Pastoral Care in Sixth Form
We are often asked how we balance high academic expectations and achievement in the Sixth Form with pastoral support and care. The answer is simple: we do not believe that excellent academic outcomes come at the expense of the wellbeing of pupils, or that providing excellent pastoral care somehow diminishes academic outcomes. There is no ‘balancing act’ because there is no sliding scale with pastoral care at one end and academic excellence at the other.
In the STAHS Sixth Form, pastoral care and academic excellence are not competing factors – they are two sides of the same coin. We recognise that the students most able to pursue their educational ambitions, take calculated academic risks and achieve top outcomes are those who feel happy, secure and supported both at home and at school. This is why we take our responsibilities to provide nurturing support seriously, alongside providing an environment where students are given the freedom and independence to make – and take responsibility for – their own choices.
Somewhat unusually for a day school, STAHS operates a House system very similar to that which is offered at the best boarding schools. All students are in one of four Houses, and the Houses really are like families within the School. The House Tutor, Assistant Housemistress and Housemistress are fundamental characters in a STAHS pupil’s life. Additionally, Sixth Formers have the support of the Head of Sixth Form, Assistant Head of Sixth Form and the rest of the Sixth Form Team. These staff have the time and structure to really get to know each student as an individual. They understand her strengths and areas for development, advocate on her behalf, push her when she needs a push, celebrate her successes and encourage her when things don’t go to plan.
We know that resilience in the face of set-backs, self-belief and confidence, and the ability to understand one’s own and other’s’ emotional and mental health needs are essential skills for a happy and successful adulthood. We also know that these skills are not necessarily innate, but can be learned. It takes time, excellent modelling of behaviours, and a deep and School-wide commitment to pastoral care and character education.
STAHS makes this commitment to our Sixth Form students, and the proof is in the end product: every year, our leavers enter the world of university and work as settled, calm, enthusiastic and self-possessed young adults ready to take on the world. They know their own minds, know how to work with and understand others, and want to leave a positive mark on their world. Most importantly, they leave with the confidence that they can and will do just that.