Support for pupils
The guidance system
The Academy is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment in which every pupil is encouraged to reach his or her potential in curricular, extra curricular and personal terms. Our approach to pupil support is an integrated one which is regularly reviewed and refined. Central to this support is the class teacher in the Prep and Junior School and the guidance system in the Senior School, although all teachers, whether part of the guidance system or not, are committed to the well-being of their pupils. Pupils are encouraged to talk to any teacher with whom they feel comfortable on any matter where support is needed, academic or personal. This message is reinforced to them in writing and regularly at assembly. In addition, all departments have their own programmes to help and support pupils within their subject areas.
Responsibilities and structures
The guidance system at Dollar Academy is focused on year groups; there are six Heads of Year, one for each year group from Form I to Form VI, and six Assistant Heads of Year. The Head of Form I is a static position allowing the Head and Assistant Heads of Form I to build up real expertise in this transitional stage; all other Heads and Assistants move up the school with their year groups. Within the year group each pupil is assigned to a Form Tutor group. The Form Tutor, who also moves up the school with his or her class, meets with the form group each morning and, in addition to monitoring the day to day routines, is well placed to get to know pupils individually, to encourage curricular, extra curricular and personal progress, and to offer support to individual pupils.
The Head of Year, helped by the Assistant Head of Year, has overall responsibility for the welfare, progress, conduct and support of the pupils in the year group and responds to the needs of individual pupils by encouraging, motivating, praising achievement, disciplining when necessary and putting in place a range of strategies designed to help pupils to overcome any difficulties that they may encounter. The Head of Year liaises with the Assistant Rector with responsibility for his or her year group: Mrs Alison Morrison for Prep, Junior and Form I pupils; Dr Jason Brooks for Forms II, III and IV; and Mrs Lesley Hutchison, who also has the overview of the guidance system, for Forms V and VI. Assistant Rectors will often become involved in issues of more serious concern. In these cases, there may be input from the Child Protection Co-ordinator; the Deputy Rector and / or the Rector will also be informed and might become directly involved.
In addition to the above, Form VI pupils choose an individual Personal Tutor to help and advise them in the course of their final year. All teachers are involved in the Personal Tutoring system and most members of staff have no more than three tutees to allow for individual attention and focus.
Support systems and procedures
The procedures in place to facilitate pupil support include
- individual pupil interviews by Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year;
- individual and group meetings with Assistant Rectors or the Deputy Rector;
- a comprehensive external and internal reporting system which monitors academic and personal progress;
- the use of individual pupil report cards designed to help, on a period by period basis, pupils who are experiencing difficulties;
- the ‘Progress Memo’ system used to alert Heads of Year to issues affecting individual pupils;
- the ‘Keep in View’ system designed to alert all teaching staff to pupils about whom there are concerns of any type;
- regular meetings to discuss individual pupil progress and support strategies between guidance staff and a range of other members of staff, including Form Tutors, House staff, subject teachers, Heads of Departments, PSE staff, and the Learning Support Department;
- the involvement, where appropriate, of the Child Protection Co-ordinator, the School Nurse, the school doctor;
- regular contact, where appropriate, between guidance staff and parents;
- regular discussions between Heads of Year and the relevant Assistant Rector;
- the referral of pupils to specialists in a number of areas within the school;
- course choice interviews which take place with pupil, parents, a member of the Senior Staff Group, and a Head of Year or Assistant Head of Year for Form II pupils in January to discuss their subject choices and academic aspirations;
- Further subject choice interviews in Form IV and again before the start of session in Form V and Form VI;
- UCAS support by designated advisers throughout Form VI;
- Careers advice including referrals to independent Careers Adviser, Isobel Willox;
- an ‘open door’ policy observed by all guidance staff;
- the deployment of individualised strategies tailored to suit the needs of particular pupils.
In addition, guidance staff liaise with their year group and take account of their concerns through pupil councils and forums. They hold monthly year group assemblies and regularly attend or organise pupil events and activities.
Heads and Assistant Heads of Year are the first points of contact for parents wishing to discuss any aspect of their children’s schooling or welfare. Matters of concern can also be raised with the Child Protection Co-ordinator, Mrs Lesley Hutchison who is assisted by Mr Neil Blezard, Miss Ruth Foster and Mrs Alison Morrison, and/or with the Assistant Rectors, the Deputy Rector, and the Rector.