Oakham School Deputy Head (Pastoral) Sarah Gomm discusses wellbeing and pastoral learning and the Rutland school’s recently introduced connected curriculum

From workshops with expert speakers and dedicated lesson time to discuss wellbeing, pastoral learning and care have become Oakham School’s key focuses as part of its recently introduced connected curriculum.

Pastoral care is far more important than anything else we teach children in school. I speak to a lot of parents, I teach Chemistry and I’m a big believer in all of the wonderful things we offer at Oakham School but, while exam results and academia are important, you can probably go through school without understanding covalent bonding, but you absolutely can’t go through life without knowing how to look after your wellbeing.

Pastoral care is at the core of everything we do, and we have to get this right to ensure that our children can enjoy life in and beyond the classroom and so that they can flourish. 

If you’re feeling in a good place and your mental and physical wellbeing are robust, we know that you’re more ready to learn. There’s a significant link between academic resilience and personal resilience, so if you’re in a state of mind where you’re happy and healthy, your ability to learn and achieve will be significantly higher.

Oakham School on wellbeing in action
Helping young people to develop their own pastoral wellbeing is vital, both for school and the journey beyond

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing falls into many different facets. Pastoral care is focused on what people do to you – which could be your parents, your teachers or your peers – and anything that you are on the receiving end of. It is also about the actions that you do to help your friends. 

Pastoral learning is much more focused on learning to care for yourself. This looks at self-care, where pupils are developing their understanding of what they can do to self-regulate their emotions and to ensure that their mental and physical wellbeing are in good shape. Topics such as consent, equality and diversity and how to manage your mortgage are also key skills that young people need to learn.

We are very mindful to teach pupils how to build resilience and the skills they need to develop their own pastoral wellbeing. It’s also important that they understand why pastoral care and pastoral learning matter, so that when they leave us they have good knowledge of themselves and what they need to do to keep both mentally and physically in shape.

Our connected curriculum

The introduction of our connected curriculum means that pastoral learning will be taught across Oakham School to all of our pupils during lesson time by specialist staff. The additional class time will allow us to really focus on wellbeing and make time for these hugely important lessons. It supports our existing tutorial programme and the work our excellent Housemasters and Housemistresses do.

There are some pupils who flourish when they are busy and there are others who may struggle to balance things in the same way. Our role is to help each of our pupils find what the right level of busyness is for them so that they can enjoy themselves without feeling overly pressured or losing the joy in what they are doing. 

Oakham School oakham.rutland.sch.uk

Further reading: Natasha Devon on navigating teenage years