How thoughtful pastoral care produces happy, well-adjusted students


The UK boarding system is no stranger to accolades, and there’s a good reason for that. Effective learning can only take place when students feel truly safe, seen and heard in all aspects of their school life. A nurturing environment, coupled with professional support in their home away from home, goes a long way in building the resilience that will see them through many challenges throughout their school years.

Through high-level pastoral care, boarding school students learn the value of balancing their education with emotional, spiritual, and social development so that they define success in their own terms. The alchemy of growth and intellectual development results in conscientious individuals who can thrive in any circumstance well beyond graduation. Here are four UK schools that embody exceptional and proactive care for students:

The King’s School, Canterbury

Located in the historic city of Canterbury, King’s is a place where student happiness is prioritized to instill a rich inner life alongside academic success. Source: King’s School, Canterbury

Continuing a tradition of academic excellence that dates back to 597 AD, The King’s School, Canterbury aims to inculcate cutting-edge 21st century education within its illustrious history. The independent coeducational day and boarding school is open to pupils in Years Nine through Thirteen in the historic city of Canterbury, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rooting the school in its proud history doesn’t mean being chained to old ways of doing things. A distinctive feature that is immediately apparent when a student enters King’s is the innovative pastoral care adopted at the school to generate a positive and inclusive environment for all learners, regardless of background.

Students enjoy 24-hour access to pastoral staff which includes house masters and mistresses of the house, pastoral assistants, matrons and guardians whose priority is to ensure the well-being and happiness of their students. Whether they are registered as boarders or as day students, they learn to forge authentic relationships with all the members of their House, which fosters a strong sense of belonging to feel integrated into the school community.

At King’s, no student feels left out. To that end, the school is launching new initiatives, including renewing its successful wellness group, cultural groups, neurodiversity group, LGBTQ+ group, and gender equality task force to create a safe space where every student can celebrate who they are. .

As if that weren’t enough, the school’s holistic focus on wellness is further reinforced with its compulsory Life Matters subject. Topics include hygiene, healthy lifestyles, sex and relationships, self-esteem and more – which help students make safe, mature and informed choices in their lives.

With such comprehensive attention from the school, it’s no wonder King’s students are achieving success far beyond the classroom. The program emphasizes the depth and breadth of its subjects, while extra-curricular life complements academics perfectly to produce outstanding students who progress to leading universities in the UK and overseas. If you are interested in participating in Excellence at King’s School, Canterbury, click here to apply now.

Clayesmore School

Clayesmore School

Clayesmore students thrive in a supportive, non-judgmental environment where they can achieve their best potential which prepares them for the real world. Source: Facebook, Clayesmore School

Nestled in the stunning Dorset countryside, Clayesmore is as historic as it is picturesque. Founded in 1896, the school stays true to its roots while adopting progressive approaches to ensure its Preparatory, Senior and Sixth grade students reach their full potential. Each student is known by name and enjoys a friendly atmosphere while being part of a happy and inclusive family. Together, they embark on an academic journey of a lifetime that leads to endless possibilities.

With the skills, knowledge and passion to live a rich and fulfilling life, anything is possible. Fortunately, anything can be acquired with the LEX program. Launched in September 2021, LEX is a personal development program designed to build confidence, knowledge and resilience. The specialized trips, lectures, expeditions and courses it hosts provide learners with much more than transferable skills, but also unforgettable memories that they will remember with a smile for the rest of their lives.

The program frees preparatory and senior students from traditional Saturday morning academic classes to broaden their perspectives. Activities focus on five major ‘pillars’ – The Great Outdoors; Arts, creativity and culture; business and employability; academic extension; as well as service and leadership. The combination allows students to discover skills or a passion in certain areas while becoming experts in others.

LEX complements all the usual extra-curricular activities such as sport, music, drama and the arts that you would expect to find at a leading UK independent school. To learn more about applying, click here.

Chetham School of Music

Chetham School of Music

Passion and creativity underpin life at Chetham’s, where students take center stage as they chart their own path. Source: Facebook, Chetham School of Music

Located in the north of England, Chetham’s School of Music is the UK’s largest specialist music school where 300 students aged between 8 and 18 are admitted on the basis of their musical ability and potential. Musicality may be the common thread that resonates with the students, but it is the strong community bond developed through the performances that unites them.

Creativity here is championed by strong theater and arts programs closely linked to Manchester’s cultural industry. Their musicianship is honed and refined in the New School’s state-of-the-art building, which includes practice and rehearsal rooms. The school’s Stoller Hall provides a performance space for students to fully express their talents with the local arts community.

Chetham’s dynamic programs attract enthusiastic and promising learners from around the world, creating a truly international atmosphere in the school. Residents are well cared for under the supervision of house staff entirely dedicated to their well-being. The communal joie de vivre that exists at Chetham’s is unmistakable, creating an atmosphere that allows everyone to learn, develop and share their skills.

The music programs are truly unrivaled in their breadth and depth, with specialization available in everything from choral performances, instruments to composition. Yet the school’s students aren’t limited to music – its strong academics see many graduates progressing into professional paths such as law, medicine, languages ​​and politics.

Headington School

Headington School

Headington’s unique Future-Ready Girls plan provides its students with a solid foundation in teaching, student life, and emotional intelligence that is invaluable for the future. Source: Headington School

Headington School is located just one mile from Oxford city centre, surrounded by 23 acres of lush greenery. The independent day and boarding school is open to girls between the ages of 3 and 18, where they are led to think independently to develop resilience and compassion. Students grow into mature, confident young women, grounded in a strong sense of responsibility and loving lifelong learning by the time they graduate.

The school’s concern for the intellectual and emotional development of its pupils is evident through the five-year Future-Ready Girls plan, a strategy unlike any other among UK schools. It builds on a strong academic foundation and extracurricular activities, all in a culture of openness that welcomes risk-taking, mistakes, and creative problem-solving. The same level of care is present in Headington’s pastoral care among the boarding school students, who receive constant support whenever needed.

The strategy includes supporting intellectual and emotional growth through investment in school and pastoral programs. Not only do Headington girls have access to classes that match their strengths, but they are also encouraged to do self-reflection that helps maintain positive mental health and well-being. The wealth of enrichment activities through sports teams, clubs, societies and school trips produces well-rounded graduates who go on to leading institutions such as Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are business partners of Study International


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