Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Make Sure That Every Pupil Knows You Care

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Make Sure That Every Pupil Knows You Care

Article excerpt

Pastoral care is of the utmost importance in special schools, where pupils - and their teachers - face unique challenges

no school is immune from pastoral issues; in fact, the best schools know that good pastoral care is crucial to success. These schools don't ask the old chestnut: "Are you going down the academic (sharp suit, Excel ninja, headteacher before 30) or pastoral (knitted jumper, retirement as a head of year who reminded everyone of their favourite uncle) route?". They know that pastoral care is everyone's business.

All phases and sectors bring their own challenges - our chair of governors, Father Tim Novis, is the senior chaplain at Wellington College and devotes a lot of his time to supporting students with all the issues that come with being a teenager living away from home. But special schools have more frequent and more overt pastoral issues than most, and as a teacher in a special school you have to be aware of some key flash points:

Academic progress

It is common for us to support children with self-esteem difficulties that arise because of delayed acquisition of skills - many children express daily frustrations over learning to read, for example - or the inability to do something they could do the day before. This is why we make a big deal about successes that many would regard as tiny. The effort a 15-year-old has put into learning number bonds to 10 is worth shouting about.

Personal care

Incomplete independence in areas of self-care or for issues that persist beyond toddler years can be difficult for young people to cope with. Support for toileting, menstruation and administering medication must aim towards the young person achieving independence without compromising the dignity or safety of either the young person or the staff member. This is no mean feat - a colleague had her arm broken by a student who kicked her while he was being changed as she and a colleague tried to achieve this balancing act. …

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