Plus ça change … challenge and continuity in lockdown pastoral care

Plus ça change … challenge and continuity in lockdown pastoral care

The five weeks of the Summer Term thus far have seen a significant number of pastoral interventions that have allowed us to stay in touch with all our students and to provide support and advice where it is needed, writes Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan.

Form tutors have been meeting their tutees for online bespoke tutorial sessions; in these, it has been great to see how creative the boys are being in dealing with the challenges of lockdown, and I know that they have enjoyed seeing each other, as well as their tutor. Alongside this, the morning registration process that we have set up has helped our students establish a good routine and allowed us to pick up on issues speedily and respond to them. It is right that the boys feel that their queries are responded to quickly, and I am pleased that we have been able to do so. In addition to bringing these two major areas online, there have been other pastoral interventions involving individual boys.

One of the realities of the current situation, of course, is that everyone’s experience of the lockdown is different: some of our boys are sharing PCs, others have their own; some are fasting, some aren’t; some have families that have not been badly affected by Covid-19, while for some of you the opposite is definitely the case. Our aim in pastoral sessions is to help the boys get through whatever the situation is for them and know that while we may currently be remote physically, we are not remote in a wider sense, as we can still do many things to help those who need assistance.

It is definitely worth adding one thing: we are a school and the people who work here have made that choice because we want to help young people. Therefore, seeing our students in online tutorials, knowing that they are well and trying to support them is not our ‘new normal’…it is very much our ‘normal normal’ – it’s what we do every day! We want to maintain this, whatever the weeks ahead may bring. We do so in the knowledge that our work, alongside that of all other key workers, can help our country get through the crisis and assist our students and their families in this challenging period.

While the coronavirus has had a profound impact on our lives, it is important to think ahead to the future and the world beyond the current situation – and that’s exactly what PDT sessions will be doing in the next half-term. Boys in some year groups will be undertaking research projects which seek to allow them to combine their knowledge with research skills in a way that will be necessary in their future careers.

Every societal problem can be seen as a problem to be resolved. And in response to the coronavirus, people in various sectors will be seeking answers to the question What should we do if there were to be another global pandemic like this one? Every profession needs new ideas, and in the next 5-10 years every current QE student will potentially be starting his career. So, it is important that they think widely and think ‘big’ about the careers they are interested in. They could perhaps link those thoughts to the current situation, according to their own abilities, interests and aspirations. Here are a few sector-specific pointers and topics for them to ponder:

  • Prospective scientists – vaccines and treatments
  • Prospective computer scientists – creating apps and other programs which allow a country to track the spread of a pandemic
  • Prospective engineers – setting up a building for the best social distancing
  • Prospective teachers – how best to provide learning through online platforms
  • Prospective economists – what a future government should do to protect its economy
  • Prospective lawyers and politicians – the laws a government should enact and how to lead in a political crisis

All the boys need to think positively about the future and to be part a community that develops and shares ideas; every global leader, every CEO, every entrepreneur and every innovator had to start somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ was usually their home or their school where they learned, thought, reflected and then came up with new ideas. In undertaking a research project, that is what we want the boys to be doing in the weeks to come. We hope that they learn much and we will look forward to hearing about their findings.