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Skippers Continues to Provide Excellent Pastoral Care Online

Posted: 12th May 2020

Skippers Continues to Provide Excellent Pastoral Care Online

There has been an incredible response from our school community to an extraordinary situation. Imaginative lessons have meant students are continuing to engage with their own learning, displaying inquisitiveness, creativity and resilience as they collaborate with their teachers and peers in both new and familiar ways.

However, we have also seen that learning from home for an extended period of time adds considerable stress and anxiety to students’ lives. Some may have already been struggling pastorally or academically. Others have begun to struggle with the new conditions. As such, supporting students is now more important than ever.

Pastoral care is, arguably, the most important provision in a school. After all, students can’t learn well and they certainly can’t flourish if their pastoral needs are not met. But how do we provide that in a pandemic, when schools are closed?

It's not easy. One of the most important ways pastoral care takes place is by seeing students and sensing that something isn't quite right. As teachers, we know when students are behaving in a way that is different from usual or when they say something unsettling. Picking these signs up while working remotely is not easy, though.

Our pastoral teams have regularly reviewed and discussed our students of concern, and agreed appropriate support. We recognised from the start that these conversations are so important to continue in our new circumstances. We have also made it our focus to understand each student’s individual circumstances, mindset and needs. In this way, we can continue to put the necessary support in place. 

We have continued to use our existing behaviour management systems, including house points and behaviour logs. For example, we have asked our teachers to record all instances where there isn't any onlinelearning submitted for any particular lesson. This has allowed our pastoral teams to quickly identify students who are struggling and provide appropriate, timely support. Additionally, all tutors maintain daily contact with their tutees, to check-in with how they are doing and identify any issues.

Teachers continue to have a duty to safeguard students from harm and report any concerns they have. A general rule of thumb is that whatever is applied to in-school learning still applies online. 

We have provided guidance to support our teachers and ensure a safer environment for all during live google meet conversations, and we have communicated clear expectations of online behaviour to our students.

We have dedicated elements of our timetable provision to specific times where pupils are engaged in activities that are creative and have embraced the outdoors and nature which are beneficial to the mental and physical well being of pupils. We have witnessed some truly remarkable creative pieces of work as a result and our pupils are displaying an increased level of reliance and independence. 

Our year 7 pupils have been engaging with students from Vietnam during this  lockdown period and comparing experiences of remote schooling and life in each other's countries. It's been wonderful to see our year 7 full of enthusiasm in making introductory videos and sharing stories with pupils over 6000 miles away. I am keen to further create links for our pupils to engage in sharing learning experiences with pupils from other parts of the world and am in the process of setting up ‘penpal’ opportunities with pupils from both Kenya and China. 

I am extremely proud of the incredible work of the whole of the Skippers community over the past month. It has been humbling to witness everyone's dedication to ensure continuity of student learning at such short notice and the care and attention they have all provided to each other is heartwarming. Never more have we all appreciated the importance of a strong community. 

We’re all in this together, ultimately, and as long our students know we still care, and they are able to let us know if they need us, we’ll have done a great job in the face of extreme challenges.

David Leggett

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