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09 July 2020

Our unrelenting focus on pupil wellbeing

Our unrelenting focus on pupil wellbeing

“Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now.” ​Pericles

During a momentary break at school, I shared a coffee with Miss Pepona, who unbeknown to most, is a published author of A-Level textbooks on the Greek language. I asked her about Pericles' famous oration which he delivered in the aftermath of a great plague that swept much of Europe and Asia during the Peloponnesian War of 431–430 B.C.E. The parallels with the current pandemic are manifest...however, what was fascinating, and what Miss Pepona made clear is that the focus of Pericles’ speech is the idea that the wellbeing of every member of Athenian society is the number one priority.

How true that in schools, 2450 years later, wellbeing and pastoral care are, thankfully, the number one priority. Never before in our lifetime have we ever experienced anything that resembles a ‘lockdown education’ where computers have taken centre-stage as the metaphorical portals to learning and the new and varied pastoral challenges that have developed as a result.

The shift away from face to face interaction to full-time communication through a machine has been a test. Most pupils have taken to the screen with ease and the skill of the pastoral provider has been to manage the interactions, emotions and concerns of our pupils to maintain the highest standard of education.

What has worked so successfully has been the daily Form Tutor ‘touch base’ at the start and then end of the day via Google Meet video to ensure that the pupils are safe, happy and ready to attack the day’s learning in a positive frame of mind. Correspondingly, pupils have been reassured that the culture of their school is one of kindness and concern and that communication channels are open, even if the school premises have not been at all times!

In addition, completion of the school wellbeing survey before half term and the PASS survey (pupils’ attitudes to self and school) – have provided very important information relating to any potential barriers to learning for our pupils. These surveys have enabled us to create pastoral interventions to run alongside academic interventions in order to support learning and personal development but also to highlight to pupils that their welfare, mental health and wellbeing are paramount.

I have also been very pleased with how supportive staff have been in creating wellbeing folders, full of resources, on Google Classroom; these have focused on activities that can be carried out without the presence of a screen. Art projects, breathing exercises, mindful colouring and relaxing ​soundtracks from the natural world have all provided important outlets and ‘downtime’ for our pupils. ​Where possible, activities ​which foster collaboration and teamwork have also been introduced such as the Year 4 ‘Snail Mail’ letter initiative which was focused on mutual respect, pupil friendship and staying connected over the half term break.

As is always central to our provision, promoting our five core values has become even more important during this intensified digital experience. These core values are deliberately linked to the key life skills that we believe define a Hampshire School Chelsea pupil in an ever complex and competitive world. Embedding these values is essential and being resilient has never been so important which is why we celebrate observed moments of each pupil’s growth, over the academic year, against these school values on the pupil core value trackers. Again, these prove to the pupils that we care about their pastoral growth and development; also, that everyone counts and everyone is valued equally in a nurturing community environment.

To return to Pericles, it is timely and relevant that he also stated towards the end of his famous oration:

‘​What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others’.

Mr McSherry

Deputy Head

Blog

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    Our unrelenting focus on pupil wellbeing

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