All parents want their daughters to be happy, successful, well-rounded individuals. It goes without saying that excellent pastoral care is a vital ingredient in this. At Oxford High School, we work tirelessly to equip our girls with the secure sense of self and the confidence to face challenges with a smile and a deep breath. Behind every girl lies the discreet and personalised support she may never need – but can always rely on.
Our pastoral team, including Heads of Year, tutors and dedicated support staff, has a detailed understanding of each girl in the school and the progress that she is making in all aspects of her development. That means we are there to celebrate her successes, support her when times are tough, but also just be there for a friendly chat on an ordinary day – maybe to ask how her new pet is, how the match went, or how the chocolate brownies turned out!
Sir Ian McKellen visits the school, at the invitation of alumna Charlotte Harris (2018), to discuss his history with Stonewall and express his support for the LGBTQ community at OHS.
Girls touch base with their form tutors during the day, so there is plenty of opportunity for this sort of light touch conversation which enables regular check-ins on student welfare and fosters supportive relationships. This personalised approach also facilitates prompt intervention when it’s needed.
Our most effective work with young people and their families combines both academic and pastoral strands – it’s impossible to separate them fully. We believe students flourish most when the care is tailored to her specific strengths, needs and interests. This includes an awareness of how we empower students with opportunities to cultivate leadership skills, resolve conflict, overcome obstacles and even fail so that, when it comes time to leave school, students feel confident, excited and prepared for their next steps.
Of course, schools are only one aspect of a child’s environment, and for school initiatives to have maximum impact, a strong “triangular” student-staff-parent relationship, with ongoing open communication, is crucial. Our tutors phone parents in the first few weeks of the academic year and the dialogue continues with a programme of events for parents, providing information and opportunity for conversations, alongside regular one-to-one tutor-student mentoring.
This triangular principle of pastoral care has also driven some of our most successful initiatives, including those relating to Equality, Unhealthy Perfectionism, the Positive programme, Digital Awareness and even a Digital Detox. A communal sense of fun and “being in it together” cannot be underestimated!