… from the newsletter notes of Head Teacher John Boyce
Cardinal Hume sums up our philosophy:
Education, in its broadest sense, is concerned with life long inner growth, with achieving of personal wholeness and integrity, with the development to the utmost of personal gifts and creativity. It is one of the teachers’ tasks to help develop their pupils’ ability to form relationships and to be part of a living and loving community. That part of the teacher’s job is highly skilled, vitally important and sometimes lost sight of. One of the secrets here is to recognise that a school is not an institution, but a community.
We take pride in our pastoral care of students, and the Student Services faculty works at the heart of our school. Under the guidance of faculty head Mike Rose, the faculty oversees staff training in behavioural management and pastoral care of students, supporting students through counselling, reading and special needs. They support the whanau teachers, and gather data on students and make sure their needs are addressed. They look after careers counselling and vocational training courses, our peer mediation programme and peer support-where senior students give their time to help students in junior classes.
In some schools pastoral care is delegated to a group of deans – at Garin every teacher has an important role in helping to foster the whole person of our students.
As a Catholic school we recognise the “whole person” of each student – and we try to acknowledge all the needs (and gifts) of students. In fact pastoral care involves all the things young people need to help them grow into confident, skilled and positive people with the very best chance of having a happy adult life: we try to wrap all of our supports around a student who needs our help.
That’s a huge task-so how did we go about it?
The Garin whanau teacher is the most important person in the pastoral care of your student. That is the person who is responsible for getting to know each student in terms of all aspects of their pastoral care; that is the person parents normally contact first with a concern. Staff meet in groups every Tuesday to discuss the strengths of the students in their whanau classes, to look for patterns of absences or lateness, to discuss work levels, and changes in attitude and behaviour, and to make sure we are moving forward with each student in need.
We have our own systems for course selection and careers advice, reading support and special needs, vocational education, chaplaincy, and all the rest. And we have our support agencies: we have very good relationships with our Public Health Nurse (who understands the requirements of working in a Catholic environment), counselling services in the community, training organisations, vocational education providers, and all the other support groups in our community.
Pastoral care is the hallmark of Garin-and we put a lot of time and energy into making sure we look after our students.