Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

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Quiet Helpers
Preadolescent = energy and altruism

(May, 1995, for Wesley College  'Working Party on Pastoral Care')

Pastoral care is the overseeing and guarding of the students' emotional, physical, social and educational well-being insofar as it relates to the students' life at Wesley.  It is aimed at optimising the value of the students' education at the school and the fullness of their lives thereafter.  The 23rd Psalm is a useful guide.

Whilst the Head of Junior School bears ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of the students in the Junior School, the key adults who carry out this care are the Homeroom Teachers.  They are not, nor should they be, the sole carers, but they are the focus of the care provided for each student in their Homeroom by all the adults and young people in the Wesley community.

Homeroom Teachers teach their Homerooms for significant periods of time scaled according to the progressive needs of the growing pre-adolescent for less singular, albeit just as caring, supervision. 

Assistant Homeroom Teachers help the Homeroom Teachers with their pastoral duties.  As far as possible, these teachers also teach the Homerooms.

Homerooms meet daily for approximately ten minutes before going to their first lesson.  Additionally, one and a half periods per cycle are designated as Homeroom Periods. 

In Years Five and Six, Homerooms eat lunch together for five minutes at the end of Period Four and five minutes at the beginning of lunchtime.  Also in Years Five and Six, Homeroom Teachers and/or Assistants are scheduled very predominantly to teach their Homerooms for the first and last period each day.

As far as possible, in Year Seven, Homeroom Teachers are expected to supervise the dismissal of their Homerooms each day, or to arrange for it to be done.  When timetabling, however, the timetabler looks for opportunities in Year Seven to replicate the Years Five and Six patterns for the beginnings and endings of days. 

Homeroom Teachers (and occasionally Assistant Homeroom Teachers) accompany their Homerooms to Assemblies, Chapels and annual camps.

All these measures enable Homeroom Teachers and their Assistants to come to know the students in their Homerooms very well.

Another useful strategy in this process is the involvement of the Homeroom Teachers and their Assistants in the co-curricular life of the school.  Although this involvement is not linked to Homeroom pastoral care duties exclusively, there are many occasions where teachers interrelate with members of their Homerooms and their families.

Whilst Homeroom Teachers are paramount in the daily care of the students, there are also formalised connections by which this care can be provided jointly. 

The Head of Junior School, the Chaplain, colleagues and the school's counsellors and other members of the Student Services staff are freely available  for consultation and assistance.  They, too, have connections (e.g., the Head of Campus, the Principal, external professionals) who can assist. 

The Record Book and the telephone provide daily and immediate contact with parents which can be instigated by the Homeroom Teacher or the parent. 

Additionally, formal parent-teacher interviews are conducted early in the year in order to consult regarding the students' initial progress.  Beyond these, Homeroom Teachers and parents are encouraged to arrange ad hoc consultations whenever the need arises. 

Formal written reports, including a "Homeroom Teacher's Report", are forwarded to parents in June and December.  These reports are written by the students' teachers and are overseen by the Homeroom and Assistant Homeroom Teachers, Head of Junior School and Head or Deputy Head of Campus.  A written response is invited from parents. 

Added to these opportunities for teacher-parent contact, functions such as the annual Junior School Chapel Service, Homeroom Dinner and new parents' Cocktail Party are aimed at enhancing empathy between Homeroom Teachers and the families of the students in their Homerooms.

The Head of Junior School, the Head of Campus and the Deputy Head of Campus interview all new students with a view to their whole well-being when they arrive at the school and all information is directed to the Head of Junior School.  Before each year commences, the Head of Junior School also consults with the Heads of the Preparatory and Middle Schools to receive (and give) similar information regarding current students.

With all this information, the Head of Junior School annually forms the Homerooms based on the known and perceived compatabilities between the students and between the students and their Homeroom Teacher.  The Homerooms are formed on a pastoral care base with information passed on to the Homeroom Teacher. 

Finally, pastoral care pervades the entire educational experience at Wesley and as such the school's infra-structure should take constant account of this fundamental imperative.

Related links
Quiet Helpers
Preadolescent = energy and altruism
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