Pastoral Care is at the centre of our offer for all children at Dorchester Primary School. We truly are a caring community. We recognise that children only get one childhood, and we want our children to be happy every day. They should be able to look back on their primary years as a time full of joy, without the worries and anxieties that can creep up in later life.
We also know that happy children make the most engaged and effective learners, so excellent pastoral care reaps academic benefits too.
At our school, pastoral care begins with our everyday interactions with children. We build them up, not put them down, We don't shout at children - instead we teach our school values to ensure our children understand how to behave positively, and we encourage them to try to make everyone else's life a little bit better every day.
All of our children know they have someone to talk to at school and that no worry is ever too small to share. This person might be a class teacher, a member of our support staff or another pupil trained as a Mental Health First Aider or Peer Mentor.
We use Zones of Regulation to encourage our children to think and talk about their feelings. The children learn that we all spend some time of our days and weeks in each Zone, and that that is fine. The important part is knowing what to do when we are in each zone to help ourselves to re-regulate.
At a more formal level, we offer Drawing and Talking therapy, Emotional Literacy Support (ELSA programme), Lego-Based Therapy, Solutions Based Mentoring and a Gardening Nurture Group for those children who might benefit from these interventions over a short or longer term. We also have access to external support from professional counselling services if needed.
We share information regularly, either ourselves or via the Education Wellbeing Service, to help our families to support their children's wellbeing. We host workshops and coffee afternoons for parents and carers on subjects such as reducing anxiety in children and support children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Through these, parents build wonderful support networks and can make lifelong friends.
We ask our parents and carers to keep us informed of any circumstances that might affect their child's wellbeing - however short term it may be. This may range from something quite significant, such as family bereavement or breakdown, to something seemingly quite small but of great importance to a child, such as the death of a hamster. By knowing what is having an impact on your child we can offer them the support they need to deal with the often new emotions they may be feeling.
We have a wonderful Home School Link Worker (Julie Enright) who is often the first point of contact for children or families who are struggling or need further support. She can offer advice and support in setting up effective bedtime and morning routines, coping with difficult behaviour and much more besides. She can be contacted on email@example.com