6 Replies to “Are there areas of the School Ministry, Pastoral Care and student support systems in schools that you would like to see addressed next week?”

  1. Hi all, firstly as a non religion teacher can I say, I am really enjoying the course and getting some great ideas that i can bring back to my school. So thank you for that. I am however a member of the Pastoral Care team in my school for the last 8 years and I am also a Year Head. So I thought I would share some tips that work in our school. Firstly we are the ‘Pastoral Care Team’ and that comprises of the Deputy Principal, Year Head, School Chaplain, Home School Liaison, NBSS support, the school completion officer and the Guidance teacher. We are timetabled to meet once a week, which really supports us in getting together (as schools are so busy). The specific Year Head of each group in first, second and third year have a time table allocation too. In Senior cycle the meetings are informal (not timetabled). We also compile a target list of a few students to discuss at the meeting, students who have been referred for Pastoral Care via the Year Head. The addition of the School Chaplain to the team is new, but working really well. We also have an agenda for each meeting, minutes and an annual review at the end of the year, what went well and what could be better next year. Finally we take it in turn to bring treats or cakes!!!! Which is nice. Perhaps most schools are doing these things, but I thought I would share what works well for us. Plus I would love to hear what other schools are doing. Thanks for reading Emma

    1. Emma, delighted that you are enjoying the course and thanks for posting this. I like the composition of your team, the allocation of time for it to do its work and its focus. The treats is also a nice idea.
      It will be interesting to see how others operate their pastoral systems.

  2. I’d also like to express how much i am enjoying the course .Last tuesday night was excellent. I particularly liked the virtual calming room. This would be a very useful resources especially at the moment when stress levels are particularly high among 6th years. We more or less have the same kind of pastoral system that was described above . During lockdown we have kept in touch with our pastoral students through e mail .

    1. Delighted that you are enjoying the course, Rachel.
      Nice idea to keep in touch with particular students, especially those on your Care Team’s list, during lockdown.

  3. I am really enjoying the course so far. Hard to believe we are more than halfway through it. I found the three speakers last week particularly insightful. One of the great opportunities covid has brought, is the ability to collaborate on an online platform through zoom, to connect with colleagues all over Ireland and indeed the UK with Tom Murray last week. We do not have a Chaplain on the staff in our school, so it was very interesting to get a flavor of Aisling’s role in her school. Dermot’s pilgrimage journey resources with groups especially in transition phases, 1st Year and TY will bring a new dimension to activities I will carry out with some of these groups in the future. The role Tom Murray engages in as Youth Development Officer with Edmund Rice, UK seems like a very rewarding and inspiring area to work in. I look forward to joining some of his Friday morning reflections.

    Our pastoral care/student support team is quite similar to what Emma has described above. It is comprised of the Deputy Principal, one RE Teacher, 1st Year Head and I as Guidance Counsellor. We invite other years heads to join part of some of the meetings on a rotational basis to discuss students in their respective groups, which they have concerns about. We operate a traffic light (green, amber, red) system of alerting other staff members to an issue with a student, depending on the severity of it , without the need to disclose great detail. The NCSE continuum of support (school support for a few, school support for some and school support for all) is used for steering our meetings also. Meetings take place once per week and are operating remotely at the present time. We are linking in with students and their parents in some cases, through meetings on Microsoft teams. While it is not as effective as meeting them face to face, it is proving to be successful in staying connected with some of our most vulnerable students while operating remotely.
    One other dimension to our student support system is a “Check and Connect” system with our 6th Year group. 6th year students are paired with teachers who agree to mentor students in their final year. They are matched to a teacher who they may have a common interest with or may aspire to a career in the subject area of the teacher. Teachers are assigned between 2-3 students each. I coordinate the the organisation of this system in the school. This is the second year of operation and is especially advantageous in lockdown when we do not see the students every day. Issues get raised to the the correct personnel to deal with faster, the system runs efficiently and problems can often be resolved quite quickly. It is also a very useful support for 6th Year students at the present time when such uncertainty prevails around the structure of the Leaving Cert exams, to have an extra listening ear of somebody they know and trust. We hope to expand this to include 5th Years in the process next academic year.

    1. Great to hear of your positive experiences of the course.
      Your pastoral care system seems great and very well organised and the rotation of year heads at these meetings seems like sensible use of limited time. The traffic lights system is also sensible and sensitive.
      The mentoring of students in 6th Year is also an interesting idea. A committee of principals, deputies and teachers in ER schools is currently exploring ‘equality of opportunity in education’ and is interested in hearing about the innovative ideas in our schools that enhance opportunities for students.

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