When I joined East Coker as Head Teacher in January 2016, I was extremely impressed with the high quality pastoral support the staff gave their pupils. Education at East Coker was more than just tests and targets. Staff get to know the children extremely well and we work very closely with the children to develop their social and emotional learning just as much as we do with their academic learning. Staff gave up their time during lunchtimes and after school in order to provide additional opportunities
We have a strong pastoral team led by our Special Educational Needs Coordinator. We have staff who are Learning Mentors who support children with the day to day emotional challenges as well as Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) who work with children more regularly helping them manage more challenging emotions. In addition to these roles, we also have a large number of staff who have Mental Health First Aid Training.
We follow a highly recognised PSHE (Physical, Social, Health Education) scheme called JIGSAW and lessons take place regularly to develop our children's emotional resilience and development.
There is a very strong sense of pupil leadership and teamwork in our school. Our Year 6 pupils are given many opportunities to lead areas around the school in their Ambassador roles. Each new Year 6 cohort puts forward ideas as to the roles they would like to do as part of our school community but here is a selection of some of our more regular Ambassador roles:
Hosts - Show visitors around the school
Sports Leaders - Help run and set up PE sessions and Lunchtime PE Challenges and competitions
Playground Leaders - Run and set up play activities for our Reception pupils
Music Ambassadors - Set up timetables for children to perform during our weekly whole school assemblies, support with our extra music activities such as our Spring Concert, Music Days, Services and Concerts
Art Ambassadors - Help lead art projects around the school
Office Ambassadors - Answer phones and sort out letters and general admin tasks
Assembly IT Ambassadors - Set up and run the IT for assemblies and our Friday Singing Sessions
Learning Ambassadors - Work with our senior leaders to complete learning walks where they chat to other children about their learning and feedback this information to our senior leadership team
We also train our Year 6 pupils to become Buddies to our new Reception pupils. We set aside designated 'Buddy' time so they can do activities together, such as sport or art, giving our older children the opportunity to become great role models. We feel this is such an asset to our children and despite COVID, we continue to develop our Buddy role, albeit more 'pen pal' based through letters and video calls.
We also run a school council with pupil representatives from each class from Y2 to Y6 who meet weekly and work on an improvement project of their choice. They feedback weekly to their class and bring ideas back to their council meetings. They are given a budget to help them with their projects.
Our Year 6 pupils also have the opportunity to be House Captains help plan and run weekly house meetings with the children within their house as well as support the children and develop a sense of community through house activities and competitions.
Projects encouraging our children to become confident leaders and effective team members change and develop each year due to this being such a priority of our school.