Exploration of Pastoral Care & Academic support

This piece will explore the meaning, importance and value of academic and pastoral care systems and networks (A&PC) that are woven into the fabric of many educational institutions in Great Britain. I will explain why a continual growth of individual understanding and trust between two parties is so vital. The student being progressively open about needs not only as a learner but as an individual be it counsellors, student union groups, careers advice – the teacher developing an equally progressive and rich understanding of how they can fulfil their learners’ need as these potential referrals and suggestions of support grow. In most cases, this is remedied by a department referred to as “student services” – the source of help for a plethora of potential needs for students.

This work is for reference only, please note it has been through the TurnItIn system, therefore you cannot plagarise my work. All work is in British English.

Within the creative arts department, I have so far experienced more open plan settings compared to traditional classrooms, something that I prefer and encourage.  This opens up the opportunity to spend time one on one with students whilst in classes. This means there is a good prospect for the students and their teacher to build a supportive and meaningful rapport outside more formal, scheduled tutorial times. The A&PC, alongside external conduits for support such as the NHS and their counsellor networks (that cover all conditions and thought processing issues such as OCD, PTSD, etc) are ideally available to all students at all times. However, it may not be used effectively when it is most needed. If the student-teacher rapport is not well enough established, there can be a delay between an effective intervention that might impede the students’ progress and an effective resolution being implemented.

Support could come too late if there is not enough regular contact or targeted conversations about issues priorly divulged during the application process by any given course applicant. This is something that can be mitigated and in turn maintained via one to one contact, however one must take care not to be over familiar or too authoritarian. Employing either of these opposing demeanors could lead towards alienation or overly expectant students (Steward, 1988 p64).

Sometimes students will display challenging behaviour outside of the classroom; with security and reception staff, with librarians and caterers, and often with learning support staff. In these situations, there should be a clear and openly stated policy that protects staff – and it must also be ensured that it preserves students from developing an ‘exclusion from education’ temperament.

In 1998, Paul Martinez conducted a milestone study named ‘9000 voices’. That study showed that students look for certain qualities in their teachers, such as ‘Someone who will listen to me’ and ‘Someone who’ll help when I have a problem’, amongst others. This highlights the role of a teacher in not only to creating a learning environment, but being accessible and helpful for students outside of the classrooms. This includes a general knowledge of how to conduct sessions on induction, careers advice and support, study skills (including furthering in numeracy and literacy and computing skills) and financial guidance and where possible offer support (Petty, 2014). Induction sessions at the start of courses should be designed to familiarise new and remind existing students that they can access this support network as and when they need to, and that the tutor is looking for ways in which this network can support them. This is critical in order for students to feel included and welcomed.

The internal A&PC network will occasionally come across challenges that are not within their powers to help with to the full extent needed, for example serious issues at a learners home, in which case the social services would be informed and brought in on the learners behalf. There is a moral and ethical obligation in these cases to exercise duty of care and to contact external agencies when learner’s issues could be deemed to be of major concern. It may be an immediate matter for the police (for more serious issues), the social care authorities for issues at home, or disability support agencies such as ‘Scope’ for those who need extra support outside of the classroom. In all instances, external or internal, any divulged information would be treated with complete confidence; any records of meetings and action taken will be securely stored and only reviewed by sanctioned and applicable persons. This information will in turn be of use and passed on to relevant services outside- the police in some cases, medical services on others, for example. On this note students have to be reminded that it isn’t always possible for the details of their situation to be shared exclusively with the person (staff member) they find they find most comfortable to first contact. However, the person first approached must be prepared to administer the same impartial and supportive understanding approach (Middleton, 2015); issues they express may need further exploration by specialist organizations. This protects the student in terms of data protection and in turn those supporting them.

The level of support that staff can offer has a fair correlation with retention rates and course completion for students; Martinez’s report (p. 60-71) shows this quite clearly – the highest rates of retention are seen in courses where students have more than 95% satisfaction with the A&PC support when asked about it. This shows a key value of A&PC networks to academic institutions. When staff work collaboratively with students, this often contributes to a more relaxed and productive learning environment.

[901 words after amendments for referral]