“Independent schools – and, if you will permit me, Anglican independent schools in particular – pride themselves in their provision of pastoral care/wellbeing. A quick search of independent school websites reveals wellbeing/pastoral care as a common theme running from site to site, perhaps even more pervasive than academics or even sport. Developing Pastoral Care Structures and Staff, Anglican Schools Conference.
Wellbeing is not merely a part of what we do at St Columba, it is an essential part of who we are. It is an essential part of our core business. It is policy and practices fully integrated throughout the teaching and learning and structural organisation of the School to effectively meet the personal, spiritual, social, physical and academic wellbeing needs of students and staff.
As a school, we know that wellbeing and academic progress are linked. The physical, emotional, cognitive and social elements of a person’s life cannot realistically be treated in isolation. What happens in one domain will affect what happens in one or more of the others.
“Teachers that demonstrate qualities such as empathy, warmth and encouragement are linked to improved student achievement as well as attitudes. … Other factors that positively correlate with academic achievement include students’ belief in their own abilities (self-efficacy), subjective wellbeing and self-motivation.” McCrindle Research.
Being so important, we know that we must constantly evolve our student and staff Wellbeing practices, so that they meet the needs of our learning community and support our academic endeavours. As a result, in 2020 we are undertaking a review process that will :
- Acknowledge that wellbeing policies and practices are an inherent part of our everyday life at school and ensure that they are embedded in our plans and actions;
- Examine our current practices and policies to ensure that they, like the school, are evolving to meet the challenges we face;
- Use available data to ensure that our review process is founded on fact rather than assumption;
- Ensure that our wellbeing practices are fully aligned with the School’s vision and values;
- Enable us to decide what needs to be stopped, started and kept. Determining what is currently working well, what’s not working well, what’s missing and what’s promising;
- Clarify roles and responsibilities so that everybody in the school knows where their responsibility lies in the area of Wellbeing;
- Help us set Wellbeing goals and ensure that the school is providing sufficient capacity and resources to achieve our goals.
We will do this so that we are able to continue to:
- provide a caring community in a Christian context where each student feels valued and is able to make a worthwhile contribution;
- nurture a sense of belonging to the school community and pride in the school;
- encourage understanding and appreciation of individual differences;
- promote self-discipline and social responsibility;
- prepare students for the challenges of society;
- foster quality relationships between staff and students;
- establish strong, supportive relationships between parents and the school.
What we will not accept: “For many schools, pastoral care/wellbeing occurs in the few minutes before and after classes when teachers mark the roll and read out notices. There may be a lesson or two during the week designated to Personal Development which is presented and received with little enthusiasm by teachers and students alike. Student Welfare Officers usually spend all their time on students at risk. Most students will enjoy little or no benefit from their school’s often trumpeted pastoral care program.”
Why pastoral care is only a token commitment to student wellbeing, Greg Cudmore.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School