Pastoral Care

Thornden school is a learning community that works together to help everyone achieve to the best of their ability. All members of this community are equally important and valued; we embrace and celebrate diversity.

Our pastoral system is based around mixed ability tutor groups. Students are supported by tutors who stay with their group as they progress through the school, building relationships with individuals as well as families.

All students are further supported by a Head of Year. Each Head of Year will ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary, help them to make informed choices when deciding option subjects in Year 9 and help them navigate education and career pathways as they enter their final years with us.

Both the tutor and Head of Year support individual students academically, socially and emotionally. They are a first point of contact for parents.

A member of the Senior Leadership Team has overall responsibility for the pastoral support and guidance provided for the whole year group.

Students are strongly represented in all aspects of school life. A thriving School Council has a highly significant role in making a range of decisions that influence and improve the experience of students. They are actively involved in fundraising for charity and they have a fundamental role in selecting the charities to support and driving the fundraising process. Students regularly form panels for staffing appointments. We believe that being involved in the decision making process helps to promote the values of independence and mutual respect.

We foster a unique environment where we can nurture, support and inspire our students. Located on a large site with attractive grounds we work hard to ensure that the school provides a warm and friendly environment. Students are all allocated a tutor base and are welcome to use these areas at break or lunch time. We have a number of other areas, such as The Hub and The Shed, where students can go to meet and make new friends.

Pastoral Support at Thornden School   

General Points:

Thornden school aims to be a safe and affirming place for children. We want them to develop a sense of belonging and feel able to trust and, when needed, talk openly about problems.  To that end, we aim to ensure that there is good communication between staff to ensure a coordinated approach to supporting our students.

We recognise that mental health problems affect many people, and we will, therefore, have students at Thornden who need support in this area.

Our approach is as follows:  

  • Tier 1 support is provided to students by the tutor and/or the Head of Year (HoY).
  • Tier 2 support is provided to some students e.g. mentoring, the Hub, the film room, access to the “Shed”, Young Carers group, yoga and Forest Schools. We use this approach as evidence suggests that group support can be more effective than 1:1 support, so, our pastoral team continue to develop, manage and plan groups to meet the needs of the current cohort of students.
  • Tier 3 support is provided to individuals by the Pastoral Support Team (comprised of a lead, Dr Evans, and three other fully trained pastoral support workers plus the school nurse team).  For students with an identified Special Education Needs or Disability (SEND), there may be additional pastoral support.

In general, school staff cannot act as mental health experts and do not diagnose conditions.

Most support is confidential unless a disclosure is made, in which case the Designated Safeguarding Lead will be contacted.

If a student is being seen by an external agency e.g. NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Eastleigh Youth Counselling (EYC) or Romsey Youth Counselling (RYC) it is not recommended that they are also seen by one of the team in school.

To promote resilience and ensure learning, we would like to clarify and encourage the following:  

  • Students will see a member of the Pastoral Support team only if they have a prearranged time slot.
  • Students returning from a session during a lesson will have a sticker in their logbook to show their teacher if needed.
  • Students needing to leave a lesson for a session will have a letter/note in their logbook.
  • Teachers will not let students out of lessons to see the Pastoral Support team unless the student has an appointment.
  • If students are really struggling during a lesson, they are to be sent to the Medical Room in the first instance.

Diagram Pastoral Care

External Request:

If parents/carers have a concern about a student’s mental health and wellbeing, our initial advice is to take them to their GP, whilst making their HoY, tutor or school nurse aware. In addition, we would ask parents/carers to advise us about current and previous support that students are accessing/ have accessed and when.  We believe it is vital that, following the conclusion of any support, students have an opportunity to establish new patterns of behaviour and thinking before subsequent additional support is offered. Constantly trying to access new strategies can be counterproductive for the young person.

Following communication with the family, if necessary, the HoY will complete an Internal Pastoral Support Referral (IPSR) form or signpost to an appropriate external agency (see the school website for further details).

IPSR forms are reviewed on a fortnightly basis. Further action is discussed and usually follows this pattern:

  • Triage within two weeks by a pastoral support worker
  • Assignment to a relevant support worker or signposting to an external agency
  • Communication with home on a start date for support

The aim is for a student to receive the appropriate support, which could include tier 2 and/or tier 3 support with the pastoral support team.

Self-referral & Peer-referrals:

If students have a mental health or wellbeing concern about themselves or a friend, they can request 1:1 pastoral support. They can do this by completing a sign-up sheet, available from reception at lunchtimes, which will be passed to Dr Evans, in the first instance. Requests will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis and the appropriate action taken.

Should the student decide that they do not need to start this support or no longer need it, they can opt out.

In these cases, parents may not be informed in the first instance.

Pastoral team

External request

Self referral

Peer referral

Attendance referral

Medical referral

Staff referral

Attendance Referrals:

If students have trouble accessing education due to attendance, this may result in a referral for 1:1 pastoral support.   

Medical Referrals:

If students present at the medical room, the student will be offered the appropriate level of support, which may include mental health first aid and/or referral for pastoral support as necessary. In addition to meeting the student’s medical needs, the medical room also provides a safe environment for students in need, away from the rest of the school population.

Staff Referrals:

If students talk to their tutor or another member of staff (including the Special Education Needs Coordinator), this will be directed to the HoY who may refer to the pastoral support team.


If you have any general comments regarding the Pastoral Support offered at Thornden School, please email