In August 2022, Ms Catherine Adler, Senior Coordinator for Pastoral Care for Secondary School, conducted an exclusive session for OWIS families. In her presentation, she explained what high-quality pastoral care means here at OWIS.
Here are highlights from her presentation.
The Pastoral Care Set-Up in Secondary School at OWIS
Spearheaded by Ms Adler, the Pastoral Care Team for Secondary School at OWIS comprises Mr Mark Renie, the Head of School, Dr Tracy Ghomashchian, the Head of Secondary, Ms Preeti Bhati, the Head of Additional Needs, Mr Simon Walker, IB DP University Guidance Counsellor, Mr Ryan Ong, who manages house competitions, Ms Pooja Bajaj, who is in charge of fostering the student council and developing student voice, and Mr Lingeswaran Gunasekaran, the CCA Coordinator.
(Early Childhood and Primary School have a similar Pastoral Care set-up with dedicated school leaders.)
Besides all these stakeholders, every single teacher, form tutor and support staff member at the school is committed to our students’ welfare.
Our Commitment to Pastoral Care for Secondary School Students
Every family at OWIS has a story. We care about everyone’s stories. We want to know each child and what is important to them.
Our Pastoral Care Programme reflects this passion through the following ways:
- We believe pastoral care is about building positive relationships. Students need to feel that they can trust their peers, their teachers and their school leaders and they need to feel connected.
- The most important aspect of the Pastoral Care Programme at OWIS is the relationships the teachers and the staff form with children so that they feel safe and they feel heard.
- We model what we expect from your children. We treat each other with respect, we are open, we smile, we stop and say hello because those instances are learnings in themselves.
- We believe in restorative practices. When something goes wrong, we are not out to give consequences. We look to open up the conversation. Both sides come together and have a workgroup in an authentic way. We help them to work out the next step. This is truly a life skill, because children at school may sometimes have a disagreement or have a falling out with friends. Through restorative practices, they learn how to deal with conflict but in a meaningful, productive way.
- We have a clear anti-bullying policy. We do not tolerate bullying and that is why we have a Designated Safeguarding Lead to whom students can speak to about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Essential agreements are a student-driven initiative, where they spend time with their form tutors fleshing out how they want their classroom to be governed. Over the years, we have seen in this process that students want the same things teachers do – to respect their environment, have clear expectations, and learn.
- We recognise every child is an individual, academically and pastorally. We believe in supporting individual needs. Our job is to make sure every child has access to the curriculum, whether that is through scaffolding, English as an Additional Language support for language acquisition, or specific strategies to help individual needs.
Students in Secondary School do have some academic pressure, particularly in the Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma Programme grades, and we need to support them in every aspect of their school lives. We want to push them toward achieving their highest aspirations and teach them how to overcome obstacles.
The Importance of Tutor Time in the School Day
The form tutor for each Secondary grade has an important role to play in our Pastoral Care Programme. They are the face your child sees every day, and it is their responsibility to monitor and know all aspects of your child.
Tutor time takes place every day and has a dedicated slot in the time-table. During this time, students engage in activities that not only help them establish connections with their form tutor and classmates, but also get them in a positive frame of mind. Here are some of the activities that take place during tutor time:
- Literacy – We are keen for students to advance in their literacy skills, so our tutors come up with activities related to reading and writing for their grade level. We also embed activities related to numeracy and quick thinking, just to get the brain cells working in the morning.
- Current affairs – We source articles that are age appropriate and the topics range from Science and Technology to more community-centric topics. Students are challenged to answer questions to help them better understand global issues. Through this focus on current affairs, students have an idea of what’s going on in the world. Not only does this help them to understand their curriculum, but it also helps them to develop a global perspective and have authentic and empathetic conversations with others in their class.
- Mindfulness – We allocate time to introduce and nurture this skill in our students, so that they learn how to be present in the moment and be aware of their actions. We help them to understand the benefits of feeling gratitude and being able to reflect in a positive manner on different aspects of their day.
To conclude, we want your children to succeed. Through our high-quality Pastoral Care Programme in Secondary School, we are giving them the tools to achieve their goals.