(From The Oundelian, published June 2021)
The Pupil Pastoral Forum, set up by ex-Heads of School, Jack Campbell and Tara Boyle, in connection with the Head and ex-Head of Learning for Life Miss Dawes, introduces itself as a major step forward for the School, encouraging expression of opinion, feedback to senior management and, most importantly, encouraging dialogue between anyone with any agenda within the School community.
This said, understandably a new initiative that promises change will be met with some confusion, speculation and scepticism.
I spoke with Jack and Tara, in order to get a feel for how the Pupil Pastoral Forum is organised, what its aims are and what it stands for.
The aim of the Pupil Pastoral Forum is to bring about changes within the School on issues and matters that are important to pupils – which are not just important for us now but also significant in the wider world.
The Pupil Pastoral Forum consists of paired Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth ambassadors, each pair representing a different area of concern within the pupil body.Find out more about Pastoral Care at Oundle
Jack says that having a body of pupils to fix problems within is something we feel is really important. He says that whilst the School has done a lot, as a system, to counter inequality… at the end of the day we are a School of pupils. Therefore there are some issues about pupils, for pupils that need to be fixed by pupils.
The Pupil Pastoral Forum consists of paired Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth ambassadors, each pair representing a different area of concern within the pupil body. What is the role of an ambassador?
Tara says that ambassadors are a hugely important part of the pupil forum because they oversee events and societies with an aim to get things going in a ‘creative’ way, in order to start making the change that they care so much about. Tara also describes this as an important job because it allows representatives of the pupil body to ‘feed back to me, Jack and Miss Dawes and eventually to the senior leadership team’. Thus, an ambassador acts as a middle man between pupils and the senior leadership team. This is really important because ‘with good communication between those two bodies, we can actually make long-term change.’
Jack says that firm changes made by the Pupil Pastoral Forum will be attributable to two things, the fact that the PPF is pupil-started, pupil-led and pupil-run and the fact that this will be with the balance of being directly plugged into senior leadership. He concludes by stating that there hasn’t been anything as blatant and ambitious as this Forum before, due to the fact that it is administrative in nature and that it will ‘oversee and secure change’.
Tara explains that we are not looking for short-term fixes and that the Pupil Pastoral Forum very much has long-term goals in mind. Examples of this include focus on education about, for example, racism and gender equality, working closely with teachers and working closely with Lower Years. Additionally, Lower Sixth ambassadors will continue their role into the Upper Sixth, in order to ‘help keep the legacy going’.
The idea of having ambassadors in the Upper Years is that they will lead by example and hence display the values of the School in a way that the younger years will look up to. Jack says that including the Lower Years is important because in terms of education, the lower down the School we go, the more effective it will be and the more informative the years will become. He says that the change that needs to happen has to start as early as possible because it will have a much greater and much more felt effect.
Tara explains that the PPF is focused on dialogue and thus if a pupil needs help then they should get in touch with the ambassadors who have been chosen on the basis of being ‘trustworthy and approachable people’. Whether you have an idea or whether you want to help but don’t know what you can do, you should drop the ambassadors an email or Teams message; it can be really casual. The email addresses of the ambassadors are posted on email and Instagram.
Jack says that a sense of community is something we’d love to see and he hopes that it makes a lasting impression. He realises that this is a new thing that hasn’t been tried and hasn’t been tested and that restricting the first few months of the Forum’s life in order to be COVID compliant has challenged its effectiveness. This said, he feels that the PPF will ‘weather the storm’ and come out the other side even stronger.
Tara and Jack say ‘we hope that this makes some change’. They aim to start by helping a small number of pupils but ultimately want the Forum to grow and eventually help a much larger number of people. They understand that change is hard and often people can be wary and scared of what it will bring about, but they think that once people can see that things are happening, then they will start to believe in it. Their main aim is that we hope that it does help people and that there will be lasting confidence in this pupil-run system for pastoral issues.