Present purpose and future focus

Present purpose and future focus

As teachers and families grapple with the challenges of a second lockdown, the importance of pastoral care for all QE boys remains undiminished, reports Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan.

“Our aim is to look after the boys and provide the same level of pastoral care that we would were they to be physically on the School site. The focus is very much on ‘here today, looking at tomorrow’ – thinking positively about strategies to deal with the situation at hand, but also looking at the world beyond Covid (as we must!), ensuring that all the boys keep their sights fixed on their future and on learning about the world around them.”

The pastoral sessions held each week amount to more than three hours of contact time with tutors. These allow a range of issues to be discussed, as well as providing the boys with an opportunity to work in a slightly less formal way with their form-mates and have the human contact that is so important at this time, says Mr Ryan.

The sessions set out below make up the three hours:

  • Every day, pupils have morning session with form tutors via Microsoft Teams. The tutors thus help to ease boys into their routine, dealing with any issues that arise (such as their wellbeing, or IT problems) and generally getting the day off to a positive start;
  • Afternoon sessions are really important, too, adds Mr Ryan. Personal Development Time (PDT) occurs weekly and involves students addressing a range of issues in this half-term;
  • Weekly discussion sessions have been taking place. “With all that has been happening in America, there have been lots of live issues to consider, alongside other interesting, and sometimes controversial, topics, such as vaccination priorities or the effects of leaving the EU.”;
  • Bespoke tutorials have been taking place since the start of term, allowing tutors to meet boys in smaller groups and to give pupils personalised advice, as well as enabling discussions about ways in which the boys can support each other;
  • Peer mentoring has continued as normal, with pupils meeting online, and feedback being forwarded to Heads of Year and form tutors.

If parents have any concerns that they would like to discuss with their son’s form tutor or Head of Year, they should contact

Mr Ryan highlighted some of the pastoral activities that have been taking place across the year groups. For Year 7, in recognition of boys’ increased time spent online during lockdown, a remote PDT session on eSafety was brought forward in the programme. Keeping boys safe and healthy has also been to the fore in Year 8, where form tutors have been asked to encourage pupils to engage in extra-curricular activities away from their screens in order to help with their mental health. Many boys have responded, taking part in activities such as exercise, meditation, reading and cooking.

The momentous events taking place across the Atlantic have not gone unnoticed. Year 8 had a PDT lesson on Getting the scoop, teaching pupils how to analyse their online sources of global news, with a focus on the US election. PDT lessons in Year 10 are taking place on democracy, media and the law, and the boys are also enjoying taking part in discussion sessions on topical events such as President Biden’s inauguration and on the interplay between politicians and the media. “There have been some good discussions on whether Twitter was right to ban Trump from using their platform,” says Mr Ryan.

On Mondays, Year 9 boys are discussing their GCSE options and looking at what particular skills are suited to which subject and future careers. This activity is closely linked to the newly introduced Collaborative careers task that the boys are completing. This task is focused on building a variety of skills – teamwork skills, in particular – and requires the boys to devise a way of working together in teams of eight outside lesson time. “It is a unique challenge that has been made possible due to the remote nature of our learning now,” adds Mr Ryan.

The Sixth Form also has its sights set on life after QE: Year 12 had three sessions of remote vertical tutoring from their counterparts in Year 13 to provide them with further support. This has involved using eQE’s forums function, with the Year 12s asking questions about university, and Year 13s who applied for the same degree subjects responding.

In another example of how the School’s investment in IT to facilitate independent learning has paid off, form tutors have reported how they much they have appreciated being able to use the ‘breakout’ function of MS Teams to split the boys into small groups, both to facilitate discussions of particular points by the boys and so that they can more easily catch up with members of the form. “Boys and tutors enjoy interacting with each other in these smaller groups, as they provide an opportunity to see, and speak to, each other more easily,” says Mr Ryan.

Head of Year 7 Tom Harrison pre-recorded one remote assembly, in which he advised Year 7 boys on ways to remain healthy and organised in the current situation, while in Chemistry teacher Tom Batchelor’s Year 7 Leicester form, the form captain and deputy have been creating PowerPoint presentations which they have used to lead weekly quizzes and give news summaries via MS Teams.