VIEWS & OPINION Empowering pastoral

excellence Comment by ROSE HARDY, Headmistress at Habs Girls’ School (Haberdashers’ Aske’s)

There has never been a more crucial time for schools to raise the bar in the provision of pastoral care. Equipping students with a multitude of practical insight, along with access to new connections, ideas and best practice approaches that are fit for purpose in today’s evolving world, is essential. But achieving pastoral excellence is really all

about empowering young people in a way that inspires and energises their outlook on the world

they live in. We need to be working to remove fear of failure and that means building on strength of character, resilience and confidence to prepare children for the future challenges that lie ahead. In our quest to keep children safe, the danger is that we are unintentionally raising them in captivity, sheltering them from the reality and experiences of real life. Pastoral care has an important role to play in identifying and tackling

the hard-hitting issues that affect young people today and in recognising and embracing those on-point topics that impact our lives, such as mental wellness and the importance of teaching happiness. Much of the pastoral support we provide in school today begins at

home. As schools we are all too aware that the most effective strategies for achieving successful outcomes, whether academic or pastorally led, almost always involve a united joint home-school approach. Close-knit

relationships between schools, parents and their families couldn’t be more important today. Supporting young people with their mental health also continues to be

an evolving expectation of schools who are now expected to fill the gap that CAMHS cannot cover, even though the large majority of the teaching staff in the industry are not adequately trained in the area of mental illness. But where we can provide greater support from a pastoral perspective is in identifying the potential issues children face today, spotting the signs early on and finding ways to react and respond within the best interests of our students. The evolution of pastoral care has led to many schools creating facilities

dedicated to wellbeing. Many now have fully trained counsellors on site and are continually working with teaching and support staff to better equip them for the challenges that lie ahead. Yet the topics surrounding the provision of pastoral care are vast and ever changing and that can be extremely daunting for schools. One thing is that is consistent however, is the need to talk, empower and support young people. This means we need to widen the channels of communication to make pastoral care more accessible. Gaining a better understanding of potential problems from the outset

is key to managing pastoral care in an informed and balanced way. Whether we are looking at different ways of supporting bereaved children, identifying and understanding unhealthy coping strategies in young people, helping the young to recognise toxic friendships, supporting digital wellbeing or looking for signs that children are struggling with difficult experiences or emotions – schools have a duty to take pastoral care to the next level. Achieving pastoral excellence also means teaching young people to be

kinder to themselves and to recognise that self-care is not selfish. This is probably something we are often guilty of as adults, but it’s a positive and empowering message that we need to be demonstrating to our students, if we expect them to follow our lead.

Why a financial and entrepreneurial education can help to close the

disadvantage gap Comment by SHARON DAVIES, CEO of Young Enterprise

British society is becoming more and more divided; in fact, the Social Mobility Commission recently reported that social mobility has remained virtually stagnant since 2014. With this increasingly divided backdrop, we need to do everything we can to make sure that the next generation of young people have equal chances to succeed. Equality of opportunity begins with

education. But throughout school this gap can widen, depending on how accessible opportunities are made. The worrying state of this opportunity gap

was highlighted by the Who’s Left 2019 report last month. The report showed that the true extent of the disadvantage gap in schools is being obscured by ‘off-rolling’, the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll before a census or inspection. For pupils studying for their GCSEs, anyone removed from school rolls

before January in Year 11 is not counted in their school’s statistics, hiding the reality of many students who lack the support systems to continue education.


And the problem is getting worse. This year’s report found that

24,600 students disappeared from school rolls in 2019, compared with 22,000 the year before. Schools are increasingly responding to the pressure to perform on academics, resulting in situations where some of our most vulnerable young people are behind left behind and not getting a fair shot at preparing for the world of work. We all have a responsibility to give the next generation of business

leaders, coders, engineers or nurses the confidence and skills they need to succeed in their chosen career. Smart and talented young people come from a diverse range of backgrounds. Schools, government, parents, charities and the private sector must play a part in helping to prepare our next generation for the future. But it’s not just about hard academic skills. By giving young people a

well-rounded education, rich in extra-curricular activities that boosts their confidence, we are opening doors and exposing them to opportunities related to the world of work that they may not have known existed. Enterprise education can have a hugely positive effect on young

people’s lives. Some of the young people that start with Young Enterprise are so unsure of themselves that they struggle to speak up in a classroom situation. Upon completion of the programme, many of them have found the confidence to speak publicly and truly find their voice. Financial education is also incredibly important for young people. As

contactless and online payments make it easier to spend irresponsibly, we need to give young people the tools to gain skills, knowledge and confidence in money matters. To truly tackle the disadvantage gap, we must ensure that we give

young people from every background the skills they need to thrive. The Who’s Left report has shown us the extent of the problem – now it’s time to act and help all our young people realise their potential. No one organisation can address inequalities of access alone.

Partnerships based on a shared purpose of helping to equip young people to support themselves, their families and their communities will achieve so much more. Our investment in them is an investment in our society’s future. They are our future.

January 2020

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