In 1999 the World Health Organisation stated that health promoting schools display in everything they do or say, support for and commitment to enhancing the social, emotional, physical and moral wellbeing of all members of their school community. This was expressed in overlapping components: curriculum teaching and learning; partnerships and services; school organisation, ethos and environment.
Pastoral Care at Port School provides a framework within which students are in a safe, supportive and caring environment and:
- supported to meet learning expectations
- challenged to become active learners
- safe to express and acknowledge things they find difficult
- provided with structure to test and build their resilience
An ancient model it supports young people in their pain, loss, anxiety, triumphs, joy and victories. The model is based on a fair consistent and respectful approach where students know what is expected of them and can build their coping abilities in this space.
The PC Experience
PC groups work together with the PC teacher to decide how sessions will be structured.
The 4 sessions per week are programmed by the PC teacher with the aim of providing time to:
- bring the group together
- follow up on individual progress
- discuss issues
- share group interests and activities
- provide a non-threatening space for students unable to express ideas in Parliament or class groups to speak freely
After an initial interview with the Principal, the student is introduced to their Pastoral Care teacher. The groups are carefully selected with new enrolments going into a group depending on its:
- current size
- composition of groups within the PC
- year levels of students
- pre-existing relationships
The new student will be given a starting date and the Pastoral Care teacher will build the student’s understanding of Port School’s expectations; the Code of Conduct and specific guidance. The PC teacher will work with the student to:
- set initial goals relevant to their experience, skills, social, emotional and mental health
- understand the timetable
- establish check in times for the start of school which may be at the end of every day or every couple of days depending on the student’s ability to cope independently
- become familiar with the probationary period which is a time new students get to understand and respond to Port’s expectations
During probation the PC teacher will speak to other staff about student progress and will report back to the student to involve them in being responsible for their own behaviour which is a very new concept for most of these extremely disengaged youth.
Any problems or issues during probation will be responded to by the PC teacher contacting parents/caregivers/guardians to keep them in the loop of progress and build support in the home for what is required at school. Both student and program are supported in this way.
Monitoring Academic Progress
The Pastoral Care teacher will:
- work as academic coach and adviser about academic progress
- look at previous study by the student to establish a baseline
- follow up suggestions on IEP’s and from Kids Talk
- schedule interviews
- work through challenges and issues brought by the PC members
- ensure that communication with other teachers is maintained to monitor each student’s progress
- explore and clarify situations and devise strategies to boost student achievement and meet behavioural goals
Social and Emotional Learning
Facilitating social and emotional learning is the pivotal role of the PC. In this group or with the PC teacher the students can share feelings about their growth and development and tackle areas of difficulty. This may look as different for all of the PC members as is needed given the cohort of extreme dislocation and disengagement they come from.
In PC sessions the aim is to build essential respect and listening. Through shared experiences and activities individuals can find a sense of belonging in a group. The PC teacher will be a counsellor and someone to speak in confidence to about anything.
The class teacher initially deals with student problems but if no resolution is achieved then the PC teacher will be informed as soon as possible, even before Kids Talk. The PC teacher then talks with
the student about solutions. It is then the PC teacher responsibility to follow up with parent/caregiver/guardian to arrange contact or an interview.
All staff work with the PC teachers to keep them informed of particular needs of individual students so that strategies can be put in place for them and all staff are working in a consistent way. The PC teachers will feedback to staff about whether strategies are managing behaviour and encouraging achievement.
Parents will approach the PC teacher with:
- notes regarding absences, appointments or excursions
- messages to the school regarding the student
- course or subject issues or problems
- feedback about student progress in regard to general and specific goals
- requests for interviews to set goals and contracts for behavioural change
- contact about time-outs or suspension
The PC teachers keep accurate records related to:
- courses taken each term
- information for course teachers
- parent communication
- confidential notes about interviews, telephone calls, etc
- behaviour incidents
- report writing
- work experience placement and follow up