Are we getting pastoral care wrong?

One of the DSLs said: “But surely you only use it very rarely? It’s only for safeguarding issues not bullying or verbally aggressive situations.”This sparked an interesting debate among the group about when pastoral issues become safeguarding concerns and how we can best educate our staff about this threshold.

But the threshold of concern will vary, of course, and everyone has different ideas about what is concerning, so staff need to be guided by training and Inset.

I would always prefer staff to over-refer than to feel they are the ones who have to “be there” for their students, however. This doesn’t mean that I step in and take over when an issue arises. In fact, I have found using that safeguarding software has enabled me to pass tasks back and support staff, guiding them to take on more constructive and supportive roles.

Each of these moments serves as CPD for them, as they learn how to address issues and become more aware of where the threshold for a safeguarding concern sits.

Documenting pastoral incidents in the same way as you would do a safeguarding issue can make a huge difference, particularly in terms of making you more reflective. When recording these, try asking deeper questions that consider the bigger picture. For example:
  • If it’s an aggressive incident, could this be copied behaviour. If so, from whom? Could this be a response to peer-on-peer abuse, or domestic abuse? 
  • Why is this student angry? Can they control this? If they don’t learn to manage their behaviour, how might this escalate