I was recently invited by the Independent Schools Inspectorate to visit another school in the South West as a member of a nine strong team of inspectors. It is always a privilege to ‘look under the bonnet’ of other schools in the HMC group and to talk to students about school life and the care they receive. I look forward to reading the final report of the fine school that I visited.
This caused me to re-read extracts from the last full inspection report Truro School received from the ISI. In 2012 they commented that:
“The quality of pupils’ personal development is excellent. Pupils of all ages develop a genuine concern for others, a strong sense of right and wrong, and an appreciation of leadership and team-building qualities. Their increasing maturity is skilfully underpinned by excellent pastoral care. The school maintains a strong sense of community and service.”
Since then we have continued to build on our strengths in this area.
I recently explained some of our key pastoral processes to this year’s Parents Communication Working Group and they encouraged me to shout about it a bit more, so here goes. In short, a high quality of pastoral care is central to our ethos; it underpins everything that we do and, alongside high quality teaching and learning, is what ensures the success and personal development of the children in our care, so they flourish academically and socially. It is certainly true that there is no shortage of opinion amongst our student body but we encourage our pupils to respect the varied attitude and beliefs of others whilst developing as individuals.
In our newly developed PSHEE programme we promote our values of tolerance and understanding and reinforce the importance we place on self-respect and consideration towards others. Our regular Chapel and Headmaster’s assemblies are occasions where students reflect on matters of faith and belief and are invited to respond to issues of social justice. We advise how to cope with the ups and downs of teenage life but there are times when these ups and downs require some intervention and our team of pastoral carers is on hand to provide the help that is needed.
Form Tutors and Heads of Year discuss pastoral issues on a regular basis. Most problems are easily dealt with at this level. However, every Friday morning I meet with the Deputy Head (Pastoral), Heads of Year, House Staff, Medical Centre, Head of Learning Support and Chaplain to share concerns and information on individual students. In addition, the Senior Pastoral team consisting of Deputy Head Pastoral (and Designated Safeguarding Lead), Chaplain, Head of Boarding and Medical team meet weekly to spend time reviewing support for whose requiring additional care.
There are a range of individuals who pupils can and do approach if they have concerns and their planner provides them with the names of others who can provide support and counsel at a difficult time for them:
The role of the Form Tutor is not just one of reacting to problems that arise during the course of the year. They will also be proactively encouraging their tutees to involve themselves in the co-curricular life of the school. In the case of busier pupils who may have multiple commitments across departments, they will also help to monitor their academic study and any pressures and conflicting commitments.
At some point in the next 18 months we can look forward to another ISI inspection that will judge us on the achievements and personal development of our students. Our aim is that they report once again that it is excellent.