As the buzz of happy students filled the air on their return to campus for the start of a new school year at Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate (QE), the focus on delivering pastoral care of the highest standard continues, more than ever, to be of upmost importance.
With the Covid-19 pandemic being referenced by many as one of the biggest disruptions to education in history, promoting positive wellbeing and mental health has never been more pertinent.
Care is the most important element within the QE community; every member of the Collegiate, staff and student, is responsible for the pastoral care and happiness of the site.
Head of Pastoral Care at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, Jemma Holroyd shares why this is crucial for effective learning; Positive mental health is essential to personal wellbeing and happiness; it can make the difference between thriving or surviving and it is fundamental in helping students to fulfil their learning potential. To support students and equip them with essential life skills, at QE we aim to deliver a robust, responsive mental health programme to promote awareness and understanding about positive mental health while at the same time offering practical advice and guidance about a range of mental health issues.’
QE offers support and guidance to all students and parents to ensure that everyone in the community is working to support individual students needs and equipping them with the right skills, not only to be successful in education, but to excel in their chosen career and life in general. There is a focus on developing students’ skills and resilience, whilst nurturing their wellbeing. A dedicated team of trained staff is on call 24 hours a day to offer support and guidance to all students within a specialist welfare area.
QE’s innovative THRIVE@QE programme offers each and every student the opportunity to access a huge range of activities to support their positive mental health and wellbeing, either in scheduled group sessions or on a one to one basis. This includes support sessions, workshops, activities and events focused on fostering positive emotional health such as; building self-esteem, strategies to help with exam stress, adjusting to change, home sickness, coping with a loss or bereavement, staying safe online, tea and talk, and specialist Forces and international support.
As well as specially trained pastoral staff, QE has a team of students who are on hand to help around the school and in the boarding houses. Buddies and Peer Leaders show new students around, explain the school systems, introduce students to new people and help them settle in. In the Sixth Form there are trained Peer Mentors, who offer a wide range of support to students and can offer mentoring on a one-to-one basis to help with academic progress, cultural understanding, contacting parents in the Forces, or day to day routines.
As well as this varied range of accessible support, within the academic curriculum there are also bespoke lessons about mental health issues which are explored in personal development sessions. Whole school wellbeing awareness weeks give all students access to mental health information and resources from national providers, as well as from outside agencies. In addition, assemblies, lesson starters, tutor activities, workshops and Q&A sessions are delivered in response to students’ needs. In this way, pastoral, boarding and academic sides of the school successfully support each other in a co-ordinated approach to learning about the importance of mental health.
At QE, everything possible is done to prepare students for the many experiences they will encounter as they move through their educational journey and future life.