Our general approach to pastoral care at York House is based on building positive and nurturing relationships with our students. Where we know them well and understand what they need, tailoring our approach to suit those needs. We aim to provide comprehensive support and put clear proactive systems and strategies in place to ensure all children in our care feel safe, happy and empowered to thrive and reach their full potential. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in the school community has a positive, well-rounded and inclusive experience, where everyone feels motivated to strive to be the best possible version of themselves.
We aim to give our pupils the best possible preparation for his or her future studies and adult life in everything we do. We encourage our pupils to develop a self-disciplined and hard-working approach. This will help them achieve good academic results whilst, just as importantly, encouraging three character traits which we call the York House Way. We believe these to be vital;
In our recent ISI Inspection, the quality of pupils' personal development was noted as being 'excellent' with pupils of all ages and abilities (including those with SEND) having, 'high levels of self-knowledge, self-discipline and resilience'.
Every child has talents and we aim to discover, nurture and develop them to their full potential. We offer a strong academic curriculum and a particularly wide range of Sports, Music and Arts. We also provide a very broad extra-curricular programme that stretches and stimulates young minds, whilst making full use of our spacious countryside location.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Understanding the importance of Mental Health and a child's total wellbeing is crucial to ensure a safe, happy and productive environment. At York House we put a real focus on appreciating all aspects of a child's wellbeing; physical, mental/emotional, social and spiritual. We have a dedicated Pastoral team whose sole purpose is to address the many needs of the students and staff at our school. They are responsible for ensuring systems and support networks are in place so that we are able to address these needs and create a safe and positive learning environment.
Using the Outdoors
The use of the outdoors and our unique natural educational environments is one of our greatest assets in the promotion of the health and well-being of our students. We understand the calming and nurturing influence animals and nature can have on all students, especially those who have specific emotional needs. We make this as accessible to all students as often as possible which has been a huge help to many. Donkey down-time supports students with more specific educational or emotional needs and provides them with allocated animal time. To talk to them and to help care for them. This has had a huge impact on our pupil's wellbeing in general and helped in regulating their emotions.
Our playing fields are surrounded by enclosures where our animals are kept, so during break times, children of all ages are surrounded by companions, always there to listen and cheer them up. Through Outdoor Education, students have the opportunity to take part in mountain biking, shelter building, camp outs and lake fishing. These activities allow students to reset and take their mind off work, releasing day to day pressure that can weigh down on them and therefore causing stress, anxiety and have adverse effects on their mental health and wellbeing. Out natural environment offers much more in terms of mindfulness and the ability to be by yourself if you need to find a quiet, peaceful place to collect your thoughts or to talk quietly with your friends.
Our House System
The House system at York House is well established and gives pupils the opportunity to take part in a number of school events against each other and compete for the ultimate prize of the House Cup. From Sports Day to House Netball, from the House Debate to the Music Competition, all pupils are encouraged to be part of and represent their House with pride. A real strength is the vertical grouping of Houses allowing the opportunity for pupils of all ages to work together, to inspire and help each other. This works well alongside and compliments our horizontal year groups. Each week, pupils earn Stars for the House Flag (which you will see flying as you come down the drive on the left-hand side) and these ultimately go towards the House Cup too at the end of the year.
At York House, we believe it is important for the pupils to have a voice. To that end, we have a School Council for which elections are held at the start of each year. The School Council has been instrumental, driving and instigating new initiatives around school and ensuring that all pupils have their say in creating a positive, safe and productive learning environment.
The RULER approach has been a welcome inclusion to everyday life here at York House. Working in harmony with the York House Way in creating truly empathetic, caring students who understand their emotions and feelings, as well as the emotions of others. By learning how to recognise and understand all of their emotions from a young age, they are then more capable of labelling, expressing and regulating themselves, which can help them cope more effectively in a variety of situations.
As our students move through the school they have the opportunity to use the RULER blueprint in order to discuss and express their feelings. Our more senior students will be expected to engage maturely in restorative, reflective discussions with their form tutors if any mistakes have been made. They are encouraged to talk about how they felt about what happened, how others involved may have felt, to take responsibility for their actions and to come up with positive plans to ensure that they have learnt and grown from the situation.
RULER is a research informed programme from Yale University. This research has shown that students using RULER have better academic performance. It improves school climate, increases students' emotional intelligence and social skills, decreases anxiety and depression and students using RULER are less likely to bully other students.
Recognising emotions in self and others
Labelling emotions correctly
Expressing emotions correctly
Regulating emotions effectively.
'Think Equal' is a global initiative which calls for a system in education, to end the discriminatory mind-set across our world and to ensure positive life outcomes for our children. The 'Think Equal' programme is designed for Early Years children to teach social and emotional learning; the creator of 'Think Equal' explained that neuro-scientists are clear that the optimal time to change mind-sets, attitude and behaviour, is prior to the age of six years old.
The programme outlines six 'I am' precepts which are; I have a strong sense of who I am; I am able to look after myself, I am able to look after others, I am able to communicate, I am able to contribute and create and I am a critical thinker. These principles relate to the York House Way, embracing RULER and our school ethos and values within each valuable session.
Think Equal has been embedded into our Early Years Curriculum for both Nursery and Reception this academic year and our children enjoy the important stories and activities, allowing them to engage with and discuss equality in a child-friendly way.
Children are allocated to our school houses at the end of Year 1, they are allocated at random to each house. The exception to this rule is if the family havs a connection to house already, for example through a sibling or through a family member that is known as an Old Yorkist (our alumni term!)