The girls at St Nicholas’ develop into well-rounded, confident, respectful and kind young people, which is in no small part down to our dedicated Pastoral Team.
Each pupil will have a dedicated class teacher (Juniors) or form teacher (Seniors) who they will touch base with at least 3 times a day. This allows the tutor to get to know the pupils individually and act as the first point of contact if there are any concerns. The tutor holds an overall picture of that pupil's academic and personal development, allowing them to quickly identify if they are having an off day or if there is a greater level of need for which they require additional support.
Overseeing the tutor teams are Heads of Phase; they meet weekly with the tutor teams and are quick to offer support on an individual or group basis, resolving friendship disputes, providing a listening ear or instigating a more detailed support plan.
The Director of Pastoral Care takes overall responsibility for the pastoral care of all the pupils, as well as holding overall responsibility for safeguarding, with the support of three Deputy Designated Safeguarding leads. Find out more about our Director of Pastoral Care here ( Meet Our Director Of Pastoral Care - St Nicholas' School (st-nicholas.hants.sch.uk)
In addition, we also have 2 fully trained ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants) who work with girls on a referral basis. These referrals can be made by staff or parents as and when a need is identified. They plan and deliver programs of support to children at St Nicholas’ who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. ELSA support programs are delivered in a caring, supportive and fun way. We will try to help children find ways to cope with their individual challenges by helping them build the skills that are needed to work through any issues. The majority of ELSA work is expected to be delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work will be appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. More information about ELSA can be found here. ( ELSA - St Nicholas' School (st-nicholas.hants.sch.uk))
The School Counsellor works with girls on a referral basis. Caroline Sanger is registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and is a Professional member of the National Hypnotherapy Society and Counselling Society. She has full Professional Liability Insurance. She holds an Advanced Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, a Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Counselling Skills and a Diploma in Emotional Freedom Therapy. Caroline works on a peripatetic basis, with an agreement signed between Caroline and the parent, and the cost of sessions paid by the parent to Caroline directly. Caroline has experience supporting clients through a range of difficulties including, but not limited to: anxiety, self-harm, depression, panic attacks, family separation, exam pressure, trauma, sexuality, bereavement, friendship issues, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
The Pastoral system is also supported by our school SENDCo, who is also Head of Curriculum Support. The SEND department run sessions such as social skills groups and board games club to help with pupils’ social and emotional development. More information about our SEND department can be found here Learning Support - St Nicholas' School (st-nicholas.hants.sch.uk)
Our school medical officer, and the Director of Pastoral Care, are both Youth Mental Health First Aid trained, allowing them to spot signs of poor mental health and know how to best respond in a crisis.
Undeniably the most popular member of our pastoral team is Jasper, our wellbeing dog. Jasper was born on the 14th May 2021 so is still very much a puppy in training. Over time Jasper will be our wellbeing dog with his own timetable of activities, but he is already helping pupils who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious to calm down and get back to lessons. Jasper is attending ELSA and counselling sessions, helping the girls feel able to open up and talk.
Our ‘who to talk to’ posters around the school help signpost the pupils to the available support.
Our wellbeing program centers around our ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’, which pupils are encouraged to practise in their everyday lives. Wellbeing Thursdays give the Senior pupils an opportunity to practise these by taking part in a range of wellbeing activities from Yoga to crafts, or get some fresh air with a walk through the grounds.
In the Infants and Juniors, all pupils follow the ‘My Happy Mind’ Program. myHappymind is all based around helping children to understand how their brain works and to support them in developing positive skills and habits to be their very best selves! It is based around 5 key modules: meet your brain, celebrate, appreciate, relate and engage. Each module is designed using the science of how the brain works to help the pupils learn more about their emotions and how their reactions may differ from those of others. myHappymind is delivered in schools by class teachers through a series of interactive lessons and then the children apply these learnings throughout the day. The program is taught to all pupils from early years to year 6, and has been shown to improve pupils' resilience and decrease the instances of mental health issues by equipping the pupils with the skills they need to understand their emotions and reduce their own anxieties, before they reach crisis point.
To further embed this learning and ensure that parents are able to engage in these topics with their child, myHappymind has developed a set of resources for parents. These resources can be accessed online on your computer, or through an app on your phone. The resources allow children to continue to practise some of the habits they have developed at school, such as happy breathing, and for you to learn more about what they are learning in the program. Also included are activities for you to do together at home, to complement the in-school lessons.
To access these materials just go to https://myhappymind.org/parent-resources and you’ll be guided through the process.