At NAC, we are intentional and deliberate in equipping our students with social and emotional abilities that will stand each child in good stead for the future.
We explicitly teach skills, purposefully model qualities and mindfully nurture our students’ development so that they will become resilient, connected and positive, setting them on a path to success. We call this our whole-school Pastoral Care framework, and we are proud of the way it interplays with our ‘whole child’ learning approach.
Our approach is backed by evidence
Positive social and emotional learning programs that are woven into the curriculum are shown to bring about improved academic success, positive attitudes, more trust and respect for teachers, improved participation in class*.
At NAC, students are given skills and resources that assist in preventing destructive behaviours, and instead, give them a solid foundation for a successful life. We agree with Professor Arthur Costa, who says we need to prepare students ‘not just for a life of tests but for the test of life.’
What we aim for
Qualities that are present in a successful, resilient and happy person** include:
- Positive Emotions – such as joy, peace, gratitude, hope and love, shown to trigger an upward spiral.
- Engagement – becoming fully immersed in a situation, task, or project, experiencing a state of flow.
- Relationships – having meaningful, positive interactions and friendships with others.
- Meaning – belonging to and serving something bigger than themselves.
- Accomplishment – aiming to master a skill or achieve a valuable goal.
Two of these qualities, ‘engagement’ and ‘accomplishment’ are part of our ‘whole child’ approach to learning at NAC. The other three are brought out in our ‘whole school’ pastoral care model: the two approaches are complementary and interdependent.
How does it work?
Parents may ask how ‘relationships’, ‘meaning’ and ‘positive emotions’ can become interwoven in the curriculum. Our answer is this: in many ways.
Our structured Homeroom program, which gathers students in multi-age care groups, is where many of our pastoral care activities take place. Homeroom teachers facilitate group-building and individual growth through sessions such as ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ and ‘Friday Funday’.
We intentionally use positive language that becomes part of our school’s narrative. Words have power; the right words form positive culture and expectations and help us to establish our school community in its faith values and celebrate students’ creativity and efforts at all levels.
People who can help
We also encourage students, and families to talk to their Year Co-ordinators and homeroom facilitators, as well as the pastoral care staff, counsellor and school psychologist, where needed. However, pastoral care does not only come from these members of staff. Every teacher and support person in the school is trained and encouraged in our pastoral care principles, which are embedded in our learning philosophy.
Students who come from a Defence Forces background, or who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander have specialised, dedicated advocates and mentors, who are active in their efforts to create a stable, supportive environment for these particular student communities. As well, our Learning Support Staff and School Counsellor (an experienced clinical psychologist) provide extra support for all students.
* Cross, D, Erceg, E., & Thompson, S. (2014). Evidence for Practice: A Comprehensive Guide to the Implementation of Friendly Schools Plus. Victoria, Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education.
** According to Dr Martin Seligman’s PERMA Theory