We are all pastoral leaders

When leading pastoral care in a school you need to allow all those working with children to explore and develop their own practice, much like you would do for teaching and learning. We are all professionals and responsible for the pastoral care for those we work with, and nobody likes being told they have to do things in a certain way.

To start our pastoral meeting today, myself and my colleague Remi Moynihan (Assistant Principal – Head of Upper School & 6th Form) decided to ask staff to discuss an article written by the author of a fantastic book I am currently reading.
You can read the article yourself here.

‘A School Without Sanctions’ by Steven Baker & Mick Simpson explores how Steven & Mick have changed the way that their special school approaches behaviour through non-confrontational methods based on compassion, wellbeing and rewards. I wanted to give the pastoral team in our school the opportunity to explore the article to find if they felt any of the strategies could be used to better support our pupils. The article focusses on vulnerable children and I felt that this was an area that we could develop.

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Below is a summary of what our fantastic Progress Leaders (Heads of Year) and Form Tutors have decided that they would like to try with our pupils. They used the article as the basis for their conversations and then added their own ideas. The strategies they have identified show that they are a caring team of individuals who really want the best for our pupils. I am sure that by encouraging them to explore and discuss these strategies, the outcomes for our pupils will be far more effective.

  • Thinking time is important.
  • When having a conversation about behaviour take time to ask how they are and how they’ve been. 
  • At the end of the lesson reflect on the positives. Draw a line under the negatives and end positively.
  • Get to know the pupils and have a better understanding of the underlying reasons for their behaviour.
  • Use restorative language (what happened? What were you thinking? What needs to happen now?) – non-judgemental
  • Consequential choices show that you are being fair. 
  • Catching them being good. How can we do this online? – engaging parents to support in catching them being good at home?
  • Kill it with kindness.
  • It is removing the punishment, not the consequence. The consequence is what happens and is not necessarily a bad thing = restorative justice. 
  • 6th form = treating them in a better manner, as young adults. Older pupils can feel disrespected when told off. Sometimes they do need to be told though.
  • Consistency is the key.
  • Think about the time of day and your own mood. Take a breath and don’t allow impatience or frustration to cloud your judgement.

In summary, top down leadership is needed sometimes, but in developing the culture of a school you need everyone to be involved and have their own voice in the process. I have seen this first hand today and cannot wait to see what the impact will be.

Published by Matthew Domine

Secondary School Deputy Principal. Pastoral leader and music teacher.

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