Pastoral Care, Chaplain and Senior School Counsellor
A great benefit of being a small school is that each pupil is known and valued within a caring, stimulating and disciplined environment.
The happy, family friendly nature of our school community is underpinned by excellent pastoral care. Pupils, parents and staff have strong relationships of mutual understanding and a commitment to the traditional values of honesty, respect and integrity. All aspects of personal development are fostered, and pastoral care and support which is consistently acknowledged to be outstanding (ISI Report 2012) contributes greatly to personal development and achievement of potential.
The School considers the welfare and safety of its students to be of primary importance - at all times and in all areas of school life. For this reason, all teaching staff are directly involved in the pastoral care programme. Furthermore, most full-time members of staff, and many part-time members of staff, are directly involved as tutors. The Heads of Year team co-ordinates pastoral care and regular meetings are held of this and other groups to monitor and develop good practice. Parent Seminars or Information Evenings are held occasionally.
The Tutor System
Each pupil in the Preparatory School is assigned a form teacher, in the Senior School a form tutor, and this member of staff is responsible for monitoring the pupils’ progress and welfare throughout the year. It is hoped that pupils and their form teachers/tutors will develop a relationship with each other so that successes can be celebrated together and problems or concerns that arise can be resolved. Form teacher/tutor comments on reports will reflect a close understanding of how a pupil is faring.
Form/tutor groups meet twice daily at morning and afternoon registration. Morning activities include assemblies for the whole school, House groups or Year groups. Otherwise form/tutor time is time-tabled and a co-ordinated form/tutor programme is in operation. Account is also taken of the PSHE programme in the Senior School which is run by specialist staff.
The first line of communication for parents is to the form teacher/tutor or Head of Year. Please contact the School office to leave a message for them (voicemail) or request an appointment. The relevant member of staff will endeavour to return your call the same day (other commitments permitting).
Pupils will tend to stay with the same form teacher/tutor in Years 10/11 and Lower/Upper Sixth. In the Senior School Lower Years some changes may occur in composition of a group and of Tutor as deemed appropriate. Account is taken of group dynamics and any further pupil intake into the school.
In Years 7, 8 & 9 pupils are organised according to year groups and there are typically three parallel forms. Most of the class teaching is by forms in these years, although setting is implemented in Maths, English and Science.
From Year 10 pupils are no longer taught in forms as they have now chosen their own unique set of GCSE courses.
Each pupil is a member of one of three Houses (Castlemaine, Essex and Raleigh) and there are regular House and inter-House activities and competitions. A pupil transferring from the Preparatory School into the Senior School will remain in the same House, as will siblings. House competition is principally of a sporting nature; however Chess, Music, Drama and Debating currently flourish. House meetings are held fortnightly. All members of teaching staff are assigned to a House, and offer support to the Head of House with House activities.
Year Group Representatives meet termly with the Principal. A Sixth Form Council meets termly with the Head of Sixth Form.
Whole School Chaplain
To enhance our Pastoral Care provision and to work alongside the current pastoral team and Heads of Year, we have made two staff appointments. Victoria Ikwuemesi is our part time Religious Studies teacher at the Senior School and she is also our whole School Chaplain. The fundamental role of a School Chaplain is to offer pastoral and spiritual support wherever appropriate, to pupils and staff. The Chaplain can be a valuable independent listening ear, helping staff and pupils. This confidential support helps everyone, of all faiths and beliefs, to share concerns or personal issues that they may not be willing to express to others. Ms Ikwuemesi is always happy to see staff and pupils, just pop up to her office opposite the Careers Office.
Senior School Counsellor
As a school we recognize the importance of mental health, particularly during the teenage years, and therefore offer pupils the opportunity for individual counselling with a qualified counsellor. The service is led by Mrs Carolyn Varney and appointments take place on Monday morning, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Counselling can be initiated by a pupil self-referring, at the enquiry of a parent or because a member of staff has identified that it would be beneficial.
Mrs Varney offers a drop in service between 10.40 am – 11.00 am on Monday mornings (please check at Reception if she is not around), and she is also happy to be contacted by email at email@example.com or for pupils to just drop by her room to make an appointment. The counselling takes place on the first floor of the Castle in ‘The Meeting Room’, opposite the Careers Room.
In today’s culture it is not unusual during the teenage years for a period of counselling to be helpful. The counselling provides a place where the pupil can talk about whatever is on their mind and causing them stress. For example, relationships with their family or friends, worrying feelings and emotions or upsetting memories. It is now much better understood how emotional issues can impact a pupil’s ability to focus on their work and get the most out of life.
The counselling service is discrete and endeavours to minimise any impact on the pupil’s learning by working (as far as possible) around their academic timetable. The sessions last around 45 to 50 minutes to fit in with the school timetable. The counselling provides confidentiality (within safeguarding limits) between the pupil and the counsellor. This confidentiality is important to create a safe place for the pupil to talk about whatever is on their mind. The school bears the cost of up to six counselling sessions, after which the parents are asked to contribute.
For more information about the counselling service please contact Carolyn Varney.