All Downsend children are unique, possessing their own blend of skills and individual qualities. In order to help them to become independent and self-reliant learners, it is vital that they have a range of people to turn to for guidance.
All pupils are members of a form; the Form Tutor is responsible for providing support and monitoring a pupil’s academic and pastoral needs. Heads of Year oversee the pastoral development of pupils, but the Form Tutor is always the first port of call and is happy to talk to parents about any particular worries or concerns, as they know the children best and see them most frequently.
The pastoral team from each Year Group meet weekly to discuss academic and social issues. The Heads of Year, the Heads of Lower and Upper School and the Headmaster are approachable at all times.
Pastoral Care in the Lower School
Each child in Years 2 & 3 has a Form Teacher who takes them for the majority of their timetabled day, supported by a Teaching Assistant. From Year 4, the children are set for the core academic lessons and begin to experience an increasing number of subject specialist teachers. In Year 5, the Form Tutor continues to have responsibility for the pastoral care of their class, but the children are now taught by subject specialists throughout the day.
The day begins with a short form time; once a week the class has an extended Circle Time to raise any issues and discuss achievements, concerns and current problems.
Playtime is well-supervised and is kept as relaxing and fun as possible. There are a variety of toys for the children to play with in separate playgrounds, split into age-specific zones for different types of play, including a gentle play area, a trim-trail area and a quiet area. The children are also encouraged to bring in a small toy.
Our aim is to encourage the children in all that they do and effort and good behaviour is rewarded with a system of stars, merits and house points.
Pastoral Care in the Upper School
The Upper School is fully co-educational with a balance of male and female staff. Form Tutors hold individual tutorials with the pupils, at least termly, to discuss social and academic issues and set targets. Further tutorials are always available if a child wishes to discuss any aspects relating to progress.
The tutor/pupil relationship is pivotal to a child’s success. Tutors set clear guidelines, but the approach is friendly and informal and we pride ourselves on the relationships between the staff and children.
The Upper School meets for assemblies three times a week and a weekly extended form period to discuss current affairs and forthcoming school events. Assemblies are led by the Head of School and other senior staff and reflect contemporary issues and the changing needs of the older children. Upper School girls also meet regularly with the Head of Girls’ Pastoral Care to discuss relevant issues or concerns.
A ‘study buddy’ system, where Year 8 children mentor Year 6 students and Year 7 students support Year 5 children, is also well established. As well as providing support for younger children, this mentoring role helps the older children to develop their social skills and to reflect on the needs of others.
Year 8 pupils may become House or School Prefects. If appointed, they will have various responsibilities within the Upper School and help promote the ethos and character of the school.