Pastoral Care

"Pastoral care is excellent."

Independent Schools' Inspectorate
February, 2015

At Cobham Hall, we look after not just our students’ academic education, but support and nurture the development of the whole person.

Central to our ethos is the belief that to learn and develop effectively, students need to be happy and comfortable in their environment.  As a result, we take a whole school approach to pastoral care, from our own Cobham PSHE timetabled sessions on Wellbeing, to our support structure and through to a full balanced Extra-Curricular Programme. Looking after students’ emotional and physical wellbeing forms the essence of our pastoral care practices. As a small School where everyone knows everyone, we have a natural advantage in providing excellent, individual care for all our girls.

Wellbeing

Our Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) Programme, timetabled as ‘Wellbeing’, deals with the topics you’d expect of PSHE – bullying, relationships, internet safety and drug awareness to name a few.  However, we focus on teaching the virtues and positive character traits needed to deal with a variety of situations the girls may find themselves, or a friend, in throughout their lives.

In addition, we have developed a dedicated extra-curricular Wellbeing Programme that ties in with these timetabled sessions.  Examples of this include cookery, to gain a greater understanding of healthy eating, sports activities to boost fitness, and workshops for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Our girls also have access to a dedicated Wellbeing Centre; a space to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy day and just take time out to relax, chat and play.  There is a well-stocked collection of books and leaflets on a variety of issues covering emotional and physical health and self-care.  Noticeboards around the room provide advice ranging from ‘how to be a good friend’ to ‘dealing with eating disorders’.  Much of the information is available to take away, and there are details about how to access outside independent listeners.  There is also a wealth of relaxing activities, with girls dropping in simply to use the colouring books, play Jenga, mould the Play-Doh, or just blow bubbles.

At advertised times of the day, a Housemistress is available for a chat, and there is a room for private counselling if required.  We also understand that sometimes girls would prefer to talk to their peers, and so as well as staff being on hand, our Peer Mentors are available. The Peer Mentor scheme has been running successfully for several years, but some students have now had training in active listening skills and are in the Wellbeing Centre each lunchtime.

Peer Mentors and Big Sisters

Girls from Year 10 upwards can be official Peer Mentors to younger students. They are given full training, and are supported in their role by teachers and pastoral staff.  With additional training given on active listening skills, our Peer Mentors are an integral part of our Wellbeing Centre.

Upon arriving at Cobham Hall, each student is paired with a ‘Big Sister’; a girl from the same Tutor Group, who will either be in the same year group or the year above.  Big Sisters help new students find their way around, and settle in to life at Cobham Hall.

Tutor Groups and Boarding

The School is divided into three sections: Lower School (Years 7 and 8), Middle School (Years 9, 10 and 11) and Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13).  A Senior Tutor is responsible for Lower School and another for Middle School, while the Head of Sixth Form has overall responsibility for the oldest girls.  There are regular Pastoral Committee meetings to enable smooth communication, raise any concerns about students, and co-ordinate activities.

Each student belongs to a Tutor Group of between 9 and 15 girls, with a Tutor who keeps an eye on the progress and behaviour of all his or her tutees. Tutor Groups are “vertical” – they are composed of girls from different year groups within the same section (Lower or Middle School, or Sixth Form).  This promotes friendships between year groups and encourages older girls to support younger ones.

In Boarding, Housemistresses get to know all of their boarders well as they are each responsible for a small group. Good relationships between Housemistresses and their charges mean that girls feel comfortable confiding in their Housemistress. House staff work together with teachers and tutors to ensure the best care for all students.