Pastoral care in schools is increasingly becoming more important: from issues left over from the pandemic, to dealing with the current cost of living crisis, it is important that we value schools as much more than just a institution that educates students. When pastoral care is implemented correctly, it can lead to great outcomes such as: improving attendance within schools, tackling racism and inequality, teaching respect for self and others, promoting tolerance, enhancing academic achievements, and so much more.
Safeguarding is the main responsibility for anyone who is working in a school, or with children and young people. All staff, regardless of their role or the area they are teaching, must always ensure they are mindful that ‘it could happen here’. In addition to this, schools should ensure they have the correct resources when it comes to dealing with safeguarding including the training that is given to members of staff. It is always good to give staff the opportunity to spend time with and work alongside the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) as this allows other members of staff to fully understand the job role and the importance the role for the students within the school.
A simple behaviour management approach is not enough to deal with the complex emotional needs of many of our pupils. We need to make sure that get to know our students and take a genuine interest in their lives and what they are going through. A simple, ‘hello, how’s your day going?’ can make all the difference to a student’s day. It is especially important to make this effort with the students who are the most hard to reach, as they are the ones who tend to have the most traumatic and chaotic lives. Giving time, grace and understanding to these children can go a long way to alleviate some of the fears and anxieties that they hold with them.
Form Time, or Registration Time in primary, can be the perfect place to connect with your students and build those key relationships with them. Integrating your PSHE sessions into this time can allow you to create a supportive environment where students feel as though their wellbeing is truly being cared for. Make the effort to have discussions with your class, both as a whole and on a 1:1 basis where possible, about how they are feeling and what is going on in their lives. How are they getting on with their learning? What are their relationships like with their peers? How are things at home? By taking this time, we can not only create those strong relationships with our students whilst also potentially heading off potential behavioural issues that could be bubbling up due to circumstances in their lives.
Taking the time to actively and visibly exercise self-care and empathy is vital. When we’re teaching our students how to multiply fractions, write complex sentences or analyse a text, we never fail to provide a clear model to them. We should do the same when it comes to taking care of ourselves and others. Furthermore, making sure that you, and you team, are in a good headspace will inevitably improve your teaching, and the day-to-day experiences of your students: if you are operating at a high-level of stress at all times then this will inevitably impact your teaching as well as how you manage even low-level behaviour issues.
Work as a team. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and that you are all working from the same playbook. Having a consistent approach to the way in which you operate- from managing behaviour, and supporting the wellbeing and progress of students to managing your own life-work balance and the approach you all take to teaching and learning- means that your are not only providing consistency and predictability for your students, but you are also providing it for yourself. When we know what to expect, and can operate within a safe and supportive environment, our mental health and stress levels will inevitably improve.