Pastoral Care Policy

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Pastoral Care is an individual and community response to Jesus’ call to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13;34).

The person of each individual human being, in his/ her material and spiritual needs, is at the heart of Christ’s teaching: this is why the promotion of the human person is the goal for all members of our Catholic School Community.

As an Edmund Rice school we are conscious of the Mission Statement that informs our policy formation;

“The partnership that characterises an Edmund Rice School promotes inclusiveness, mutual respect and a sense of inter-dependence for the development of the school and the community where personal growth is facilitated. It fosters a wide network of relationships and is deeply Christian”. (Edmund Rice Schools Trust Charter)

The Congregation for Catholic Education states:

“Pastoral Care is lived in all dimensions of Catholic School life. Fundamental to all relationships within the community of our Catholic school is a commitment to a shared vision, inclusive processes and the common good. Each member of a Catholic school is responsible for living out pastoral care in his her everyday actions. All members of our Catholic school community are challenged to commit themselves to Pastoral Care by:

  • Recognising the dignity of the human person made in the image of God.
  • contributing to a welcoming and inclusive community
  • recognising that quality relationships are pivotal
  • being compassionate and forgiving
  • fostering networks of care
  • respecting and supporting diverse family structures
  • valuing different cultural perspectives and traditions
  • providing contemporary teaching and learning
  • providing opportunities for the development of Pastoral Care
  • committed to organisational and structures that benefit individuals and the school community.

(Congregation for Catholic Education 1997).

To facilitate the implementation of the above the school supports our ethos by ensuring our processes and structures facilitate the PCP as a living vibrant entity.

Pastoral Care Framework

All members of the school community have a role to play in supporting the Policy. Individuals, groups, committees, and programmes contribute in a multi-facetted approach to the implementation of this policy
The Pastoral Care Team has a key role in supporting the implementation framework.

The Pastoral Care Team consists of:

  • the Pastoral Care Co-ordinator/Convenor
  • the Guidance Counsellor
  • HSCL Teacher
  • School Completion Person
  • Chaplin
  • Behavioural Support Personnel
  • Principal
  • Deputy Principal
  • SPHE Co-ordinator
  • other persons may be co-opted from time to time.

The Pastoral Care Team will have as its responsibilities:

  • Co-ordinating the Pastoral Programme
  • Supporting Teachers, Class Tutors and Year Heads
  • Supporting students with particular difficulties
  • Ensuring students who are entitled to resources from DES receive same
  • Promote the Pastoral Care Programme within the school community.

The crucial role played by all staff in the implementation of the Policy is recognised and affirmed as they carry out the following roles:

Pastoral Care Co- Ordinator

  • Acts as Convenor and Chairperson of the Pastoral Care Committee
  • Acts as contact person between Pastoral Care Committee and SPHE Programme teachers.
  • Acts as conduit for Pastoral Committee with Management.
  • Ensures minutes of Pastoral Committee meetings are recorded.

Principal and Deputy Principal

Re Staff

  • Provide support to Pastoral Committee, Tutors, Year Heads and all staff involved in the Pastoral Process.
  • Meet weekly with the Pastoral Team, and Year Heads.
  • Be available to staff on a one to one basis to discuss concerns re students, classes etc.
  • Ensure decisions taken at Pastoral Meetings and Year Head Meetings are acted upon.
  • Provide information and support for staff in relation to in-service courses.
  • Maintain student files with regard to issues of pastoral care.
  • Initiate and facilitate the implementation of Policies and Programmes which support the Pastoral Process.

Re Students

  • To encourage the participation of students in all aspects of school life.
  • Fostering a vibrant school spirit and building positive relationships between students and between students and staff.
  • Promote pastoral issues at Assemblies and other school events.
  • To be available, in liaison with Pastoral Care Team, to students on an individual basis.
  • To develop in conjunction with the Pastoral Care Team, measures to aid the development of the student at every level.

Re Parents

  • Provide parents of incoming students with an overview of the pastoral system in the school.
  • Encourage parents to actively support the pastoral system at Information Evenings for all Year Groups.
  • Encourage the positive involvement of parents in the life of the school.
  • Have regular contact with parents on relevant pastoral issues, e.g. bullying, substance abuse etc.
  • Ensure all aspects of the Parents Policy are implemented.

Year Head

  • Attends meetings of Year Heads once per week
  • Facilitate meetings of Class Tutors once per term
  • Facilitate meetings of Class Teachers once per term
  • Liaises with parents at parent/teacher meetings and at individual conferences with parents
  • Make contact with parents when deemed necessary
  • Reports to Year Head meetings re the above and also re- emerging problems concerning individual and class issues
  • Review academic progress of students in consultation with class teachers
  • Checks absences and punctuality

Class Tutor

  • The class Tutor takes a special interest in his/her tutor class and in the welfare of each of its individual students. For this reason, wherever possible, Class Tutors will be assigned on the basis that they have regular contact with the class group.
  • Promotes a positive spirit in the class
  • Ensures students are aware of the school’s Mission Statement, Code of Behaviour, Anti- Bullying Policy, Respect Initiative and all other Policies which contribute to a positive school environment.
  • Pays particular attention to First Year students. These students will require constant and consistent support based on the needs as outlined in various reports on the transition from Primary School to Secondary school. As a consequence First Year tutors may need to meet on a more regular basis than Tutors in other Year Groups.
  • Meets with the relevant Year Head at least once per term.
  • Takes an interest in individual students particularly students who are at risk or vulnerable.
  • Encourages students to take part in school activities.

Subject Teacher

  • Closely monitors class atmosphere and the demeanour of students.
  • Refers students to year head or Guidance Counsellor if concerned re behaviour, work ethic etc.
  • In co-operation with Management and Pastoral Care Committee fosters good manners and respect for others during class periods.
  • Actively encourages the development of values such as empathy, kindness, generosity, sincerity and integrity within the context of the classroom.

Guidance Counsellor

  • Counselling is offered on an individual or small group basis.
  • The Counsellor helps students to make decisions, solve problems, change behaviour, or effect changes in their lives.
  • Enables students to understand the process of career choice and to develop their capacities to determine and execute career decisions.
  • The Guidance and Counselling focus may relate to personal, educational or career issues.
  • School management, teachers, parents and chaplain may refer students. Friends of students may sometimes consult with the Counsellor resulting in an appointment.
  • The voluntary participation in counselling of the referred student must be respected by all concerned.
  • The Guidance Counsellor may recognise that an individual student needs assistance from other qualified professionals outside the school environment. The counsellor organises such provision following agreed procedures with the school, parents and local agencies.
  • Recommendations are made about appropriate agencies. Parents may be encouraged to refer a student through his GP.
  • Particular care is taken to involve all interested parties in the student’s welfare. However all such information will be shared as appropriate on a need to know basis.

Home School/Community Liaison Teacher

  • To maximise the active participation of students in the learning process, in particular those who might be at risk of failure.
  • To promote active co-operation between home, school and relevant community agencies in promoting the educational interests of students.
  • To raise awareness in parents of their own capacities to enhance their children’s educational progress and to assist them in developing relevant skills.
  • To enhance the student’s uptake from education, their retention in the educational system, their continuation to post-compulsory education and to third level.

Behavioural Support Classroom

The purpose of the BSC is to enable our school to embrace and implement evidence-based best practice approaches to creating positive learning experiences for our students. As well as offering support for the minority of students who persistently present challenging and disruptive behaviours within subject classrooms, a BSC can provide a model of effective personalised learning and teaching that could be disseminated and replicated in all class rooms throughout the school.

It provides an intensive, short term, individualised intervention for students who consistently fail to respond to alternative interventions and supports in the school. It is an essential facet of the whole school approach, to the promotion of positive behaviour.

The Behaviour for Learning teachers focus with students on the following positive characteristics;

  • More positive self- image
  • An improved attitude to school
  • Better attendance
  • Increased motivation
  • More positive attitude to learning
  • Successful gradual reintegration
  • Targets/objectives met
  • Reduction in timetabled attendance in BSC.

There is a referral procedure in place and students are provided with a Student Behaviour Plan which will include the following;

  • Clear, measurable targets.
  • Named adults involved in the plan.
  • A description of any resources and strategies to be used.
  • A clear description of the role the BSC staff will play in the Plan.
  • A clear and realistic time-frame to run the plan including data for monitoring and evaluation
  • Key success and reintegration criteria.

This Behavioural Support Strategy underpins our view that a student can improve his behaviour when provided with adequate support and by so doing can experience success in the classroom.

School Completion Personnel

The School Completion Programme aims to impact positively on the retention levels of our students. Its multi-faceted approach contributes to the facilitation of student achievement by increasing the number of students completing their second level education. The supports respond to the social and personal needs of students through After-school and Out-of school initiatives. Activities such as breakfast clubs, activity afternoons, summer programmes, homework clubs etc, make a valuable contribution to encouraging students to feel positive about their experience of school. These activities are supported by the school in very practical ways through the provision of finance and personnel. The school supports the aims of the programme particularly the following:

  • To retain our students in the formal education system to completion of the Leaving Certificate or equivalent.
  • To offer positive supports to our students to prevent early school leaving.
  • To ensure the Programme is student centred by developing programmes appropriate to his needs.
  • To support and encourage families to act in partnership with the school and other agencies for the educational benefit of the student.

The School Completion personnel make a significant contribution to the pastoral process through its representative on the Pastoral Care Committee.

The Student Council

The Student Council plays an important role in the life of the school. It is resourced and supported by a member of staff who attends all meetings. The Council enables students to acquire organisational, planning and communication skills so necessary for students as they move from the school environment to the social world outside the school environment. All students have a role to play in the election of the Council. This experience of participatory democracy provides students with a valuable learning experience which will enable them to take an active role in their local community.

The DES highlights the role of the Council as follows:

  • It enhances communication between students, parents and teachers
  • Promotes an environment conducive to educational and personal development
  • Promotes friendship and respect among students
  • Supports the Management and Staff in the development of the school
  • Gives students a role on issues that are of concern to them.

Our school supports the aims as highlighted by the DES.

Social Personal and Health Education and its role in the pastoral process.

SPHE as part of the curriculum supports the personal development, health and well-being of young people and helps them create and maintain supportive relationships. There is a very clear link between the SPHE Programme and Pastoral Care provision. The SPHE Curriculum and the Pastoral Care Programme are implemented in concert with each other and as a consequence this connection will ensure the student is placed at the centre of both initiatives.

The aims of SPHE are:

  • To enable students develop skills for self-fulfilment enabling them to make an active and positive contribution to society.
  • To promotes self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • To enable students develop a framework for responsible decision making.
  • To provide opportunities for reflection and discussion.
  • To promote physical, mental and emotional health and well – being.

Special Needs Assistant (SNA):

Special Needs Assistants are recruited specifically to assist our school in providing the necessary non-teaching services to pupils with assessed educational needs. They have a very important role in ensuring that students with SEN are given the support necessary to enable them to benefit fully from the Education Provision in our school. We are very conscious of the need to ensure the SNA , teacher and parents work in harmony for the benefit of the student .

Their duties are assigned by the Principal on behalf of the Board of Management. Those duties may involve the following:

  • Assisting students to board and alight from school transport.
  • Special assistance as necessary for students with particular difficulties e.g. helping special needs pupils with writing, reading, word processing, computers or other use of equipment.
  • Assisting on out of school visits, walks, examinations and similar activities.
  • Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils during assembly, recreation, and dispersal from the classroom.

This list of duties is not exhaustive and may be adjusted at any time depending on the needs of the students with SEN.

The SNAs’ will meet with the Co-ordinator of the Pastoral Care Team and the Principal every other week to review the progress of all students in their care. These meetings will ensure the individual needs of the student are being met. They will also meet with the parents/guardians of the students in their care at least once per term or more frequently if required. A member of the teaching staff, Pastoral Care Team or Management will also attend this meeting.

This Policy gives a unity of purpose to the work carried out by staff in support of our students. It underpins our commitment to provide our students with a positive and supportive learning environment.
Student wellbeing is also at the heart of this policy. It ensures the learning environment is safe, inclusive, and facilitates students to engage with the all aspects of school life.

This policy was presented to Staff at a Staff Meeting on 21st September 2011. It was passed with some amendments.

This policy was approved by the Board of Management in October 2011.