Ask a teacher - Q A

10th October 2008 at 01:00

Some of our form tutors are excellent at pastoral work, but a few see their role as little more than taking the register. How do you develop pastoral skills in all staff?

John, Stratford-upon-Avon

A: The pastoral role isn't for everyone. Some colleagues feel uneasy about counselling. Perhaps this isn't surprising as the skill-set for classroom teaching is different from the one-to-one skills needed for counselling.

We can try to close the skill gap with training that might work for some. We can share good practice, and we can think about pastoral mentors.

Until we have a fully trained workforce that is committed to the pastoral aspect of the job we will, I'm afraid, be papering over the cracks.

Sue, East Grinstead

A: There will always be staff who in every other way might be model professionals, but just can't get their heads around the pastoral role.

I know this isn't good, but equally I know that it is going to be hard to change them. You can lay on lots of chats about good practice, buddy them up with excellent pastoral practitioners and even tell them that they are not doing their jobs properly. But what you won't do is change them.

Rather than bang your head against this brick wall it might be a better use of energy to devise "cover" arrangements for their tutor groups.

Rod, Feltham

A: There are two ways forward on this: carrot and stick. To take the stick, you could remind your colleagues that the pastoral aspect of their job is within their job description. On the other hand, you could identify who is doing the job well and get them to lead a meeting and demonstrate how important the role is

John, Worthing


Q: Our pupils go on activity days and assault courses for team-building. When I asked what we do as a staff, all one colleague could think of was "hold coffee mornings". What do other schools do to build up the team spirit?

Q: There is no teacher union representative at my school, who do I go to first if I need to ask anything or if I have an issue with something?

Send your answer or any question you would like answered by your fellow teachers to We pay pound;30 for any question or answer published.


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today