Belfast Royal Academy - founded 1785

   

Our School – Pastoral Care

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Definition

Pastoral care is understood to be caring for pupils as whole individuals with intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs. The provision of high quality pastoral care is central to the ethos of the School.

Aims

Through our pastoral care policy we aim:

  • To create and maintain an atmosphere where pupils feel they are safe, valued, well-known, respected and happy
  • To create a harmonious and dynamic learning environment
  • To provide, when necessary, sympathetic and effective guidance and counselling, through internal and external provision
  • To raise awareness of possible risk of harm, and to encourage pupils to make safe choices
  • To strengthen links between the School, parents and the wider community
  • To prepare pupils for the challenges of adult and working life

Ethos

Central to pastoral care in the School is the building of strong relationships and the fostering of mutual respect between staff and pupils. Respect for diversity, and the valuing of all members of the School community as equals, are at the heart of the School’s ethos.

Roles & Responsibilities

The primary responsibility for the care and welfare of pupils rests with the Board of Governors. However, the School recognises that all staff share responsibility for the pastoral care of pupils and seeks to ensure that they are equipped to discharge their duties. Staff training regularly addresses pastoral care issues, and a number of members of staff are appointed to play a leading role, the most significant of whom are the Heads of Year, who deal with more serious matters of discipline and pupil welfare. The Heads of Year work closely with subject teachers, and with the Class Tutors, who see their Registration Groups every morning and who therefore have a significant pastoral role. Also central to pastoral care in the School are the Headmaster, the Pastoral Vice Principals who are also the Designated and Deputy Designated Teachers for Child Protection, the Heads of School, the Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCo), the Matron and the School Counsellor. Classroom Assistants, the Librarians, Careers staff, PE and Games staff, staff in charge of clubs and societies and canteen staff also play a significant role, as do Pupil Mentors, Pupil and School Councillors, Prefects and Registration Prefects. The school also works with external agencies where appropriate.

The Head of Year

The Head of Year plays a key role in the provision of pastoral care in the School. As far as possible, there is continuity in this role from Form 1 to Form M6. The Head of Year will place a high priority in getting to know the pupils in his or her Form, and will conduct pastoral and progress interviews at intervals. The Head of Year will generally be the first point of contact between a parent or guardian and the school.

Safeguarding & Child Protection

The school recognises its statutory duty to contribute to the safeguarding of the pupils in its care and its Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy clearly identifies the welfare of the child as being paramount. Responsibility in school for Child Protection rests with the Board of Governors but is delegated to the Designated Teacher for Child Protection, assisted by a Deputy Designated Teacher. Training in Safeguarding and Child Protection for all staff, both teaching and non-teaching, takes place every two years (with updates every year) and staff are trained to recognise signs of abuse as well as how to respond when there is a Child Protection concern. The school works in co-operation with external agencies when child abuse is suspected. The school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy includes a Code of Conduct for Staff which outlines clearly the expectations of staff regarding their contact with pupils. The School Diary includes a list of agencies addressing a range of issues, whom pupils can contact for support.

Personal Development

The School encourages pupils to take responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing and seeks to help them to develop the skills to be able to do this. Aspects of personal development are addressed throughout the curriculum, most notably in Learning for Life and Work and Religious Studies. Assemblies regularly address issues surrounding making wise life choices, and the School’s Wellbeing Committee works to raise awareness of healthy lifestyles. The school also encourages pupils to avail of some of the many extra-curricular activities on offer, through which a wide range of life skills may be developed.

Transition and Induction

Much effort is made to ensure a smooth transition to the School. All new pupils will have an initial interview, usually with a senior member of staff, and the information from this interview will be forwarded to the Head of Year, who will follow up as necessary. Information on Medical and Special Educational Needs will be forwarded to the Matron and SENCo respectively, who again will follow up as necessary. Where there are language issues for newcomer pupils, the Head of Year will liaise with the School’s English and Modern Languages Departments to establish language support. Consideration will be given to the provision of some policy documents for parents in the home language, and where necessary, the School will liaise with the Education Authority NI to provide translators for induction or progress meetings with parents. All parents of new Form 1 pupils will be invited for an induction meeting with Class Tutors within their first two months of school. A senior member of staff will take responsibility for the induction of new pupils in other Forms.

Raising a Concern

Parents are always welcome and are encouraged to contact their child’s Head of Year or a senior member of staff if they have any concerns or worries. This may be done by telephoning Reception. Parents are encouraged to share concerns about home circumstances or other matters which may affect their child’s welfare and/or academic progress. Urgent concerns will be given immediate attention and information disclosed will be treated as confidential. The relevant staff will liaise as necessary to implement and monitor provision for care. The opinions of parents and children will be valued and where appropriate action will be taken.

Related Policies

The School maintains a range of policies designed to support the pastoral care of pupils.

They are:

  • Anti-Bullying Policy
  • Anti-Cyberbullying Policy
  • Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy
  • Code of Conduct for Staff
  • Child Protection Complaints Procedure
  • Acceptable Use Policy for ICT
  • Critical Incident Policy
  • Curriculum Policy
  • Drugs Disciplinary Policy
  • E-safety Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Positive Behaviour Policy
  • Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy
  • Special Educational Needs Policy
  • Bereavement Policy
  • Safety & Security Policy
  • Management of Medical Conditions
  • School-Age Mothers Policy

Monitoring & Evaluation

The Senior Leadership Team will ensure that pastoral care is given a high priority in the School Development Plan. The pastoral Vice-Principals will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Pastoral Care Policy.