Pupils Welfare And Academic Attainment Education Essay

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Pastoral care, or as it is known in an educational setting as Personal, Social, Health and Economic education or PSHE, has been under much debate and scrutiny in the last decade or so. The discourse surrounding this area of education is about how important it is and if it has a place within or alongside the National Curriculum. There are questions about the relevance PSHE plays within schools and whether it is second to the more academic based subjects, and if it is in fact an area that needs to be included who is tasked with the job of delivering it?

The main publications I will be using to discuss the question are, Perspectives on Pastoral Care; Pastoral Care and Personal Social Education: Entitlement and Provision; Problems and Practice of Pastoral Care; How to be a Successful Form Tutor; The Pastoral and the Academic. Additionally to these I will be making use of articles, electronic material and an inspection report by Ofsted into PSHE.

Pastoral care and personal-social education can be found to originate before the Education Act was formed in 1944 and some evidence dates as far back as the last century. Although it was not until the 1970s, and soon after critics, that publications about pastoral care began to emerge in print, so it can safely be said that PSHE and pastoral care has existed alongside education for a while, (Best et al, 1995). A diffused concept from the general consensus for a reasonable definition of PSHE is;

"Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is a planned programme of learning opportunities and experiences that help children and young people grow and develop as individuals and as members of families and of social and economic communities". [1] 

(PSHE Education, ND)

When it comes to pastoral care a phrase which is becoming increasingly used is 'the hidden curriculum', a phrase that defines a side effect of learning which is not purposely intended. The objection to this is that no part of the curriculum should be 'hidden', for only if it is openly defined can there be a plausible and unified structured programme of PSHE within schools, (Marland & Rogers, 2004, p.20). An interesting point raised by Keith Blackburn that can relate to the 'hidden curriculum' is that each member of the teaching staff, not only the form tutor, contributes in various ways to areas focused on the PSHE lessons, something I will address later in this review (Blackburn cited in Best et al, 1980 p.58). Overall, it is clear in some areas that there are values based on PSHE within schools and it is seen as an essential aspect of 'whole school' ethos, fostering a safe and secure environment where children are able to learn.

So, from my initial readings it seems that the role of the form tutor is to improve the overall wellbeing of the pupil with the intention of it having a positive impact on the rest of their education. With this general background in mind we can begin to discuss how the position held by the pastoral carer/form tutor is significant to pupils' welfare and academic attainment.

The form tutor can have many roles within a school, he/she are the first adult pupils will meet in the morning and he/she have more contact time with each pupil in comparison to their subject teachers. As a teacher he/she is there to provide support and guidance, as well as being a role model to whom their pupils can look up to. Dillon and Maguire acknowledge this in their book Becoming a Teacher, and then go on to say "just being there is an important factor, providing pupils with what might be the only point of security in the case of those with chaotic lives", (Dillon & Maguire, 2011, p.371). In addressing the point made by Blackburn brought up earlier in this discussion, subjects teacher can contribute to areas focused on by the main pastoral carer. Then again their main objective is to teach their curriculum subject, unlike the form tutor, they would not comply with a structured programme that pupils will benefit from within PSHE lessons. Furthermore, while it is the duty of the form tutor to promote 'personal development', Blackburn also insists the form tutor has to understand the way each pupil sees himself in order to contribute to his further understanding and insight", (Blackburn, cited in Best et al, 1980, p.58).

This support of a form tutor can be a great help during the adolescent stage of a pupil's life as Watkins (1981) explains that one of the main area of the form tutor's role will be to experience is just that 'adolescence'. A tricky time for a pupil as they are attempting to develop their own identity and where they fit within the larger community. Watkins puts it as "adolescents are continuously involved in experimenting with their self-presentation and judging the reactions thereto", (Watkins, ND, cited in Hamblin, 1981, p.22).

During his career Douglas Hamblin (1981) had become increasingly aware of schools where the pastoral system was under-functioning and making little direct contribution to the attainment of the 'whole schools' ethos. He seems to acknowledge that teachers were not the ones to blame, the problem stemmed from ineffective pastoral care caused by a poor lack of structured programmes from which carers could deliver useful lessons, (Hamblin, 1981, p.3). Fortunately, varied outlines of teaching criteria in these PSHE lessons can be found in many publications, in addition necessary qualities in being a successful form tutor can be also be found. One particular publication which discusses both would be How to be a successful Form Tutor, by Marland & Rogers, (2004) in which they describe that "a form tutor is a teacher whose subject is the pupil herself", (Marland & Rogers, 2004, p.19). The suggestion here is that each pupil's 'personal development', addressed by Blackburn earlier, is different and they should have their own individual learning plan to help them progress. Marland and Rogers then go on to write about a model that focuses on seven areas of personal-social growth drawn upon by Richard Pring; these include intellectual and moral virtues, character traits, social competencies, practical and theoretical knowledge and personal values, (Pring, 1984, cited in Marland& Rogers, 2004 p.22-4).These areas described here can aid in the improvement of both the welfare of pupils and their overall academic achievement; or as Calvert expresses it, "issues of emotional intelligence were central to learning and not just concerned with attending to the welfare of the child", (Calvert, 2009, p. 274).

In 1980 there was a 'Great Debate' of education looking into the establishment of a more purposeful curriculum; the subject of pastoral care was vaguely addressed but not much was done about the "elaborate and often complicated systems" that were in place, "in which academic affairs were separated from welfare and guidance", (Best et al, 1980, p.(xi)). In the publication The Pastoral and the Academic, Powers (1996) writes that in its early stages pastoral care had been used as a way to describe any task that would not fit into the academic side of education, (Power, 1996, p.30). As it was defined primarily in negative terms, it lacked internal coherence and organising principles, (Power, 1996, p.30). So there seems to be this great lapse between both pastoral and academic, but some writers feel there is a need to combine the two in an interlacing relationship so they can feed off each other to improve performance of pupils' wellbeing and academics. Hamblin feels that "the relationship of pastoral care to achievement cannot be stressed too strongly (Hamblin, 1981, p4).

There is a large amount of evidence that suggests PSHE has had a strong influence on pupils in both positive and negative ways. Such an example is the Ofsted inspection report into personal, social, health and economic education in schools, which took place between September 2006 and July 2009 in 165 maintained schools in England. In one school visited pupils responded positively towards PSHE education, "exhibiting excellent behaviour within lessons and had developed lively and articulate debating skills and were also willing to listen to the views of others", (Ofsted, 2010). The pupils also showed their social and personal skills in practical ways by acting as role models and mentors for younger pupils. The findings suggest that many of the schools with consistent and good quality teaching were very much dependant on whether PSHE was taught by non-specialist teachers (who were often tutors) or by teachers who had had some training in PSHE education", (Ofsted, 2010). This analysis suggests the benefits from having a strongly structured programme for PSHE lessons can aid any type of tutor deliver a lesson.

There is evidence of negative views towards pastoral care picked up by Powers (1996), Calvert (2009) and Hamblin (1981). As discussed earlier, Hamblin acknowledges the under functioning of pastoral care, while Calvert explains there are seven ages of pastoral care which have developed over the last fifty years. These are pastoral care as 'control'; as 'individual need'; as 'group need'; the 'pastoral curriculum'; for 'implementation of the National Curriculum'; for 'learning' and for 'the wider workforce and the Every Child Matters agenda', something Power also picks up on in less detail, (Calvert, 1996, p 270-274).

It seems evident that the role of the form tutor, no matter how many substantial changes it goes through, one part which remains vital and is agreed upon is the development of the pupils' well-being, (Rees, 2010, cited in Dillon & Maguire, 2011). This opinion of "personal development" dealt with by Marland and Rogers (2004) is something that is also picked up on by Keith Blackburn in Perspectives on Pastoral Care, describing "a new role created for teachers in secondary schools whose chief emphasis was knowing individual pupils", (Blackburn, cited in Best et al, p.56).

Linking many of the writings is this notion of the academic and the pastoral working together instead of against each other. Best and fellow writers indicate in Perspective on Pastoral Care, that as far back as 1980 there is clear deliberation over the idea of segregating the pastoral curriculum from academic as a questionable act and something that the 'great debate in education' should have picked up on but failed to so, (Best et al, 1980, p(xi)). Chris Watkins suggests that "headmasters and teachers should ensure that pastoral care in schools embodies a healthy balance between challenge and support for pupils", (Best et al, 1995, p.304) The division of PSHE curriculum devoted to either welfare of pupils or their academic achievement is nonsense, as the focus on providing for personal growth and achievement together is a better framework for success, (Standish et al. 2006, cited in Dillon and Maguire 2011) something for which Watkins (1981) and Powers (1996) agree on.

Referring back to the original question posed, I feel it can be concluded that the form tutor is truly central to aiding in the 'personal development' of pupils in both wellbeing and academic attainment, (Blackburn, cited in Best et al, 1980, p.58). It seems a common agreement that the duty of the form tutor is to know the pupils as individuals and aid them in their 'personal development' of these areas. It is also evident that the academic side of education is improved by such topics taught in PSHE as discovered by Ofsted during their inspections, (Ofsted, 2010). However, it is beneficial and works better if there is a structured programme in place to work to. Unfortunately there is no easy answer to what constitutes an agreed pastoral curriculum. Everyone seems to have similar ideas about what should and should not be included; however there are too many inconsistent ideas to make a refined structure as yet, (Calvert, 1996, p.268).