10 Top Tips For Pastoral Leaders (Part 1)

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Phil Naylor

Phil is a Deputy Headteacher , a Science SLE and a Local Authority Primary School Governor. Phil is the host of the podcast Naylor's Natter.
Read more about Phil Naylor

How can you raise the profile of the pastoral leader in your school?

Pastoral care matters hugely; it always has and always will.

Pastoral care has endured something of a mixed time in the education cycle over the past 20 years. Thankfully it is experiencing a huge resurgence. With issues left over from the pandemic and dealing with a cost of living crisis in our society, schools have become much more than the deliverers of high-quality education.

Here is part 1 of my top tips for your pastoral leader, gleaned from my many conversations with over 160 educators on Naylor’s Natter. Many also feature in my book.

Recommendation 1

Avoid sacrificing form time for subject lesson time

  1. Form time is an essential part of the school day: it eases the transition between home and school, supports safeguarding and provides an opportunity for community cohesion and team building.
  2. Do not sacrifice form time for more time spent in subject lessons.
  3. Use form time as a way for tutors to get to know students and to:
  • provide a consistent start to the day
  • support with uniform and equipment
  • promote good attendance
  • note pastoral issues relating to individual students and resolve these or inform colleagues.

Recommendation 2

Value your pastoral leaders

  1. With the resurgence of pastoral care as we continue to deal with the effects of the last few years, schools will need to reassess staffing and resources. More recognition of staff choosing this area of expertise will result in sustained and sustainable care in the years to come.
  2.  Avoid measuring the importance of pastoral staff purely in terms of progress. Think about the overall impact they have on the lives of young people.
  3. Make sure all pastoral staff, including non-teaching members of staff, know they have a wide range of opportunities for professional growth.

Recommendation 3

Safeguarding is everyone’s business

  1. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and the culture of ‘it could happen here,’ must permeate every educational establishment.
  2. Safeguarding needs resourcing, recognising and prioritising. More staff should be given training in this area. Also, leaders should rotate and experience the role of the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) at some point in their leadership journey.

Teachers should also spend time with the DSL to fully understand both the importance of the role and the lives of the community they serve.

Recommendation 4

Get to know your pupils and where they are at

  1. There is a strong evidence base that teacher–pupil relationships are important for good behaviour. Furthermore, these relationships can directly influence a pupil’s attainment and effort.
  2. A pragmatic approach to developing these relationships is essential. Try selecting one pupil you think it would be beneficial to get to know and focus on building that relationship for two minutes every day over the course of two weeks.
  3. It is vital to have awareness of influences that may affect children’s behaviour, including adverse childhood experiences (ACE), bullying, mental health and other complex factors. Seek specialist help in meeting the needs of these children if required.

Recommendation 5

Actively teach behaviour alongside addressing behaviour needs

  1. Teach learning behaviours. Being proactive in your approach to get in front of behaviour will reduce the need to be reactive and manage misbehaviour. There will always be a need for both proactive and reactive strategies and approaches.
  2. Calm and consistent approaches can improve challenging behaviours and reduce pupil disengagement.
  3. Effective implementation with consistent approaches is vital for the success of any behaviour strategy.

All of these areas are relatively small in isolation but if you add them together the positive impact will be clearly visible

Here are the next 5 pastoral leader ideas.

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