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Pastoral support is the pathway to success

While outstanding educational achievement is the benchmark of a great school, what makes a school truly exceptional is the prevalence of pastoral care to support and buttress these academics.

Teacher Jackie Webb

At ACG Tauranga, student support doesn’t simply rely on providing additional tutorials and workshops to better help each year level achieve. Instead, they also look to the overall wellbeing of every child to ensure happy, confident and engaged learners.

“Pastoral care is wrapped around everything academic, and at the heart of all we do at ACG Tauranga,” explains Senior Dean Jackie Webb. “Trust, confidence and connection with key staff members enable students to learn and engage at their individual potential.”

“As Senior Dean, student care is woven throughout my day. Whether I am checking in with a student as they walk to class, formally meeting with parents or scheduling time to work with tutors to develop individual student learning plans – care and connection are the foundation values that guide my day.”

ACG Tauranga has developed several measures to guide their pupils to succeed, with student wellbeing uppermost in all teaching and learning plans.

Among these tools is their Next Step programme. This initiative has been designed to illustrate that if things don’t quite go to plan, there is always a ‘next step’ to take.

Within the programme, ACG teachers create a personalised plan for each student, identifying a series of actions to help get things back on track and achieve their goals. It is then implemented with plenty of support, accountability, and family connection along the way.

“Next Step acknowledges that every student has an individual pathway, approach to learning and ‘best fit’ solution to course selection. One size does definitely not fit all,” confirms Jackie.

“Students’ pathways are like a jigsaw puzzle that we work to solve together, with students, teachers and their families all having an integral role. Additionally, all students are unique. Their lives at school, and beyond, all affect their learning in uniquely personal ways. As such, we approach each course through a lens of individuality.”

To further scaffold learning, ACG Tauranga created mid-level papers – AS Foundation courses – for students who have passed their IGCSEs but are not yet ready to step up to A-Level study. Available in mathematics and chemistry (with physics being introduced in 2021) these transitional courses act as stepping-stones. They provide a thorough grounding of accessible content for students, empowering them to move confidently and comfortably to AS-Level study the following year.

These support platforms play a significant role in ACG Tauranga’s Pathway Planning programme. This initiative involves structuring core subjects and designing educational paths to best suit each student based on their strengths, their aspirations, and their personal learning journey.

While some students are naturally gifted scholastically, others may need a little more assistance in mastering certain subjects. So, within this programme, the academic strengths of each child are strategically assessed to determine the best subject selection for them. Each student’s pathway is mapped out according to subjects which best suit their needs while taking their educational goals and future aspirations into account.

As such, their subject selection may fall within a certain Cambridge IGCSE or A-Level grouping or may include a combination of papers from different IGCSE, AS Foundation and A-Level study.

“We initiate the Pathways Planning programme from Year 10 and approach the process from the perspective that every student can be successful,” confirms Jackie. “We also host a Pathways Planning evening with local professionals sharing their stories, university guidance, tertiary providers, and specialists in their field. The event has grown to be incredibly well supported by our families, confirming the value they place on exploring pathways, as opposed to simply selecting subjects.”

“With ongoing care, connection, and a touch of creativity, we can work with families to ensure that our students leave ACG Tauranga ready to engage with the successful future ahead of them.”