Pastoral Care in schools is the foundation on which the physical and emotional well-being of the pupils is built. It is fundamental to the development of character, social skills and life skills of each individual. St Peter's Girls Prep School invests extensively in the emotional and social well-being of each child and their families, believing that it is difficult for meaningful learning to occur without the right balance of IQ and EQ.
“Pastoral Care in a school should always ensure that a child’s needs are at the centre of their focus”, says Cara Eggett, Director of Pastoral Care at St Peter’s Girls Prep. “When students feel supported in their overall well-being, they are more likely to experience success, and we base our Pastoral Care system on the values we espouse at St Peter’s; responsibility, resilience, compassion, honour, respect and collaboration. We aim to foster an atmosphere that is conducive for learning and promotes equal opportunities for all, whilst nurturing and supporting our girls across all facets of their lives.”
The school’s Pastoral Care team comprises the Director of Pastoral Care, school Chaplain, the school Educational Psychologist and four heads of Houses. The team is proactively supported by the school’s staff members, who are intrinsically involved in the process. The Director of Pastoral Care meets with class teachers, mentors, the Head, Deputy Heads, therapists and specialist teachers weekly to maintain awareness and assist with the development of emotional quotient (EQ) in the girls, and to monitor and support girls who may need assistance in any specific area of their lives.
The school incorporates Positive Psychology as a preventative measure, teaching achievement and accomplishment together with positive psychology-informed mental health skills to ensure well-being and mental health support in the school setting.
A restorative approach
St Peter’s Girls Prep has a zero-tolerance policy around bullying and uses a 'restorative' approach when dealing with social and emotional issues. Girls are encouraged to explore various options when faced with a particular problem and are empowered to make their own choices in dealing with a situation or incident. However, a staff member may serve as the facilitator in this process. Instead of isolating girls who do not conform, the team strives for an amicable solution through building relationships and finding common interests to ensure that all girls feel worthy and part of the school system.
“Our Grade 3s ‘buddy up’ with a Grade 7 girl in the first term, to ensure that their transition from Junior Prep to Senior Prep runs smoothly,” explains Eggett. “This not only benefits the Grade 3’s; It serves as a Leadership and Mentorship opportunity for the Grade 7 pupils at the same time. All grades have weekly Life Orientation lessons, and Grade 6 and 7 girls have a mentor with whom they meet weekly. We have found that being allocated a house, along with a house buddy and head of house, adds to the sense of belonging and a feeling of family.”
One of Ms Eggett’s personal philosophies regarding dealings within the school environment is the importance of relationships. “The relationships we form with other people are vital to our mental and emotional well-being, and even our survival", she asserts.
"At St Peter’s, we form lifelong relationships with our girls, which is quite unique among primary schools. To be able to relate one’s own life experiences when dealing with 'issues’ also makes you more ‘real’ to parents, colleagues and girls. I find that this makes people more comfortable in sharing and opening up.
Children need to know there's a trustworthy line of support for times when they find life challenging and understand that there are different people they can go to.
Being the best version of themselves.
“We aspire to every girl becoming the best version of herself as this has a direct influence on her success in all areas of her education. At St Peter's, we endeavour to assist each girl in building the confidence and independence to face and solve the challenges of life in today’s hectic world.”