How students are feeling affects every part of their school day – their mood, their performance, their health and their ability to make friends. This is why encouraging the mental wellbeing of pupils is paramount. After all, children spend five days a week in this environment. Pastoral care is there to make sure that this happens, ensuring each child is nurtured and supported within the school environment.
What is pastoral care?
Pastoral care is the name given to a school’s commitment to improving and developing the mental wellbeing of each student. This is achieved by creating a school environment that is inclusive, friendly and student-focused. Plans and provisions are put in place which consider and include the physical, social, intellectual and emotional needs of every child so that we cater for everyone’s wellbeing.
Benefits of pastoral care in schools
Improving and nurturing pupils’ mental wellbeing has many benefits. How we feel in ourselves always spills over into other areas of our life. When pupils feel positive, supported and looked after, often this has a positive effect on their academic progress and overall health too. This also begins to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to be in charge of their own wellbeing as they grow up.
Improved academic focus
When students have a positive attitude, this naturally affects how they perform academically. They will be more likely to go into lessons focussed and willing to learn, which fosters a go-getter attitude. This helps to boost engagement in class and their academic progress. By contrast, when students are feeling low or upset, this can be very distracting for them and lead to reduced focus and progress.
Sense of community
Pupils spend the majority of their time at school, which means that schools have a large window of opportunity to affect pupils’ mental wellbeing in a positive way as they grow up and mature.
By making pastoral care a fundamental part of the school culture, students throughout the school will feel a sense belonging and community during their time there. Feeling part of a wider community and group helps develop our own identity, values and behaviours, as well as preventing them from feeling isolated or alienated by creating a supported social network.
By creating a support network for pupils to rely on as they learn, pastoral care in schools can help to develop confidence and emotional resilience. By creating a positive, open and supportive community, pupils feel able to explore who they are, seek guidance when they want it, learn to take risks and set and achieve both academic and extracurricular goals. All this contributes to children developing strong emotional resilience and a positive self-image, both of which contribute to their overall mental wellbeing now and later on in life.
A helping hand
We all go through periods of difficulty in life, but sometimes these rough times are experienced at a young age when we do not yet have the experience to deal with them alone. Pastoral care can be extremely helpful for students when they are going through difficulties, providing opportunities to express themselves and guide them through these times.
How to integrate pastoral care?
According to best practice, high-quality pastoral care is integrated throughout a school culture. It is not as simple as having a pastoral care office on site – it is a school-wide commitment.
The benefits of successful pastoral care are achieved through quality teaching and relationships between students, teachers, form tutors and provision of resources which enable pupils to find additional support outside of the classroom and occasionally away from their day-to-day teachers. This way, pastoral care can focus on the whole student –– their social, academic, physical and emotional welfare –– because how we feel in one area of our life will always affect the others. A whole-school approach is needed to actively provide a consistent and comprehensive culture of pastoral care.
At Cranmore School, the emotional wellbeing and progress of our students is at the forefront of our approach to education. Through activities such as weekly resilience workshops, counsellor sessions and sessions on fitness awareness and mindfulness, our students build a healthy level of self-esteem that equips them to face any challenges that come their way.