I am happy I am Dean Close
At Dean Close Prep School your child’s happiness and well-being is at the heart of everything we do. Not only do we want to provide every child with the finest all-round education, we want to ensure they have the confidence to get involved and experience all that is on offer, to bounce back when things don’t go as planned and most of all be happy with who they are and what they enjoy.
How do we achieve this?
Every child is valued for who they are. The Headmaster knows each child’s name, their strengths, what they struggle with and who their friends are. Weekly staff meetings discuss any issues pupils may be having, ranging from school work, to friendship issues, family bereavements or even personal organisation matters.
Knowing the individual
‘Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.’ Rita F Pearson. This quote sums up the pastoral care at Dean Close Preparatory School.
How the School is organised has a large influence on how pupils interact, friendship groups and relationships with teachers. In the first instance pupils are organised into houses, from Year 3 to Year 8. This means pupils of all age groups interact. The older pupils act as an inspiration for the younger, setting a positive example as to how to behave and what can be achieved. House competitions encourage support and bonding across all age groups and help develop empathy as well as an element of healthy competition.
Pupils are also organised by forms, as they move up the School the forms are structured according to academic ability.
In Years 3-5 each child has two people who are there to look out for them. A Form Tutor who meets them regularly to ensure they are making academic progress and a Houseparent who coordinates their pastoral care. Together this team of two staff members work together to support, encourage and champion the individual.
In Years 6-8 each child has a House Tutor who is responsible for each child’s needs, both pastorally and academically. The House Tutor groups meet at least three times a week and consist of a minimum of four and a maximum of eight children from the same house. This enables children to create a very close bond with their tutor who will write a pastoral comment each half term on each of their tutees’ reports. These comments are also shared with the Houseparents and the Head of Pastoral Care so that each child is known and treated as a unique individual.
Twice a year we have pastoral mornings that support and enrich the pastoral work undertaken by House/Form Tutors, giving them extra time with their groups/individuals to review progress made, review targets set and to enable each child to have a 1:1 meeting with their form or House Tutor. These mornings enable staff to have quality time with the children and to build on the relationships founded over the year.
Keeping children safe
Every term the school dedicates a week in support of the three child-centred national campaigns: Anti-bullying, E safety and Mental Health and Well-being. During these weeks pupils explore topics to a deeper level, normally around a theme in their PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education) lessons, at break times and in assemblies.
Pupils in Year 7 and Year 8 have two Well-being Days each year, where pupils cover a range of topics related to a healthy body and mind. They might try new activities such as yoga, bicycle maintenance, First Aid, setting up camp, cooking on an outdoor stove or team building exercises. They might also explore a range of topics, such as the changes that take place during adolescence and body image.
The Life Bus
This is an interactive teaching programme that works alongside the School’s PSHCE curriculum. In a fun, age appropriate way it covers topics and life skills that cannot always be taught in the classroom. Younger pupils might explore topics such as taking care of myself, feelings, friendships whereas older children might examine more complex issues such as self-esteem, managing conflict and the risks of drug and alcohol abuse.
Staff regularly undergo safeguarding training and are trained in First Aid. There is also a school counsellor for pupils who may require additional support other than that of their Housemistress/master, House Tutor or Form Tutor and a Head of Pastoral Care who oversees the well-being of pupils throughout their time at the Prep School. There is a weekly meeting of Senior Management where concerns about pupils is a priority. The Head of Pastoral Care has weekly meetings with day and boarding houseparents, where once again pupils are the standing item on the agenda.
As a school we want to know each individual and use our professional knowledge, parental input, child input and also AS Tracking to help us best support each child in our care. AS Tracking helps us to identify those pupils who are struggling to make wise, emotionally healthy, pro-social choices before they lead to mental health or social difficulties. AS Tracking tracks pupils’ thinking patterns over time, enabling our staff to respond sensitively to fluctuations which may indicate concern. AS Tracking data helps to tell us where a pupil is, rather than who a pupil is.
We all like to feel praised and at Dean Close Preparatory School we want the children to know that we value their positive interactions with each other, acts of kindness and thoughtfulness to all members of the community. Staff award Golden credits, which are emailed to parents, when children are seen exhibiting thoughtful and positive behaviour, this helps to foster an understanding in the children of the positive behaviour that we are looking for them to demonstrate.
Moving to a new school can be a difficult time for children. At Dean Close Preparatory School we do our best to support new children so they settle quickly into their new envionrment.
Year 3 (Age 7+)
Pupils arrive from our Pre-Prep School age seven. A member of DCPS staff coordinates this move, meeting with staff at DCPPS regularly. A move up morning takes place in June when any pupils coming into Dean Close spend the morning with their teacher, getting used to the School and starting to build that vital relationship ready for the new term.
Any new child arriving at the School has a shadow, a pupil already at the School who is there to help and show them the new routines and way around school. All staff are very aware of all our new children and make contact with parents by the end of the first week to check how their child has settled in.
Year 7 (Age 11+)
At 11 pupils arrive from many local schools. Any new child arriving at the School has a shadow, a pupil already at the School who is there to help and show them the new routines and way around school. All staff are very aware of all our new children and make contact with parents by the end of the first week to check how their child has settled in. In the first three weeks our Year 7 children all climb Mount Snowdon, this is a chance for all our children to do something challenging together, building friendships and getting to know one another.
Year 8 (Age 13)
At 13, when our pupils leave, we have a very close relationship with Dean Close Senior School and all our houseparents meet the children’s new houseparent to pass on vital information. All pastoral records are kept on the school iSAMS database, so that information can be passed on to any school that a child may be moving to.
EAL pupils may arrive with very little English. Our EAL department is there to support and at the start of the year run their own induction with the children, showing them key things that will help to make their transition as smooth as possible.
Day to Day
Daily, we encourage children to take care of themselves and others, to be polite and appreciative. We ask them to try new things and take managed risks and push themselves, to explore ‘failure’ and instil values such as perseverance, giving 100% , commitment, responsibility, kindness and to be aware of their influence in the world and upon others. All this means that when they move onto the Senior School, they do so as well-rounded individuals, equipped to make positive choices and informed decisions.