Pastoral care is a crucial element of any school; it influences the attitude of the students and teachers and focusses on wellbeing and personal and academic success. According to a private school in London, “pastoral care is a co-pillar with academic development”. Teachers and other staff have a commitment to their students both as and individuals and as a community, through their pastoral care policies and procedures, to ensure they experience an environment that supports their physical, emotional, spiritual and, of course, intellectual development. Many people might believe that a teacher’s only responsibility is to their education, but actually, an unhappy or distressed child will not be able to perform to the best of their abilities and therefore, it is the schools duty to ensure any personal problems are dealt with as soon as they arise.
Children should be aware of how many adults they truly have around them each and every day to care for and encourage them, from their Form Tutor to their Head of Year. It is not just their parents that want to see them happy and successful. That feeling of support enables them to succeed academically, but also build strong relationships with their peers and teachers. Ideally, pastoral care will deal with any bullying situations promptly and effectively to guarantee the safety and happiness of all students.
One could even argue that there are several parallels between parenting and pastoral care, as both involve keeping children safe and ensuring they are happy and successful in their own way. However, pastoral care is perhaps far more complicated because it involves overseeing a whole school, not just a few children. Parents should bear in mind that if anything significant happens in their child’s home life, like a new baby, a death in the family, moving house, marriage, divorce etc, then the school should be made aware so that they can monitor the child and ensure they are coping well. In other words, it’s important for parents and teachers to work together to support the wellbeing of the child in question and reach their shared goal.
Every school will have a different approach when it comes to their pastoral care, but the end result should be the same. Every child should leave the school having reached their full potential academically, but also having learnt how to instinctively care for themselves and for others and generally provide a positive contribution to society.