SHSK Thinks


February 2023

Supporting students post-pandemic

Liz Bedford, Pastoral Deputy Head

The pandemic may seem in the past but, pastorally, we are still seeing the echoes of it in the social and personal development of some of the students. Therefore, we thought it might be helpful to share what we are observing and how we are supporting the students in continuing to move forward.

Broadly speaking there are two areas we are focusing on right now:

A smaller than pre-pandemic comfort zone

We are seeing a greater number of students who are worried by the prospect of new situations and who are less confident in chatting to people they don’t know. Allied with this is a greater sense of being disconcerted if anything happens that pushes them beyond their comfort zone. We have added Activities Week for Year 5–Lower Sixth (excluding Year 11) to help students to challenge themselves through a range of fun activities. I would also highlight the opportunities for work with other OX14 schools such as Oxbridge Club, academic mentoring and the Monday evening clubs that are happening with Abingdon School as chances to counter this tendency to avoid perceived risk.

A lower tolerance for others’ behaviour/lower confidence in friendships

Linked to the physical isolation of lockdown, some students are very used to relationships on their own terms and are less able to handle difference and the changing nature of relationships. In addition to our existing extensive programme on friendship and healthy relationships, we encourage the students to use the TeenTips website for advice. To support parents in supporting their children we have invited Dr Tara Porter into school. As you may know, Dr Porter is a clinical psychologist and author of ‘You Don’t Understand Me’, her book which focusses on adolescent girls and their development. We are very excited about her visit on Wednesday 8 March and I would highly recommend that you come that evening to hear her speak about supporting a daughter through the teenage years and into young adulthood (please see Weekly Mailing notices for sign-up instructions).

Of course, the ‘TeenTips Wellbeing Hub’ is a fabulous resource for parents too. Dr Holyoak sent out the relevant links in the second Weekly Mailing of this term. You may well have seen the latest webinar about online safety by Karl Hopwood who is a nationally recognised expert. The next one is on personal safety in the teenage years – it sounds like it could be very helpful for anyone with a daughter in Years 7–11.

As you’d expect, we continue to explore, discuss and learn about the many cultures that our student community references. The Black Student Working Party has done excellent work recently and has delivered a wonderful assembly that explored culture, cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. This half of term it is the Year 11s turn to vote for a ‘Woman of the half term’. This student-led project will celebrate a group of inspirational women and role models and the whole school will then vote for St Helen’s ‘Woman of the Year’.

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group is open for anyone interested in joining so please do encourage your daughter if it is an area of interest.

I hope that has given you a glimpse into some of the themes that we are exploring at the moment within school. Hopefully, it might also prompt some useful conversations at home.

Liz Bedford, Pastoral Deputy Head

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