It may be easy to spot when pastoral care is lacking, but how do you know if a school is delivering the gold standard? If you walk around and see/hear happy pupils interacting in a confident manner with peers and staff alike, then you’re probably on to something good. A lot of it is about trusting your instinct, but here are a few pointers of specific things to look for:
Is the environment good enough?
Surroundings and environment have more of an impact on well-being than many might give credit. Rugby School Thailand is lucky to sit in 80-acres of beautiful countryside, which creates an inspiring backdrop to learning and offers ample space for children to get outside and play. Our classrooms are big and airy, and teachers creatively use colour and texture to bring personality to each space. We also try to create quiet breakout spaces that children can escape to if needed; for example, the Pre-Prep classrooms have little corner dens that give children an opportunity to have calm time away from others.
What is the support system like?
Pastoral care is about the integrated practices that ensure the well-being of your child. Children need to know there’s a trustworthy line of support for times when they find life challenging, and understand that there are different people they can go to. We have a full-time counsellor available for our students, as well as regular support through our Tutor system, where great teacher/pupil rapport is build. Posters around the school remind pupils of this network and we also have nurses in each section of the school for any medical needs.
Does that school have dedicated pastoral personnel?
For each stage of Rugby School Thailand (Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior) we have senior management who are in charge of pastoral care; these are the people who create and implement the policies and practices that inform how your child is looked after. They are responsible for safeguarding of your most precious possessions, so make sure you are able to meet to them and speak about any specific concerns you may have.
Do they offer activities to boost well-being?
Activities that teach children techniques to calm and centre themselves, such as yoga and mindfulness, are not revolutionary in today’s world, but they do signify institutions that understand the mind/body balance. Similarly, sports and co-curricular activities are a brilliant way to help your child to get active while finding new areas in which to excel beyond the classroom; this is important for self-esteem, which in turn feeds into happiness. We weave all of these into the school days at Rugby School Thailand, so our children are constantly exposed to well-being opportunities.
Would you enjoy the food?
A healthy diet affects everything else, so look at the school meals and ask yourself if you’d be happy with that for yourself? Are there lots of options? Does the menu change daily? How healthy is the food? Do mealtimes offer a social experience? Our menus are colourful and varied, so children constantly see and try new things. We also have a system where teachers sit with and talk to pupils during meals, so the dining hall is always filled with laughter and conversation!
Do the teachers care?
This is probably the biggest point for us. If the teachers actually truly care about your children, then you will be leaving them in excellent hands. In a recent exchange over lunch, a new pupil was asked what he was particularly liking about Rugby School Thailand and he replied: “the way teachers here care about the pupils – not only in the classroom, but around school”. For us, pastoral care and academic success are one and the same thing; happy pupils equal happy learners.