Pastoral Care and Student Affairs Team - St Andrew's College

Pastoral Care and Student Affairs Team

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Pastoral Care and Student Affairs Team

With the Term now well under way, the Pastoral Care team and Student Affairs Prefects have been busy promoting the weekly Pastoral Care themes and initiatives across the school.

In the last two weeks, Tutor periods and House meetings have been keen sites of discussion around “Better Andreans” and Social Media, Devices, and Communication. This has given staff and boys the opportunity to critically engage with pertinent topics while also developing awareness of practical steps to take for fostering healthy relationships and a positive lifestyle.

A key area of discussion for all the boys across the school was beautifully prompted by Mr Smith’s recent Assembly address about the importance of one’s name. It is sacrosanct and unique to a person’s Self. It anchors their place in the world and must be honoured by the community of people around them. However, in the modern age, smartphones and devices have emerged, unfortunately, as one site of misunderstanding, name-calling, but also distraction.

This week’s Pastoral theme and Tutor period discussion raised the topic of “appropriate use” of devices for schoolwork, communication, and entertainment. Tutors posed questions and discussed with the boys about “What can you do if someone sends/shows you something that you know is ‘inappropriate’?” and guided them through asserting clear boundaries (For example: “I don’t like this and have removed it” or “Please don’t send this stuff again.”).

There is significantly more nuance and complexity to setting personal boundaries and managing peer relationships during adolescence, and we will be keeping this as an ongoing focus for future Pastoral conversations.

Currently, part of this consideration links to acknowledging the impact of the presence of devices that have pervaded all spaces and domains we, and the boys, occupy in the classroom, at home, between peers, and much more. In both the Tutor period and through the Student Affairs Prefects, boys have been reminded about another “appropriate use” matter which has been the creeping of phones into teaching spaces where boys are distracted by the impulse to check
messages / email, play games, or watch videos.

Back L to R: Scott Moorcroft, Matthew Hoggarth, Bradley Barrow
Front: Rev Richard Wyngaard, Marshall Parham, Christopher Petersen, Mlibo Xotyeni, Mr Greg Wilmot

Boys have been reminded about the limitations on bringing phones to class, keeping them in their Houses during class time, handing phones in during Prep times, and what consequences are incurred if, without the explicit permission of a staff member, they have a phone in possession in class.

While this might not be a wildly popular assertion for most adolescents, the ever-present bidding-for-attention in a time-constrained world has accelerated the distraction of boys in classroom spaces and posed unique and complex social challenges, the impact of which we so poorly understand.

Prep sessions across all Houses are being run in two 45-minute sessions with a 15-minute break in between which leaves precious little time for resisting temptations after a long day of school and activity. However, a recent survey of boy’s Prep experiences, challenges, and opportunities has brought a wealth of useful insights which, in part, has indicated the impact of multiple distractions (particularly mobile devices) on the ability their ability to settle into work when they really need to concentrate on a given task. We would like to appeal to parents in supporting and promoting the sanctity of the Prep sessions.

Please encourage boys to make calls, send messages, games, or stream at times that don’t impact on the times dedicated to academics, particularly in the evenings. A novel opportunity might be to schedule-in a Family-time video call before or after Prep on a given day with everyone dialing in from around the country or further afield.

Lastly, there are huge risks and dangers to uncontained ‘surfng’ and access to the Web for boys who don’t yet have the insight, skills, or maturity to discern what might be inappropriate for them, their peers, or is(not) age-appropriate. In the coming weeks, the Pastoral Care team will be sharing some practical suggestions and information on how to converse with boys around ongoing mobile device usage and Parental Control applications.

“Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry, they are
untranslatable.” – W. H. Auden