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Promoting student welfare in boarding schools

Vincent Paget

February 18, 2019

Promoting student welfare in schools involves caring for and encouraging students' mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.Good policies are step one, but having easy access to up-to-the-minute information is what allows pastoral decisions to reflect what a pupil needs today. Using technology, like Boardingware, to record key pastoral information means school staff can be aware of any changes immediately and adapt to provide the most appropriate level of care.What can boarding schools do to promote student welfare?

1) Sharing Information And Providing An Ear

At-risk students need someone they feel comfortable talking to, especially in the absence of their family and friends from home. Some schools provide fully-trained counsellors on campus, as well as teaching and house staff who monitor small groups.As part of their anti-bullying programs, some schools have implemented student mentoring with 'big brother' and 'big sister' roles for older pupils. Not only do they look out for younger students, they also provide an ear when other pupils need someone to talk to and can provide advice through the eyes of someone who has been there themselves.A key requirement for providing that level of care is ensuring your boarding staff are fully connected to each other by sharing information and having easy access to it. Features like Boardingware's End of Shift report is one way of ensuring key observations are passed on. With the easy-to-access staff app, teachers can see at a glance what's happened recently, check significant pastoral events or keep tabs on watchlist pupils.

Ensure pupils of any ages have someone to talk to, to promote student welfare.
Promote student welfare by ensuring pupils of any age have someone they feel comfortable talking to.

2) Helping Boarders Mix With Like-minded Friends

Every good school takes its responsibility to help students mix and make friends seriously. However, it's a bigger task at a boarding school where they're with the same people through the school day and into the evening or weekends.Organising events and social activities amongst a variety of year groups promote a sense of school community. A sense of belonging can combat feelings of loneliness and promote new friendships, helping students find their place and widening the number of people they may be able to talk to if they have a problem.Assembling a student council allows their voices and opinions to be heard, with a recognised forum for feedback and discussion, that can inform pastoral policies.Strategies for ensuring pupils meet others with similar interests or backgrounds can be strengthened when pastoral information is easily accessible. Boardingware's facility to record a pupil's extra-curricular attendance, for example, can help staff match students who have similar interests in the hope that a friendship will form.

3) Comfortable Boarding Facilities

Teenagers, in particular, can struggle to get a good night's sleep.

Comfortable sofas with cushions or beanbags go a long way to making an environment more homely. As well as comfortable, the boarding environment should be functional and well-equipped, with adequate heating and enough facilities for the number of boarders.Helping students get adequate sleep is an important responsibility for boarding schools and not one that's necessarily easy. Teenagers, in particular, can struggle to get a good night's sleep. They produce the sleep hormone, melatonin, much later in the evening than younger children, causing them to feel alert when it's time for bed, according to research from the National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US).To promote sleep, adjusting lighting as well as supplying chamomile tea and lavender spray come recommended by a UK housemistress writing in The Guardian. She also educates students on the importance of sleep, especially around examination season, and involves students in making plans to get more rest.Ensuring healthy meals and foods are available ensures that a pupil's nutritional needs are met, preparing them for a day of study and extra-curricular activities. With some pupils entering boarding from other countries, it's also important that schools accommodate international menus and a range of dietary requirements to help their pupils feel welcome, supported and comfortable in their environment.

Student wellbeing can be maintained with healthy meals at boarding school.
Providing healthy meals is one-way boarding schools can prioritise student wellbeing.

4) Keeping Pupils Safe On Campus And On Leave

As well as ensuring a pupil's emotional and social needs are met, boarding schools have the added responsibility of ensuring the physical safety of students beyond the end of the teaching day. With pupils encouraged to attend extra-curricular and social activities, as well as take weekend leave when appropriate to visit friends and family, the school's duty of care extends past regular school hours.Having an easy-to-access system in place is one way to make this process as simple and effective as possible. Boardingware allows schools to require multiple staff and parents to give permission for leave, as well as define in which order requests should be made. Students can apply for leave themselves via the student app, and if appropriate can sign in and out of campus via kiosks or their phone.The Boardingware parent app promotes a unified approach to each student's safety, involving parents and staff in every decision.To learn more about how Boardingware can help your staff promote student welfare, view our free demo or book an appointment with a member of our team.

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Vincent Paget

Vincent Paget is an Operations Manager at Orah based in Auckland, New Zealand. He loves technology, organisation, nature and adventure sports, not necessarily in that order.

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