Croydon High Junior School
“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.
Our Junior wellbeing room is situated in the Discovery Zone by the library. This is a calm room where girls can take a break from situations that are overwhelming them and decompress. Assistant Head, Mrs Crossfield uses the room to spend one to one time supporting girls with a whole range of pastoral issues and leading conversations about wellbeing and mental health. There are helpful books to read, games to play, and comfy seating to relax on. It is a safe space in which to raise concerns, thrash out ideas and talk about life away from the classroom. The Wellbeing Room is also used by our occupational therapist and others involved in the care of our girls.
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 Miss Pendleton’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.
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.