Pastoral care is the policy and practices fully integrated throughout the teaching and learning process, and the structural organisation of a school to effectively meet the personal, social (well-being) and academic needs of students and staff.
The health and wellbeing of students is increasingly being attributed to school conditions, school relationships, means of fulfilment, and health status Subsequently, pastoral care has taken on a more inclusive function, one that is inextricably linked with teaching and learning, as well as the structural organisation of the school, promoting students’ personal and social development and fostering positive attitudes. This is done through: the quality of teaching and learning; in general the nature of relationships amongst students, teachers and adults other than teachers; arrangements for monitoring students’ overall progress (academic, personal and social); specific pastoral and support systems; and through extra-curricular activities and the school’s ethos.
From this perspective, pastoral care can assist students to develop high self-esteem, healthy risk-taking and goal-setting and negotiation, thus enhancing their strengths and other protective factors. This further contributes to their resiliency and develops a sense of social cohesion that together can improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Quality pastoral care focuses on the student as a whole (personal, social and academic aspects) and it engages all members of the school community as providers of pastoral care. It actively involves the community in consistent, comprehensive, multi-level activities which incorporate whole-school approaches, class or other group approaches, individual programmes (early intervention), and casework.
The following action plan provides a snapshot of the processes that we use to systematically review our pastoral care program.
- Engage and involve the community: KASA High School aims at engaging the whole school community (staff, students and parents). We strongly feel that pastoral care is effective when everyone in the school community knows, and feels secure in the knowledge and, as valued members of that community, they can participate in giving and receiving encouragement, guidance and support. Policies and programmes are designed so that opportunities are provided to the staff, students and parents to be involved in making decisions, being heard and making a contribution to the community.
- Review staff well-being: KASA High School staff’s well-being is continuously monitored to enable the assessment of the appropriateness and effectiveness of current systems, structures and services within the school. Staff well-being is enhanced through professional learning, celebrating staff strengths and achievements, policies to prevent and reduce staff stress, encouragement to collaborate with other staff, and access to professional advice. We firmly believe that if staff wellbeing is cared for, then the staff are more able to care for students’ well-being too.
- Review student well-being outcomes: According to studies students present a socially relevant and accurate depiction of the quality of pastoral care provided in their school, hence their involvement in the review process is essential to guide school improvement. The review assesses students’ well-being using the three main components of pastoral care: promotion of health and well-being; resilience, and academic care. A variety of standardised reliable and valid measures are used by our school to conduct this assessment.
- Enable staff to reflect on their own pastoral care practices: KASA High School encourages teachers and other school staff to clarify their understanding of their pastoral care role, and how their own actions and their relationships with students can enhance or harm the well-being of students. This ‘academic care’ is influenced by: the personal qualities of teachers and their relationships with students, as well as the curriculum and its ability to promote meaningful participation and positive learning experiences.
- Decide what needs to be stopped, started or kept: KASA High School staff regularly determine and re-evaluate what is currently working well, what is not working well, what is missing and from what is promising in the school is essential, especially given the limited resources for pastoral care. This decision-making may consider policies and practices related to the five key pastoral care school-level tasks: proactive and preventative pastoral care, as well as developmental pastoral teaching and learning.
- Delineate roles and responsibilities: KASA High School delineates the roles and responsibilities of all members of the school community to promote a safe and supportive environment. These need to be explicit, clearly understood by all and disseminated widely and regularly. This understanding reduces the pastoral care burden often experienced by pastoral leaders within the school, and encourages students, staff and families to recognise how much they can contribute to a positive, safe and supportive school culture.
- Communicate progress regularly: KASA High School strives to present the purpose, process, major findings and recommendations arising from a review to the staff and other members of the school community, in order to ensure ongoing engagement, support for and sustainability of pastoral care within the whole-school community.
- Provide sufficient capacity and resources: KASA High School seeks to always maintain sufficient staff capacity and resources, in order to successfully align and integrate the outcomes of a pastoral care review into the school’s vision and strategic plan.