The teaching profession involves so much more than just standing up in front of a class and teaching students about a specific topic. Teachers, and all staff in schools, have a much larger responsibility to nurture the development of students.
Great schools establish a comprehensive support network to give students the life skills and support they need to excel in all areas of their life, not just academically. There are many different aspects of this support network, but perhaps one area of the most importance is pastoral care.
Pastoral care is defined as an ancient model for the provision of spiritual and emotional support, yet despite it’s ‘ancient’ definition, it couldn’t be more relevant to schools today. The ‘support’ aspect of the definition is still very much a key aspect of pastoral care in schools. Pastoral care revolves around the well being of students in relation to their academic, social, and personal needs.
Pastoral Care at a Glance
Pastoral care can take multiple forms, from a safety net to support students when they struggle at school or home, to a system to help students develop key life skills, such as resilience and moral behaviour. In essence, it can be guidance, encouragement, a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to talk to when navigating the many issues that children face today.
Many schools have a Pastoral Support Plan (PSP) in place to support pupils that are having difficulties at school or home. While there’s no requirement from the Department of Education to have a plan, county councils generally publish their own guidance for local schools.
In the Gloucestershire County Council PSP Guidance report, schools are given advice on early intervention for students with adverse behaviour, such as setting up a meeting between parents, students, and school staff. The report states that the purpose of PSP is to provide support to students who aren’t responding to normal school strategies – offering students with difficulties a second chance to thrive through ongoing support.
The Great Importance of Pastoral Care
The support strategies for pastoral care vary from school to school. A large number of schools publish their own policy that demonstrates the exceptional benefits of pastoral care as a fundamental aspect of school life.
One policy from a primary school in Lea, describes the role of a pastoral leader as helping children, families, and the school, with purposes such as:
- Helping children to build confidence and improve social skills
- Improving attendance
- Helping children to realise their potential
- Enhancing communication between parents and the school
Another policy, this time from a secondary school in Endon, states a number of aims of pastoral care, including:
- Encouraging respect and responsibility
- Empowering students
- Ensuring education extends to social, emotional, physical, moral, academic, and spiritual development
- Building good relationships
Pastoral care gives support to children to help them succeed in all areas of their education and development. It also supports the government’s Every Child Matters framework, with five outcomes: achieving economic well being, staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, and making a positive contribution.
School staff demonstrate the great importance of pastoral care every single day. For the social and personal well being of students, it forms a crucial and highly important aspect of school life. Without such care provided to students in the UK, the personal and academic development of countless children would undoubtedly suffer.
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