What is pastoral care?
Pastoral care is the provision schools makes to ensure that all the children are both physically and emotionally well. It strives to establish a positive learning climate in which children are well integrated and develop at their maximum potential emotionally, physically, psychologically and academically. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy to put into place and then adapt it to the size and structure of the school, age of the children, and the community.
What does it involve?
Every person who comes in contact with your child needs to have their police record verified. It must be clean and demonstrate they are prepared to work with children. A child protection policy must be in place and ready to be used, should an unfortunate situation arise. A child protection strategy scheme (and the name of the officer) should be made available to all staff and parents, so each and every one knows who to contact in case of an incident.
2–Social and health protection lessons
Children need to be taught how to behave within the school premises as well as outside the school gates. Pastoral care also teaches children how to protect themselves from tempting strangers, Internet safety, hygiene measures, and road safety. This should include sexual responsibility and health related issues.
What else can we add here? Make sure you ask the school not only whether it has one in place, but how it is made known to the students. Some schools run ‘Anti-bullying Weeks’ to encourage awareness, discussion and provide solutions.
How many after-school activities are the children in the school allowed to join? There should be a balance between playing and learning and parents should be made aware of that. A school I used to work for promoted a ‘Well-being Week’ when everyone from staff to children to parents were encouraged to take some me-time, meditate, do sports, take it slowly for a few days and learn about stress management techniques, whether before exams or an important meeting. We were all given vouchers to spas, gyms, or weekend getaways to encourage walking in nature.
5–Safety of the premises
There must be a clear procedure to follow in case of accidents. Students need to know who to go to or contact. There should be video cameras on and around premises and parents should know who has access to these videos. Pool safety, gym equipment safety, ergonomic classroom furniture which promotes correct sitting position as well as movement and energises and invites students to study are all important.
What else would you add to the list? If you’ve got experience in pastoral care, we’d love to hear from you.