Acting Dean of Pastoral Care

 A Loreto Team Approach

At Loreto, our students’ learning is based on a holistic approach imbedded in the four FACE elements of our Student Growth Model. Students, teachers and parents are constantly reminded in conversations with each other that all four of these elements are equally important for a fully balanced life of a whole or wholesome person. The main pillar however which underpins all FACE elements is relationships. We are constantly reminded of the value and gift of good relationships.

Teaching through relationships is more than knowing your students. It is not about overfamiliar relationships between students and staff but it is about recognising the stories of students as well as that of their teachers. This approach embraces our identities, culture, interests and the stories we bring when teaching our subjects. It is sometimes this ‘package’ that helps students to identify better with their teachers, to be inspired by their stories, to connect intellectually with their discipline and to strive to achieve more than they themselves believe is possible.

Teaching through relationships could carry the student at times through the somewhat ‘hard’ part of obtaining formal knowledge to discover more of themselves and the connections between their thoughts, ideas and actions. When students are able to make these connections via “teaching through relationships,” they begin to see themselves as co-learners along with their teachers.

At Loreto we certainly put ‘teaching through relationships’ into practice. Within the framework of our vertical pastoral care system we cultivate quality relationships within each House community between students and their fellow students, and between students and their tutors. Through these day-to-day interactions and regular formal conversations a trust relationship develops between tutors and students and a space is created where students and teachers can be honest with themselves and ‘free’ to wrestle together with some big questions.

Every school has students who are exposed to a wide variety of overwhelming experiences such as feeling anxious before assessments and tasks, feeling overwhelmed in class when exposed to some learning experiences, peer pressure, bullying or the overuse or inappropriate use of social media. For some students these experiences could lead to social, emotional and academic difficulties which could interfere with their interpersonal relationships and learning. Recent neurobiological research has shown that all of the above experiences could diminish concentration, memory and organisational and language abilities of students which could ultimately affect their need to succeed in school, problems with academic performance, challenging behaviour and interpersonal relationships. Teaching through relationships however help to create the space where students can feel safe to reflect, receive feedback, to make positive connections with adults and their peers and to accept the responsibility for their own behaviour and learning.

This team approach enables ‘safe spaces’ to be created which fosters student growth and encourages individuals to acknowledge their best or to become their best. The teams consist of our tutors and advisors, who are all teachers, our Heads of House as well as the rest of the pastoral staff who carefully monitor student development, behaviour and achievements. The team most definitely includes the parents as well, as they form the other half of the partnership who work equally hard to nurture and embrace opportunities to help their daughters to develop into unique, responsible and balanced individuals. These relationships between tutors, students and parents create the ‘safety net’ around our students to help them learn, grow and become the members of our beautiful Loreto community and beyond. 

As our students and staff approach the last part of this term and year, they are regularly invited to stop and reflect on the year that was, and put goals and plans in place to make the coming year a better, more fulfilling one. May we all embrace this opportunity to put these plans into action in the year ahead and, together with all our parents, continue to take a team approach that makes learning at Loreto effective and more meaningful.

 

Mrs Elsa Vink

Acting Dean of Pastoral Care