Student Welfare

Pastoral support at Birchwood High School aims to provide students with a sense of community, inclusion and responsibility. Interventions are designed to assist in building resilience and self-awareness so that they may develop the confidence to navigate life.

We have designed these pages to introduce you to our Pastoral Team and provide an overview of how we support students who are experiencing difficulties.

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Pastoral Team

Our most valuable resource in addressing the pastoral needs of students is our staff. The role of the Form Tutor is essential in providing that day to day contact with a member of staff who knows the student best.

Parents, carers and students can contact the Form Tutor in the first instance to raise any concerns. Any issues that cannot be managed by the Form Tutor will then be escalated to the student’s Head of Year.

CMO, KPE, CRS, WSK, RNT, CHI, JCT, ITE, Debbie Le Gallienne (Attendance), Clare Mackinlay (Student Welfare), Joe Harlow (School Counsellor), Georgia Willsmore (Behavioural Support)

External Providers

Safe Space Logo
Just Talk Logo

JEPECA, SAFE SPACE (Counselling in Schools), Stort Valley Mentoring

Fusion

A support group for LGBTQ+ students

Fusion is Birchwood’s equality group, celebrating difference and diversity in our learning community. We meet weekly on a Tuesday lunchtime in D4. By coming to Fusion, students have the opportunity to go on relevant trips and attend speaker events (recently hearing Peter Tatchell and Olympic gold medalist Kate Richardson Walsh speak about their experience of being LGBT+), whilst also providing a regular space for students to meet their peers and create a supportive network within school. Being part of Fusion enables students to play an active role in school community through engaging in fundraising activities and ensuring that an attitude of acceptance and respect for all remains a central part of life at Birchwood.

Young Carers

A support group for students
who are caring for family members

A young carer is someone who helps care for a relative with a disability, illness, mental health issue, or a drug or alcohol problem. Birchwood Young Carers meet once a week on a Wednesday lunchtime in A3. This is an opportunity for students to chat with a member of staff about any issues they might be having, as well as having some time with peers who have similar caring responsibilities, playing games and chilling out. Any student is welcome to come along and be part of the group – whether they are a young carer or whether they would like to be a Birchwood Young Carer Ambassador and help raise the profile of young carers within school.

Resources

Many parents and carers feel out of their depth when faced with their child’s distress, particularly if this has started to affect their day to day functioning. For example, expressing their distress through self-harm or avoidant behaviour. Being well informed about the nature of their difficulties and having strategies for helping your child manage them more effectively can significantly impact the outcomes for both yourself and your child. Below are a number of useful links to access this information and advice.

Some resources for home:

Anxiety is the most common reason given for prolonged absence from school. Understanding the anxiety cycle is crucial in breaking unhelpful behaviours.

It can be helpful to view mental health in a similar way to physical health. We all know the key ingredients to enjoying good physical health (diet, exercise, sleep etc). The five ways to wellbeing identifies the key ingredients to enjoying good mental health.

Some students experience problematic levels of stress. The stress bucket can be a useful tool in identifying helpful and unhelpful habits associated with stress and give the young person a useful reference guide to managing it more effectively.

News

LGBT+ History month

February is LGBT+ History month in the UK - an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. In 2005, educators and activists Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick organised LGBT+ History Month as part of a Schools Out UK project, a programme that aims to educate young people about the issues members of the LGBT+ community face and to make schools feel inclusive for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The event was first held in February to coincide with the abolition of Section 28, a hugely controversial piece of Conservative government legislation which banned local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality. After widespread opposition and condemnation, Section 28 was abolished in 2003. Alas, due to the ongoing pandemic, we will not be able to celebrate the month in the usual way at school. However, we will hopefully be able to run various events later in the year to ensure that acceptance without exception remains a central part of our school community.

Please also check out Fusion groups Twitter page - @fusion_bwood - to read up on profiles of famous LGBT+ figures - past and present -  as well as information, talks and resources on all things LGBT+.


Willow Sculptor

Willow Sculptor

The young carers group took part in a workshop run by sculptor Tom Hare. Tom is a renowned willow sculptor and has had his worked installed across the world, including Kew Gardens, Anne Hathaway’s house and Las Vegas. He worked with students to create “flying seeds” which have been installed by the greenhouse near C block. It is a fair to say the process was a test in the art of patience and perseverance as it was very intricate work. However, the results are outstanding! I would like to thank Bishop’s Stortford Rotary club for their incredibly generous funding of the entire workshop.

Mr Harlow, Young Carers


February is LGBT History month

February is LGBT History month – an annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. In light of which, Birchwood will be running various events to celebrate the occasion. We have started the month by showing the film The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly. The film is about the work of the legendary Alan Turing and his team as they work to break Enigma – a Nazi code believed to be unbreakable.

Added to this, Fusion – Birchwood’s Equalities group – will be running a cake sale. There will be whole school assemblies throughout the week commencing Monday 11 February, focusing on significant events and figures in the gay rights movement. Finally, Wednesday 27 February will see a celebration in the main hall with various activities for students to get involved in.