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Pastoral Support Network
Research – Evaluation
The PSN (Pastoral Support Network) was set up in November 2012, by Kamalasura and Anna Lacy, both working as mentors at Fairchildes Primary School in New Addington, Croydon. This was in response to the LA withdrawing funding for the EIP (Education in Partnership) programme in Croydon resulting in the established networks disbanding and therefore support for mentors in the borough - including access to qualified supervision - ending.
After discussion with many colleagues in the borough it became clear that there was still a need for a supportive forum to facilitate the sharing of good practice, gain an awareness of agencies working in the borough, (what they can offer our families, referral process, and when programmes / funding are ending), promote continued professional development, as well as access qualified supervision. It was also acknowledged that as times had changed within education many people working pastorally had different job titles, so there was a clear need for a more inclusive title for any new venture.
Jointly the mentors put together a proposal to create a new network for all those working in a pastoral role in Croydon educational settings, including PRU’s. With the support of their Head Teacher and Inclusion Manager, they were able to reflect on and evaluate the previous network. One of the clear messages coming from colleagues was the need to be flexible with meetings as some could only attend mornings and others only afternoons (even split); one of the main reasons for the low attendance of the old network was colleagues not being released to attend as they were asked to cover classes, deliver reading support etc.
A suggestion was put forward to have meetings both a.m. and p.m. Senior management agreed to release both mentors one day per half term to facilitate the network, enabling meetings to be held both morning and afternoon to meet the expressed need.
The original outline for the network was to have speakers alternate through the year so that they attend both a.m. and p.m. meetings, however this proved to be too difficult to arrange with organisations.
A page was created on Fronter to enable all members of the PSN to access resources, minutes of all meetings and information from any speakers who attended. The Fronter page contains a list of all members contact details, a forum for open discussion, as well as lists of useful websites and resources. All of which facilitate the sharing of good practice and a sense of cohesion.
Evaluating the old network and listening to colleagues, it became clear that line management needed a clearer understanding of the pressures on pastoral staff and the impact of working with those with complex needs can have on their effectiveness, this in turn highlighted the need for supervision which is automatically available to other professionals in the borough working closely with challenging families and young people and had been a contractual clause in the original mentoring job description. .
The SENCO / Inclusion Manager for Fairchildes Primary School promoted the PSN at the SENCO forum via a leaflet which was devised by Kamalasura, however this didn’t prove to be as effective as hoped.
Judith Lunnon, SEN co-ordinator for Croydon Council, offered her support and advice to promote the PSN as well; through this contact Kamalasura and Anna attended the SENCO forum to explain the rationale of the network, the benefits open to colleagues and individual educational settings, and the need for and benefits of supervision.
As the PSN became better known Kamalasura and Anna were invited to speak at The Emotional Health Matters Conference hosted by Croydon Council; as a result of this several schools asked to have colleagues added to the members list.
Organisations who have attended PSN meetings
Initially speakers’ were from organisations that Anna and Kamalasura had worked with in the past. Members of the PSN were encouraged to recommend services and agencies they had found helpful or new projects they were aware of that were starting up.
The following agencies / organisations have all attended meetings enabling members to create contacts for the future:
Lives not Knives, Porchlight, The School Nurse Service, Leap Confronting Conflict, Croydon Food bank, Family Resilience Service, Stop It Now! Family Navigator service, Roots of Empathy, Croydon Youth Forest Schools, Depression Alliance, Healthy Minds, CRISS Team, Young Carers Project, NSPCC, Beat Bullying, Women’s Aid, Salvation Army, Family Justice Service, Early Help Advisors.
After these agencies / organisations attended the PSN meetings, we at Fairchildes have taken up the services on offer from Salvation Army (Food Bank and Camp / holiday provision, over 20 families), Porchlight (8 families), Family Navigators (3 families ), Young Carers (3 families), NSPCC (3 families)
Many of the projects are time limited due to funding restrictions; it can be challenging to stay well-informed of these, the PSN addresses this by keeping up-to- date information on the dedicated Fronter page.
Visiting speakers are invaluable.
Great to hear the speakers and learn about what is available.
Continue with informative / inspirational speakers.
Speakers always open my eyes to new ideas and what is available in the local area.
QUOTES FROM THE PSN FEEDBACK
Initially numbers were quite low, comprising of members of the previous mentoring network and being split between two meetings. By promoting it through the SENCO Forum and the Emotional Wellbeing Conference numbers are beginning to increase. As with any new venture it takes time to imbed itself within its setting. Numbers have been steadily increasing from four at each meeting to eight at each meeting.
Out of the 114 schools in Croydon we currently have 12 from schools / PRU’s in regular attendance, for the academic year 2013-2014 representatives from the following schools have attended meetings:
Rowdown Primary, Applegarth STEP Academy, Castlehill Academy, NBEC, Oasis Academy Shirley Park, David Livingston STEP Academy, Phil Edward PRU, Harris Academy Benson, St Josephs Inf, St Josephs Jnr, Riddlesdown Collegiate, Purley Oaks Primary, Gonville Academy.
Work is still needed to improve attendance, targeting schools that have not attended previously, or have only attended one meeting.
In the next academic year the PSN facilitators plan to:
- encourage regular attendance by those who have attended this year,
- encourage more members to take up the opportunity for Supervision
- increase number of schools regularly attending
- increase number of colleagues sharing their good practice through workshops and talks
This will be achieved by:
- continuing to promote the PSN at Local Authority events and the Local Authority weekly bulletin for all educational colleagues to be aware of the meetings
- continue to engage with and encourage outside agencies to attend meetings.
Supervision provides a regular space to reflect upon the content and process of your work, enabling you to:
- Develop understanding and skills within your role
- Receive information and an alternative perspective concerning your work
- Be validated and supported both as a person and as a worker
- Ensure that as a person and as a worker you are not left to carry unnecessary difficulties, problems and projections alone
- Have space to explore and express personal distress, transference or counter-transference that may be brought up by the work
Access to qualified supervision is imperative when dealing with complex family situations, practitioners and their line managers need to recognise this need and be open to reflecting on their work with families.
When mentors were first introduced to Croydon supervision was a contractual commitment, however when the EIP ceased to exist supervision became the responsibility of individual schools to pay for, numbers immediately dropped to just 6 within a group setting. This dropped again to just 4.
Supervision is a valuable aspect of pastoral support and this is reflected in the Inclusion Manager allocating funding for a counsellor for every meeting, enabling the PSN to offer 10 free supervision slots which are open to those attending either meeting.
Whilst numbers for this service were low to begin with (only two educational establishments taking up the offer) there has been a steady increase with five educational establishments now taking part; more work is needed to increase this further. Supervision is something that is discussed regularly at meetings helping to clarify what it is and isn’t for members and to encourage them to reflect on their practice.
A few colleagues have had a “taster” session with the PSN Supervisor to relieve some of their anxiety around Supervision; Michelle (the supervisor) has spoken at meetings to explain what supervision is and is not and this is something that will happen at the beginning of each academic year.
The advice the PSN has been given by Judith Lennon and Denise Dyer regarding members having regular supervision is that senior management need to have a clearer understand of what Supervision is and how it can support their practitioners in their roles. It is hoped that this will now be raised at the Heads Breakfast Meeting next academic year.
It is our professional responsibility to access supervision.
Love and NEED Supervision.
QUOTES FROM THE PSN FEEDBACK
Sharing Good Practice
Through our meetings we have encouraged and invited several of the PSN members to talk / demonstrate their own good practice and new skills. We have had talks and workshops on:-
- Anger Management
- Play Therapy
- Drawing and Talking
- Nurture Groups
- Mental Health
Good ways to share practice.
Great to meet and share discussions with others in the role, it is very helpful to me.
Discussions and sharing good practice is very helpful, as I’m training to be a mentor.
Having more time for general discussion would be good.
QUOTES FROM THE PSN FEEDBACK
A valuable service – providing support and advice.
I have enjoyed meeting other mentors and sharing experiences.
Information on courses that have helped me succeed in my role.
Keep up the meetings its great!
The meetings have been really interesting and supportive.
FURTHER QUOTES FROM PSN FEEDBACK