The wellbeing of our students, and indeed of all those involved with The Matthew Arnold School, is paramount. Healthy, happy and safe individuals thrive and make progress; stressed, tired and unhappy ones don’t. Despite our acknowledged outstanding record for safeguarding and student welfare, we never rest on our laurels and constantly seek new ways to promote the wellbeing of all. We start this every day by being on the school gate to welcome each student, and finish in the same way to ensure they leave the school site safely and positively.
All staff are responsible for the safeguarding of the children in their care, and all staff receive meticulous training, both initial and ongoing. The safeguarding lead and his dedicated team are highly visible and known to all staff and students. The school complies fully with all Surrey and Trust standards including background checks on staff and regular visitors to school. Safeguarding notices are prominently displayed and all adults wear identity badges. The school site is secure - all boundary fencing is in place and we have electronic gates at the entrance to the school site. Staff and students are highly familiar with emergency procedures and carry out practice drills extremely competently.
The Tutor System
All students have a form tutor, whom they see on a daily basis. Their form tutor is the person who knows them the best, and who is their first port of call for any questions or concerns. Each year group has a head of year, selected for the position because of their proven track record of care and intervention. The form tutors and heads of year move with their students, providing a long-term and stable relationship. The tutor programme is comprehensive and a valued part of the school day. Personal, social and health education, e-safety and sex and relationships education is delivered in part and where appropriate through the tutor programme. Social, moral and spiritual issues are delivered though a weekly assembly and expanded on in tutor time. British values are explored. Academic progress is monitored and discussed, with opportunities for small intervention groups and one-to-one sessions.
The students explore the ‘My EDSA’ programme, where they develop their own character and culture, as well as contribute to the ethos of the school and wider community.
Once a week, students have a wellbeing lesson, delivered by their form tutor. This complements and builds on the tutor programme, but also focuses on enjoyment for its own sake. Students are given the opportunity to engage in a diverse range of activities, from yoga to cake decoration to code-cracking. Similarly, staff wellbeing and work life balance is a priority for the leadership team, ensuring that our teachers are energetic, positive and in school every day!
We take our duties very seriously, but actively enjoy being there for students before and after school and during break times. Our staff are keen to volunteer for duties, and at any one time we have at least 20 members of staff on duty at break, including every one of the senior team. There is no area of the school where students don’t feel safe and nowhere where a student is not in sight of a member of staff on duty. This includes toilets, corridors, the Café, sports and play facilities and all outside areas.
In addition to the pastoral system detailed above, we offer a dedicated programme for students who experience obstacles to their learning. We understand that students may need specialist support and mentoring from time to time, for a range of reasons. Our Aspire centre offers short and longer-term programmes of respite and mentoring. We are also extremely fortunate to work with East-to-West, a youth relational counselling charity, and have built up a long and extremely effective relationship with our full-time counsellor.
All schools experience bullying; nationally produced statistics show us that we are foolish to ignore it. It is how a school deals with bullying that is important. We are extremely proactive in our approach. Our school policy reflects the latest national advice and thinking. We involve our students, parents and staff in drawing up and implementing our policy. We educate our children on living and working in a community, and we help them to understand the difference between bullying and friendship issues. We never condone or ignore bullying, but work in a restorative way to deal with situations, listening carefully to all sides of a problem and seeking to understand the motivation. At the same time, the school will not hesitate to use the most stringent sanctions when they are needed.