have a very real impact.

What about significant  transition points between, for example, primary into secondary, or secondary into FE (an issue we have debated extensively in our journal Pastoral Care in Education)?

All of this points to the need for the development of a robust and resourced strategic plan for when children and young people return to school. Children will need space to talk about and reflect on their experiences.

Catch up programmes of study may well be required. Some may need targeted interventions. Whatever the need, a failure to think carefully and plan appropriately will only serve to cause further damage to the lives of many children and young people.

Stan Tucker
Emeritus Professor of Education
Editor of Pastoral Care in Education

AWARDS: First NAPCE Awards ceremony moved online because of Covid-19 Social Distancing measures 


The first National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education Awards presentation event is now to take place online later this year.

Despite plans for a winners ceremony in Birmingham, organisers of the NAPCE Awards 2020 have confirmed that the September celebration is now happening virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The online presentation is expected to take place on September 24th at 7pm.

Finalists for the inaugural Awards were announced in May but, sadly, the winners will no longer be invited to a physical event because of potential risks and restrictions around social distancing.

It is fully expected that an in-person event will be held in 2021 and beyond.

Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE, said: “The recent announcement that schools will not return fully until September at the earliest led us thinking very carefully about the planned presentation event for the Awards which was due to take place in Birmingham on September 26th.“We now think that this means that it is unlikely that school staff will be in a position to travel for an event in September with the current Government advice that all off site activities should not take place.

“We feel that it would not be responsible for NAPCE, as an respected organisation, to go ahead with a physical event in 2020 and we are now putting all of our efforts into organising a quality virtual event to announce the winner of the 2020 awards.”

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.

NAPCE & UK Pastoral Chat launch National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education

NAPCE is delighted to have joined forces with UK Pastoral Chat to launch an exciting new awards scheme for pastoral care providers in the education sector.

It was announced at our conference in May that NAPCE had plans to promote good practice in pastoral support and recognise the work that is being done to develop good quality pastoral care, through the launch of the NAPCE Awards.

Since May we have been in discussions with UK Pastoral Chat, who have a similar interest in recognising good practice in pastoral support, about working in partnership for an awards programme.

So, we thought it made perfect sense for both organisations to work together in partnership to create the first ever National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education.

Both NAPCE and UK Pastoral Chat will have their own categories for the awards and will manage their own process for entry, finalists and selection of awards winners.  Of course, working in partnership means the Awards instantly becomes a much bigger event, with a bigger audience and we’re going to be combining our energies and expertise to organise an awards programme that significantly raises the profile of pastoral care in the educational world.

The closing date for all categories (both NAPCE and UK Pastoral Chat awards) will be Monday 2nd March, 2020.

The finalists of the inaugural National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education will be invited to attend a ceremony in 2020 and we’ll be announcing details of the event shortly.

NAPCE is inviting nominations in the following categories;

Pastoral School of the Year
Pastoral Team of the Year
Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year
Pastoral Leader of the Year
Pastoral Development of the Year
Raising Awareness about Pastoral Care
Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care

You can enter the NAPCE categories here

Nominations are encouraged for awards in different categories from schools and educational establishments and you DO NOT need to currently be a member of NAPCE to take part.

UK Pastoral Chat is inviting nominations for awards in the following categories;

Head of Year (Including Head of 6thForm)
Head of House/Head of Boarding
Nurse/ Counsellor
Pastoral Support Staff (including Learning Mentor)
Tutor/Classroom teacher
Unsung Hero
Guidance teacher
DSL/CP Co-ordinator

You can enter the UK Pastoral Chat awards categories here

The Awards will be an excellent opportunity to share good practice in pastoral care and through the social media and websites of both organisations to raise awareness of where pastoral support is making a real difference in the educational experience of young people.

The awards will encourage new initiatives and ideas in pastoral care and will recognise the contributions being made to developing policy and practice in pastoral support.

This is an opportunity to recognise the impact the work of pastoral staff is having on the achievement and well being of young people.

The decisions about prize winners in each category will be made by a panel of invited professionals who work in pastoral care.

There will be a prize of £100.00 for the school or institution for the winners of each category and individuals will also be recognised for their achievements.

The criteria for the NAPCE awards 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

•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

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

Nominations for the NAPCE Awards are welcome from member schools and institutions and from schools and institutions that are not currently members of NAPCE

You can also enter the awards by e-mail to NAPCE Base at

The Awards Programme and partnership with UK Pastoral Chat is an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of Pastoral Care and give hard working pastoral staff and schools with positive approaches to supporting learners the recognition that they deserve.

Good luck!
Phil Jones
National Chair
National Association for Pastoral Care in Education

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