Highgate’s pro-active pastoral care underpins all of our activities: pupil wellbeing is at the heart of all our thinking.
We know that moving to Year 7 is a big change, even if you are currently at Highgate Junior School. So, we try hard to ensure your transition to secondary school is as smooth and stress-free.
Once you’ve got your place at Highgate, we invite you to a series of events that help you get to know our Senior School and your new classmates. Currently, these include: an afternoon of activities and a tour of “Top Site”, where most of your lessons will be; an information evening for your parents/carers; and a barbecue for new pupils and parents/carers. However, most excitingly of all, just before term starts in September, we take all our new Year 7s to an outward bound centre to do activities like jet skiing, paddle boarding, laser quest and high(ish) ropes. Together, these give everyone a chance to start making new friends.
Everyone in Year 7 is placed in a form group of around 22 people, and you will be in the same form for Year 8. You spend almost all of your lessons with your form. We take great care choosing who goes into each form, making sure we get a balance of boys and girls, plus people new to Highgate and those already here. Your form tutor is an excellent person to talk to when you aren’t sure about something or feel things aren’t going right, be that due to friendships, homework, lost property – anything at all.
HEADS OF YEAR AND HEAD OF LOWER SCHOOL
We also have plenty of other support on offer: we have a dedicated Head of Year 7 and a Head of Year 8, and an overall Head of Lower School (what we call Years 7 and 8). Their main role is to ensure you feel safe, happy and supported, as well as keeping a close eye on your academic progress.
A director of wellbeing to ensure pupils are supported –TES Judge 2018
When you move into Year 9, you are placed into one of our 12 houses. You join a tutor group of around 16 pupils from different Year 8 forms. As well as form tutors for each year group, every house has a Head of House, whose job it is to keep an eye on how you are doing in and out of lessons, and to liaise with your teachers and parents/carers. If you have any concerns about how things are going, whether academically or otherwise, your Head of House is on hand to help.
For many, your house and your friends will help form some of your happiest memories of Highgate but you will still have plenty of opportunities to mix with pupils from different houses.
Every week the whole house attends a House Meeting where you will get to know pupils in the years above you. There are lots of inter-house activities and competitions, from football to debating to drama. The highlight of the year is our house singing competition in September, which brings everyone together with a common goal.
Dr Emma Silver is our Director Of Wellbeing, as well as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with 25 years’ experience working in child and adolescent mental health. Dr Silver works closely with the pastoral team and the senior leadership team to develop a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. She leads a comprehensive, accessible pupil support system which consists of: two school nurses, two counsellors and a welfare officer for the Senior School, a Junior school counsellor and welfare officer, and a play therapist in the Pre-prep.
Dr Silver works with the Pupil Welfare Committee and the Pupil Heads of School to develop pupil voice and ideas about young people’s mental health.
Our wellbeing team also leads regular assemblies dedicated to emotional health for pupils, insightful seminars for parents and digital tools for both parties via our online portals.
Education is a shared venture. At Highgate, we see our pupils, their parents/carers and our teachers co-existing in a virtuous triangle, where each side is fully involved with, and supportive of, the other.
Day-to-day contact is usually through our Heads of Year (Years 7 and 8) and Heads of House (Years 9-13), rather than with individual teachers; this ensures that there is someone in our School who has the full picture. Academic progress is monitored by regular learning reviews, on top of more occasional written reports and an annual parents’ consultation meeting. Tutors, Heads of Year/House and Heads of Section analyse feedback from teachers, offering encouragement and, where necessary, strategies for improvement.
Alongside the Highgate School Parents’ Association, we organise an annual series of pastoral presentations and discussions, covering topics like internet safety, screen time and social media, mental health and wellbeing, and helping parents cope with teenage children.
We also run age-appropriate in-school sessions for our pupils; for example, Year 7 and 8 have presentations from outside experts on street awareness and safety, and further up the school on topics such as relationships, drugs and alcohol, and managing exam stress.