In Sancta Maria College we are deeply mindful of the welfare of all of our students and pastoral care is a vital element of service provision. All members of the teaching, administration and ancillary staffs and school management exercise a caring role towards our students. Staff members build warm, respectful relationships with students while also ensuring appropriate boundaries are established and maintained and student responsibility promoted and encouraged. The importance of taking personal responsibility is modelled for students and students are guided in making effective choices that allow them to meet their own needs, while also respecting the needs of others. Learning that all of our behaviours have consequences and that we always have a choice as to whether we choose those behaviours that are effective, or those that are ineffective, is also an important part of this awareness raising approach.
Our student support structure includes all of the following personnel and teams, as well as the support that, of course, is provided by all members of the teaching and ancillary staff in a number of informal, but appropriate ways:
Principal and Deputy Principal
The Principal and Deputy Principal oversee the programmes of care for students and are also available to parents when concerns and challenges arise for their daughters. Similarly, they are always available to provide support for students who are struggling in any area of their lives and to make/recommend referrals to individuals or organisations when appropriate.
The Year Head, as a leader of teaching and learning, plays a very important role in your daughter’s life. This role is very much a pastoral one and is dedicated to making your daughter’s educational experience a positive one, while also working to ensure that it is positive for other students with whom she comes in contact. The Year Head works closely with class tutors and members of teaching staff. She/he also supports staff in the implementation of the Positive Behaviour Code.
The Year Head will also monitor your daughter’s academic progress and makes interventions, as necessary. Year Heads are also available to parents and will keep in regular contact with home when the need arises. They will also offer support and guidance to parents for the duration of their daughter’s stay at Sancta Maria College.
The tutor system in Sancta Maria College is part of our pastoral care system. Each class group has a tutor who continues with her/his class group from 1st to 3rd year and also from 5th to 6th year. The tutor gets to know his/her student and the students always feel that they have someone to turn to in times of need.
The Care Team meets on a weekly basis to identify vulnerable students, to review the progress of students who face additional challenges both in and out of school, and to ensure adequate supports are put in place to address, to the best of our ability, the areas of concern.
Everyone at Sancta Maria College views the development of positive self-esteem as essential for students. The Guidance Counsellor works with all Year Groups and is involved in classroom activities, one-to-one personal counselling, career counselling and the assessment of educational and vocational abilities.
She also works with all senior students on an individual basis to develop study plans and complete college and access programme applications.
The Career Guidance Programme within the school is designed to help the students to:
- develop a self-awareness of their many abilities and talents
- make educational and occupational choices that match their interests and aptitudes
- make informed decisions about the many choices with which they will be faced and an informed choice about the direction they want to take in life so that they can reach their full potential as a human being
Areas covered by the Guidance Counsellor include subject choice, psychological testing, individual and group guidance, career investigation, job shadowing, the Central Applications Office (CAO) and the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admission System (UCAS) applications, College Open days, study skills and job applications.
The school also offers the Social Personal and Health Education, (SPHE), Civic Social and Political Education, (CSPE), and Relationships and Sexuality Education, (RSE). All staff who teach on the SPHE and RSE programmes have had extensive training over the past two years to equip them to deliver these very important elements of the school curriculum.
These programmes offer students the opportunity to explore new areas in a respectful and sensitive manner and in a safe environment. Students learn about personal responsibility and social responsibility in a structured and carefully devised manner. These subjects also offer students the opportunity to discuss topical issues and it gives them the space to air their thoughts, listen respectfully to the thoughts of others and become well informed in personal development.
The ‘Cara’ Programme is a programme of welcome and support for incoming First Year Students. It is led by the Guidance Counsellor and aims to make the transition from primary to secondary school more pleasant and less threatening for them.
The Sancta Maria College ‘Cara’ programme has been running successfully for many years. It comprises a group of fifth year student volunteers who befriend first year students, encouraging and assisting them in their transition to second level.
‘Caras’ play a key role – most especially in August/September – in helping the new First Years to settle into their new environment. The First Years meet with their ‘Caras’ several times throughout the year, at lunchtime, breaktime or at other scheduled activities. The focus is on creating an environment where new students feel at ease and build relationships with senior students and, in so doing, have a senior student ‘friend’ whom they can talk to when they need support or assistance. The programme is anchored by the Guidance Department and has the pastoral care of our First Year students at its core.
Sancta Maria College provides a full and varied set of supports for students with Special Educational Needs.
These supports are offered following formal and informal assessment and consultation with parents, primary schools and other educational professionals.
The provision of this support takes place in a variety of forms, as deemed appropriate for the student in question.
Students for whom English is not their first language are also given support in the development of language skills.
The Student Council consists of a representative body elected from, and by, the general cohort of students in the school. Each tutor group elects a class representative to the Council. The Student Council gives students an opportunity to voice their opinions and to play an active role in policy-making in the school. A member of staff liaises with the Student Council and through the Council links are formed between the students and school management.
Once the group of students has been identified the students undergo leadership training and this introduces them to everything involved in running a successful students’ council and gets the girls off to a good start.
The aim of the council is to provide a forum for students to voice their opinions on school matters and play their part in shaping policy and influencing and enhancing student life.
Senior Prefect Team
Towards the end of fifth year students can apply for the positions of Head Girl, Deputy Head Girl and Prefects for the following year.
The Prefect Team organises activities and helps out at school functions. The Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl represent the school on all formal occasions.
The Parents’ Association is an active and vibrant feature of the school community at Sancta Maria College.
Membership of the Association is open to parents/guardians of all students attending the College. The committee is elected each year at the Annual General Meeting, AGM, in October and meetings are held monthly.
The Parents’ Association acts as a representative body that:
- Represents the views of parents
- Informs parents of developments in education and in the school
- Fosters co-operation among parents, teachers and school management
- Provides opportunities for parents and the College Principal and/or a representative of staff to meet and exchange ideas on the education of their children, to discuss issues such as discipline, homework etc. and to address topics of mutual interest
- Helps with the provision of facilities/equipment and in fundraising
Parents who wish to become actively involved in the school are welcome to do so and encouraged to join the Parents’ Association. In recent years the Association has worked closely with school management and staff in improving and developing computer and locker facilities and also our library software. It has also assisted with policy development and with college events, such the College Musical, Graduation Day etc.