How do we cater for pastoral needs in KS5?
Four key values underpin everything we do in the sixth form at South Wilts. These are:
In many ways, these are interlinked and we attempt to fulfil these – partially – in the following ways:
Students at Key Stage 5 are guided very closely by their tutors in terms of supporting them through the next stage of the journey. Tutors will work with students early on in September to ensure that they are comfortable with their options, and are the first port of call for pastoral concerns. Tutors meet with students for 1:1s throughout their sixth form career: these cover a multitude of areas including academic and pastoral care, but their purpose is to ensure that tutors know their tutees really well and can guide them appropriately.
Students follow a weekly programme of events: on Monday, students go through the week ahead with their tutors, using the Sixth Form bulletin, on Tuesday and Friday assemblies take place and on Wednesday and Thursday, tutor group activities take place. One of these days will normally involve discussing the philosophical or topical question on the bulletin. Tutors will also gear activities towards their students’ interests and these have included quizzes, debates, current affairs, debating film clips, examining BBC News 24.
In short, sixth form tutoring fulfils a number of very important functions:
The Heads of Year/ Director of Sixth Form
Each year group works very closely with their Head of Year (Mrs MacTaggart/Miss Marsh) and the Director of Sixth Form (Mr Bishop). We work out the teaching timetables to ensure that one of the Heads of Year or Director of Sixth Form is always available to talk to, and we operate an open-door policy. We will always do all we can to help students – most importantly – to be happy at school and to be successful.
When a need is identified, students are sometimes invited onto a regular mentoring programme, where they meet with one of the sixth form staff, or the Senior Leadership Team, to discuss problems and successes. Sometimes, the staff will be a listening ear; sometimes, mentors will be more proactive in helping students with action planning and practical issues.
All sixth formers have access to the school counsellor, who is in school three days a week. Counselling is completely confidential and gives students the opportunity to access specialist support, which is entirely independent of sixth form and other teaching staff.
Careers and Personal Development
Again, this is a crucial part of sixth form life. Mrs Mackay, our careers adviser, is in school on Monday to Thursday and works with every sixth former to offer impartial and extensive careers advice. All students can see her as many times as they like when they like. There is also a drop-in service every day, so that students don’t have to wait if they have urgent questions. As well as this, we run specialist programmes for many different types of university entries (e.g. Oxbridge, medics, vets, primary teaching) and also for entering the world of work, apprenticeships, school-leavers training programme. Our aim is to make sure that everybody can go on to what and where they want to, and have all of the skills, both academic and personal, to make a success of their futures. Once students leave SWGS, they are always welcome to come back into school, as and when they need support and advice. Click here to view the Careers and Higher Education support and guidance page.
PSD lessons form a critical part of the sixth form education. The weekly lessons are compulsory for all students, and lessons are divided into four topics. These are:
We view these lessons as making a critical contribution to helping students to shape their futures as fulfilled and open-minded people who are ready for the next stage of their lives. The PSD programme can be found in the sixth form area of the website. Click here to view the Sixth Form PSD Programme.
Student Leadership in the Sixth Form – its Pastoral Role
Sixth form student leaders also play a vital role in the pastoral system in the sixth form. The Head Girls represent the school community and meet regularly with the sixth form staff to bring the students’ views. Sixth form leaders also play a mentoring role, mentoring – for example – students in their year group, or in Year 12 who have asked for student support. We also have two prefects who are the BWS link prefects, who represent SWGS students’ views to the BWS sixth form staff. Sixth form leaders play a vital role in developing the sixth form community, helping to make sure that it is an integrated and cohesive community, where all realise that all of their actions have an impact on others.
Overall, providing the very best possible care for our students is at the centre of all we do. We aim to know our students really well, support them whatever their individual needs, so that they can leave us as happy, confident, reflective, compassionate and fulfilled young adults.