Why should everyone care about the pastoral wellbeing of our pupils? Put simply, the mood and emotions of pupils impact on every aspect of their education. It is an obvious point, but an important one to make: if pupils develop poor psychological health it has a significant impact on their learning, relationships, behaviour and overall performance at school.
Rather than the more traditional system of having one tutor per 25 or more tutees, Bradfield offers something much more tailored to the individual.
Mental health, like physical health, is something that changes in an individual over time and is affected by circumstances and the ability to make healthy choices. Here at Bradfield we recognise that all young people need strong foundations to benefit fully from all the opportunities available to them. As a result, we are committed to developing an ethos that fosters emotional awareness. We aim to support those who are facing mental health issues, whether long- or short-term, serious or more moderate.
To this end, we continue to develop strategies and initiatives that will continue to keep Bradfield College at the forefront of outstanding pastoral care. Our teaching staff are an integral part of the pupils’ lives and thanks to our close links with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), all but a handful of our newest staff members have received MHFA training.
We also have a strong counselling system and a responsive Medical Centre. Pupils can self-refer and the counselling team will make an appointment for them to have a private conversation. In-House listeners offer something slightly different. They are there to provide pupils with an experienced listening ear and a mature sounding board.
Rather than the more traditional system of having one tutor for a large group of tutees, Bradfield offers something much more tailored to the individual, providing a chance for pupils and tutors to meet at least once a week individually for a catch up or to explore something more specific.
The personal development of pupils is excellent due to the outstanding support and care provided throughout the college community. This is especially marked in the excellent boarding provision and house system.2015 ISI INSPECTION REPORT
Our pupils really value that interaction, being able to discuss their academic work or co-curricular involvement with someone who over the course of the year, really gets to know them as a whole person. It provides not just a time for pupils to talk about what they are worried about, but perhaps more significantly a chance to laugh about something that has tickled them, or celebrate their successes – big and small – with a member of staff who “gets” them and wants them to get the most out of Bradfield too.
There will always be certain values that we want to inculcate within our pupils such as tolerance, compassion, the importance of good listening and being there for each other. Our Wellbeing curriculum aims to promote pupils’ personal and social development as well as their health and wellbeing.
It helps to give them the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to lead confident, healthy and independent lives and to become responsible members of society. It aims to help them understand how they are developing personally and socially, and tackles many of the moral, social and cultural issues that are part of growing up.
It is critical that our decisions are informed by the pupil body, especially when it comes to the dangers of social media. They have a much firmer grasp of this technology than many of us do and therefore it is vital that we get pupils involved in that debate.
Our pupils really value […] being able to discuss their academic work or co-curricular involvement with someone who over the course of the year, really gets to know them as a whole person.
The Digital Leaders Programme aims to empower young people to champion digital citizenship and creativity within their schools and to educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online. This youth leadership programme offers pupils structured training and ongoing support, helping us work towards an outstanding whole school community approach to online safety.
The challenge now is to make sure that Bradfield continues to be innovative and proactive, looking beyond staff training and awareness to embed a positive approach to wellbeing in every part of our school culture. That begins by putting pupils and staff at the very heart of our ‘talking school’ ethos. It is in this field that Bradfield has been ahead of the curve for some time.
The pastoral work we do here feeds into everything. It is not an “add on” to the work done in classrooms. It does not stop at the end of the school day. Outstanding pastoral care is about building emotional literacy and developing emotional regulation; these are key life skills that enhance not only psychological wellbeing but also relationships and personal growth. It is constantly evolving and we must stay responsive and at the cutting edge, making sure we do not get complacent. This is what makes Bradfield such a great place to be.