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Meet our Head of Pastoral

 

 
We asked Bryanston's Head of Pastoral, Dr Preetpal Bachra, about the meaning of pastoral care, the form it takes at Bryanston and what he has planned for the future around the School.
 

What do we mean when we talk about pastoral care? 

It is a concept that is difficult to pin down because it is a process, i.e. it is something that needs to be constantly worked on and constantly adjusted. However, at its core, pastoral care focuses on the well-being of each child. This means we must have systems, structures, people and activities that provide an opportunity for each child to evolve and thrive. Ultimately, the goal is to empower children to understand and appreciate themselves and their intrinsic value, live happy and fulfilling lives and possess a sense of optimism and belief in themselves.

If we provide pastoral care then we are effectively providing ways in which a pupil's well-being improves. Most obviously this can be through the tutorial system or the house system. Both should provide a child with a sense that someone is interested in their lives, sharing their successes and guiding them through their obstacles. Teachers are also pastoralists in supporting progress and identifying ways in which a pupil can advance by achieving academic confidence. Less well known, however, is that every member of staff is a pastoralist and should recognise, praise or raise awareness of each pupil's progression.

If we understand all the things that can contribute to well-being, the pastoral care is apparent in the chaplaincy, the dining hall/café (food), the sports centre and sports programme (activity), arts and drama (expression), Pioneering (contribution), outdoor adventure (challenge), peer mentoring/stripe system (support), medical centre (health), extra-curricular provision (explore) and charities (outreach). 

What do you do in your role as Head of Pastoral? 

I work as part of the key pastoral team of Peter Hardy (Second Master) and Claire Miller (Head of Boarding) and together we identify pupils that need support and usually, in the first instance, either Claire or I will engage with them. We review policy and we also seek to implement initiatives and training to 'up-skill' staff. I also work as a first point of contact for prospective parents with pastoral questions/concerns and work alongside Housemasters and Housemistresses in dealing with specific issues, whether that is individual or group-based behaviour.

Which aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
 

Unquestionably working with pupils to improve their outcomes. There is rarely a set path to progression and helping a pupil understand what is holding them back and what they can achieve is a puzzle that looks different for each pupil.

Are there any new pastoral care initiatives that you are currently working on?
 

We are currently working on establishing a progressive and innovative PSRE (PSHE) programme that focuses more on mental health and well-being for September 2020. Better mental health means better decision-making. This project is part of a much broader focus on health and well-being that we have called 20/20 Vision. This aims to have completed 20 projects by the end of 2020 that all support well-being and are as diverse as yoga, mountain biking, reading, orchards, and films of pupils' individual stories.

We also have a number of initiatives to raise awareness of factors that impact on our sense of well-being. The next scheme for the spring term is called 'The Big Sleep' and pupils will be engaged in analysing ways in which they can improve their sleep.