“After only a few weeks in Nursery I have noticed her showing an awareness of the concept of kindness. It is so obvious that this is an early focus with the girls”
Pastoral care at Croydon High Junior School is our number one priority. The health and wellbeing of our girls is at the heart of how our community operates. Mental health is taken every bit as seriously as physical health and our curriculum reflects this, as well as the approach taken by all our staff to pastoral care.
Class Teachers are the first port of call for girls and parents with any concern. They have primary pastoral responsibility for every girl in their class and, whether their concern is about school work, a friendship issue or something at home, all girls very quickly feel comfortable sharing any concerns with their Class Teacher. Of course there are also many other adults to whom our girls may choose to speak about a problem including our school nurse. Mrs Crossfield is our Assistant Head (Pastoral and Outreach). All girls know that they can approach her at any time with pastoral concerns. Girls also know that Mrs Raja’s door is always open to them and many come to see her to show her work they are proud of, tell her about ideas for events or make suggestions for clubs.
We take the mental wellbeing of our girls very seriously and aim to buck the national trend of a rise in mental health issues in young girls. Our PSHE curriculum and wider approach see every girl in our Junior School being taught the language, knowledge and tools needed to recognise their mood and take positive steps to improve their mental health. For those girls who need more support in this area, Mrs Crossfield runs small groups and one to one sessions where girls can share any feelings of anxiety, learn strategies for managing mental health issues, practise their Positive Tool Box and try mindfulness. We also have a school counsellor and access to Place 2 Be for when specific individual support is required for any girl.
If one of our girls complains of feeling unwell or we notice them looking under the weather, they visit our Junior Office. We will make an assessment, as well as offering all the usual quick remedies as you would at home like a drink of water, a visit to the bathroom, a lie down in our Junior School Medical Room or simply some TLC. If we think your daughter needs a dose of paracetamol, you will have given permission for this with initial medical paperwork but we always call parents to let them know as well.
Making friends, and falling out with them, are part and parcel of growing up. Lessons in PSHE as well and form time and assembly time are used to teach the girls the skills of communicating, collaborating and negotiating. We also teach the girls a system called TAG which stands for:
Tell them how you feel
Ask them to stop
Get an adult
This gives girls a clear strategy to adopt if another girl’s behaviour makes them feel unhappy or uncomfortable. It also allows them to be part of the solution and avoids them viewing themselves as powerless in the situation.
We encourage girls to speak up and seek help from adults when they need it, at the same time as encouraging them to solve problems independently when they can.
In every lesson, every day girls are empowered to have a voice. Sharing ideas, justifying answers, reading their work, performing to the class; each of these moments helps to build confidence in each girl. On top of that weekly Drama and Music with specialist teachers develops the skills of performance and creativity. Girls then have numerous opportunities to perform in front of a variety of audiences. From informal concerts to whole school productions girls acquire the skills of presentation, learning how to use body and voice to communicate their message as well as developing the ability to harness nerves rather than being overwhelmed by them. Whether on the stage or in the boardroom, girls who grow up with regular opportunities to perform in front of an audience display more confidence in these situations.
Our staff are always available for a quick chat at the end of the day at pick up. Homework diaries can also be used for brief notes. However, most parents prefer to email their daughter’s class teacher to communicate. This means parents can send a question when they think of it, even if that is halfway through a meeting or on the train home!