En CGA we have a very strong belief in the close link between education and health. Good pastoral care is a fundamental aspect of effective schools.
All the most recent evidence tells us that:
- Students with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically
- Effective social and emotional competencies are associated with greater health and wellbeing, and better achievement
- The culture, ethos and environment of a school influences the health and wellbeing of students and their readiness to learn.
Over the past two years the Covid pandemic has brought to schools’ attention globally the impact of the pandemic on students’ wellbeing and mental health, and has highlighted just how important pastoral leadership and pastoral care are for our students.
Since lockdown, schools around the world continue to report an increasing demand for the services of the pastoral care team. The reason is clear: against a decade-long pattern of deteriorating mental health among young people, the Covid-19 pandemic has made everything worse.
Numerous recent studies have observed sharp increases in rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and suicide attempts.
As an online school, lessons at CGA continued as normal during the pandemic so the worry over lost learning time and concern for students’ academic futures were not as prevalent as in regular schools.
However, that does not mean that our students were not impacted by the effects of the pandemic, especially as we have a significant number of part time students who did lose learning time in their regular schools.
In addition, it is adolescents and young people in particular, who rely heavily on peer connections for emotional and social support, and for social development who were particularly vulnerable to the pandemic and lockdown effects.
Given the increasingly stressful and challenging times that we now live in there is an increasing need for our pastoral care team of Deans and Careers Counsellor Bob Fan to provide support and advice.
We also are fortunate to have a highly qualified and experienced Guidance Counsellor available for students with specific needs such as particularly challenging mental health conditions. The sort of multi-faceted and vital assistance CGA’s pastoral care team provide include:
- Helping students to explore their difficulties and concerns, and to develop their capabilities and resilience
- Supporting and advising students with different emotional and mental health needs
- Fostering conditions in which a student can grow and develop as a person
- Offering leadership and sharing expertise in promoting positive relationships
- Promoting awareness of and respect for difference
- Promoting healthy communication between families, peers and staff
- Student advocacy
- Mediation/restorative practices
- Accessing support from a variety of external agencies and social services Identifying students at risk and providing appropriate support
Providing such services is becoming an increasingly important and necessary function of a secondary school. There is strong research evidence that pastoral care can augment academic outcomes and assist in enriching students’ lives and wellbeing by fostering positive relationships among students, reducing truancy and other forms of absenteeism, improving retention rates, and enhancing resilience.
CGA students are fortunate that the school’s pastoral care network is available to them and is staffed by highly qualified and empathetic staff.