New International Shenzhen SchoolNews

King’s Portrait丨Mr Gary:The Head of Pastoral Care


King’s Portrait 



About previous experience

Q1. What inspired you to choose pastoral care as your career development after being a head of mathematics?
During my first year teaching in Primary, I became aware of many social issues affecting the local community. After volunteering to assist with local charitable initiatives, I was approached to create a new department to work with vulnerable children in the county. Working with students facing challenging circumstances helped solidify the idea that education is not just about academics but building and supporting characters and giving children support, encouragement and a wealth of opportunities.
Q2. Could you please raise some examples about the key events and PTA initiatives you have organised as a Deputy Head?

In my last position I made parent/family interaction one of my key areas for focus. I believe that parents and schools are a team and that parents should be part of the school community in a wide range of different ways. I established a regular set of parent mornings, where families would join the children for a morning and attend the classes. This allowed parents to observe the outstanding teaching practices of the school and created fun memories for the children. I created a family maths night where families would take part in mathematical challenges alongside their children. I also organised events such as international dance and school sports days. My fondest memory was our ‘International Week’. The children were taken off timetable and a bespoke week of project-based learning was created. Each classroom became a different country with different events and activities and all week the students would move around the school learning about new cultures. The students then had to independently create their own stall showcasing their weekly learning and parents were invited in on the Friday to look around the stalls and enjoy the songs, food, games, music, art or whatever else the children wanted to showcase.


About pastoral care

Q3. Pastoral care is a quiet new concept to many Chinese parents, could you introduce it from parents’ perspective?

Pastoral care is the commitment to support the growth and well-being, both physically and emotionally of each student. Modern students face a wealth of pressures both in school and in their private lives. Good pastoral care teaches children how to develop resilience, collaborative skills and resourcefulness as well as teaching morals and ethics that will become part of their independent character. Here in King’s, we plan on introducing a challenging and robust curriculum where children will be encouraged to try and where failure is not a problem but a key step in improvement and development. To introduce and teach this curriculum effectively we need to create a pastoral system which encourages efforts and builds on from mistakes, supporting each student in their own academic journey.

Q4. As you mentioned, why and how does pastoral care also support personalised learning for children?

Every student is an individual learner and as such responds to teaching and learning in different ways. Pastoral minded teachers identify the importance for setting personalised work that enables each child the chance to flourish in their own ways. Work has to be challenging and as such we are long removed from a one size fits all style of education. Every student has a unique set of skills and needs and it is my focus to identify how best to give every student the chance to excel and achieve.
Q5. As far as you’re concerned, why is it also important to provide pastoral care for academic teachers? How did you work with teachers in your previous schools?

The school is a community and as such support has to be in place for every member of the team. Teachers, much like the children in their classes, have to feel supported by the school. Creating a school, where collaboration and communication are paramount, establishes a happy and vibrant establishment, in which every person feels valued, respected and happy. It is so important to build a school where everybody arrives with a smile on their face ready for the day. I have already seen this in my short time here and am excited to assist in developing this further.

Q6. What’s your teaching philosophy, and why?
Every Child Matters. This was a key policy as I was learning to be a teacher and one that I believe in to this day. We have all made a commitment to give each child the very best education we can provide both academically and pastorally. This should always be first and foremost in the minds of all teaching staff.



future plan

Q7. Why did you come to China and choose KSS?
I originally left England because I had noted that many students I was working with, were of multi-national backgrounds. I felt I needed more experience in this field and wanted to improve my teaching. I chose China because it was always a long-held dream to be here. I grew up reading the adventures of the Monkey King and my father would take me to martial arts and Asian animation films and I was spellbound. There is so much history here and every day you can visit something awe inspiring. It is an exciting place to be and I am lucky that China has given me a family so China will always hold a special place in my heart. King’s was an attractive destination and in fact I turned down a large number of roles all over the world to be here. Not only does this school hold strong links with one of the most prestigious schools in the world, it is developing a challenging curriculum in an amazing city. We are at the start of a project that I believe is incredibly exciting. The school has made commitments to develop pastoral care and I had to be a part of this unique school. Meeting all the parents, teachers and various teams has shown me that everyone has the same educational beliefs, to make this a thriving, vibrant and outstanding school.
Q8. Based on your previous work experience, how would you implement pastoral care in KSS?

Firstly, I am eagerly looking forward to meeting all our little learners. Once the school year is up and running we need to create all the systems that will support our children. Each one of these systems needs to operate holistically and involve myself, teachers and children. Working together, support and extension programs will be introduced and personalised care will be put into place allowing each child the opportunity to flourish. In my role, I will be available for any concerns from staff, students and parents and it is this community minded approach which allows pastoral care to blossom effectively.

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