Happy children make better learners, says Catherine Arslan, Deputy Head, Pastoral at north London’s St. Anthony’s School for Boys. She tells us how the school achieves this.
With pupil wellbeing at the heart of everything they do, St. Anthony’s School for Boys is known for the exceptionally high quality of its pastoral care. Everybody at the school firmly believes that happy children are best placed to be successful learners and engaged members of the school community.
The first port of call for St. Anthony’s boys or parents when it comes to pastoral matters is usually the form tutor. Working alongside them to ensure closely monitored and tailor-made pastoral care is Head of Pastoral, Catherine Arslan.
“At St Anthony’s we take pride in the fact that we know every pupil: our small class sizes and the expertise of our staff ensure that each and every one of our boys is known and valued as an individual,” says Catherine. “It matters to us very much that our pupils are happy. And resilient and self-aware enough to recognise when they are not, and to ask for help. Our carefully structured pastoral care system, and the dedicated and highly skilled staff with key pastoral responsibilities, mean that pupil wellbeing and welfare is always top of our priority list.”
A rewards system celebrates the boys’ achievements and encourages them to continuously strengthen the attitudes, skills and behaviours which underpin their educational achievement and personal development. “We reward hard work, perseverance, initiative, progress in learning, achievement (academic, practical, athletic, creative), good conduct, kindness and consideration of others. Our boys succeed when they persevere in the face of challenges, use their initiative, take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour, help each other to learn, and contribute to the respectful, purposeful and responsible ethos of St. Anthony’s School for Boys,” Catherine explains.
A School Council, consisting of pupils from Years 4 and 8, enables boys to experience positions of responsibility and gives them the opportunity to really contribute to school matters. School Councillors are elected by their class at the beginning of each academic year: candidates are asked to ‘pitch’ to their classmates, giving an account of why they believe they would make a good representative. Two children from each class are elected, a Form Captain and a Vice Captain. The representatives then have the task of gathering views and ideas from their class and presenting them in meetings with the Head Boy team and Deputy Head, Pastoral.
“School Council meetings are spirited gatherings full of great ideas, fun and much debate!” reveals Catherine. So far this year, ideas brought to the Headmaster’s office have ranged from the quirky school vending machines to additional table tennis tables and a ‘Capturing Nature’ photography competition. “Certain topics always prompt great discussion: food (something the children have plenty of ideas about!); clubs (some great ideas are put forward) and charity ideas (it is always pleasing to hear that the children are engaged with the needs of others),” Catherine adds. School Council meetings are minuted and ideas and views are shared with the relevant staff member or department for consideration. Often ideas are added to the agenda for discussion in the weekly Senior Leadership Team meetings.
In conclusion, Catherine tells us: “We are passionate about providing our pupils with the academic skills needed for the challenges ahead, but we are equally aware that this needs to be balanced by the raising of emotionally aware, resilient young men, who display the humility, empathy and emotional intelligence which complement academic success.”
For admissions enquiries, call 020 7435 3597. St Anthony’s School, 90 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, NW3 (stanthonysprep.org.uk)