How we look after students

Pastoral care and support is as important as academic challenge and inspiration at Exeter Mathematics School. It is one of our greatest strengths and is highly valued by students and their families. We truly believe our pastoral care is second to none and plays a significant part in enabling our students to exceed academic expectations.

As a small school supported by a very large college, we are in a fortunate position to offer a close-knit, personalised, family atmosphere together with the very significant support network of the college. Pastoral care permeates all we do; whilst we have a dedicated team of pastoral staff, we recognise that every member of our community has a part to play in caring for one another. Students report that it is this community-spirit and kindness that surprises and delights them, enabling them to really thrive.

“Everyone is super accepting, it’s the first school where bullying hasn’t been a severe problem for me.”

[EMS student, 2020]

“There is a good support system in place for people at EMS and that was one of the main reasons I felt comfortable applying.”

[EMS student, 2020]

Although we hope and expect students to have a fantastic time studying with us, we recognise that it can be challenging too: adapting to working in a new environment, making big decisions about the future, and working towards examinations which feel important can all take their toll. Students require support at different times and in different ways. Our goal is to adapt to each student’s needs, to support and encourage them when they are low and celebrate with them when they succeed. Above all else we want every student to know they are cared for and that we’ve got their back.

“It came as a bit of a surprise to see just how important mental health was here.”

[EMS student, 2020]

“One of the main things I’ve noticed about EMS is that everyone genuinely cares about you, it’s a lovely atmosphere!”

[EMS student, 2020]

All students have an academic tutor who meets with them regularly to support their progress. There is more information about their role in the section below. In addition, we have dedicated pastoral staff who are available to provide support and guidance to students and we have a peaceful room tucked away upstairs for students to come to if they need to escape the busyness of the day or have a chat with a member of the pastoral team. We encourage students to talk to whomever they feel most comfortable, whether that be a member of pastoral team, their academic tutor, another teacher, or the school administrator: we’re all on hand to help when needed.

“The great thing about EMS is that you’re never alone. The pastoral team offers a (metaphorical) shoulder to cry on, a sounding-board for thoughts and ideas, and a space to share and celebrate your successes — academic or otherwise. This may not be mathematically true but in the pastoral world, nothing is unsolvable. We can work alongside you through anything.”

[Shirin, Deputy Safeguarding Lead – Pastoral, 2020]

Our tutor system

The tutor is the key link between parents, subject teachers, and a whole range of support services, both with us and through our partner, Exeter College.

Initially, students are assisted in adapting to the unique learning environment at EMS through our induction programme. Tutors aid students in building effective relationships with their teachers and peers; induction includes orientation of the school, Exeter College and the University of Exeter. Tutors also discuss with every student their academic goals and targets for their courses.

Throughout their time at EMS, students receive information, advice and guidance on varied topics: from university applications and living away from home, to managing workload and personal health.  More information about this crucial part of our curriculum can be found on our Tutorial Programme page.

Through our link with Exeter College, all students have access to;

a) A team of counsellors who provide confidential support for a range of issues – school worries, home concerns, personal problems or relationship difficulties

b) A student welfare advisor, who can also help and advise with issues surrounding childcare, benefits, attendance, supported housing and emergency accommodation.

c) For students in care or leaving care, there is support in place to offer advice, guidance, advocacy and financial assistance throughout their time at EMS.

d) A medical room on the Hele Road site that is open during term; students can attend with any health concern and gain advice and support from college nurses, who can also be contacted by telephone.

Whilst the tutor is an important link between pastoral services, home and school, the support provided by the tutor is designed to assist students towards independence and we encourage students to access resources directly where possible.  Our pastoral staff, SEND support staff, residential staff, teachers, tutors and administrators all work closely together to ensure each students has the support and guidance they need and we encourage parents to get in touch with the tutor if they have any questions or concerns.

Safeguarding

The safety of all students is very important to us. We have a dedicated safeguarding team, who work to ensure that students are safe in School, at College, and in their personal lives. All students are asked to have their student identification with them at all times whilst on school or college sites.

Joe Rowing

Safeguarding Lead

Grace Strachan

Deputy Safeguarding Lead

Shirin Monks

Deputy Safeguarding Lead

If you want to speak to someone about a safeguarding concern or have any questions about the pastoral aspects of life at EMS, then contact JoeRowing@exeterms.ac.uk.  Further Safeguarding information can be found on the Devon Safeguarding Children Board website.

Special educational needs and disabilities

Our Approach

Our goal is that all of our students achieve their potential regardless of any difficulties they may face. Part of achieving this is by identifying and appropriately supporting students with SEND. We collaborate with students, parents and other professionals to identify needs, provide appropriate individual support and review it to ensure it works.

We recognise that a student’s needs may be, but are not exhausted to, physical, emotional, social or cognitive. There is no “one size fits all”. Essentially if students, or their parents, feel as though they may require additional support with accessing any element of their school life, we want to work with them to overcome this.

‘I’ve never felt more individualised care with my education and extra needs, than at EMS.’

[EMS student, 2020]

Identifying Needs

Even before joining EMS we want to ensure that we can offer appropriate support to potential students, therefore during the application process students and teachers are asked to let us know about any identified needs. Students with identified SEND meet with a member of our support staff prior to joining the school. This is not part of our selection process; it is a chance for any potential adjustments to be discussed and more importantly a chance for students to meet a friendly face who will support them during their time with us.

Once students are attending EMS, staff are extremely vigilant regarding needs that may not yet have been identified. They get to know the students well, in order to provide individually tailored support. Parents are also encouraged to get in touch and let us know of any concerns that they have. It’s not uncommon for needs to be identified once a student has joined the school.

‘At interview, I really appreciated the opportunity for a chat with a member of the Pastoral staff so that by the time I joined the school I already knew a familiar face.’
[EMS student, 2020]

Transition

We meet with each of our students during their first term with us, this is to find out a little more about support they have had in their previous setting, if any, and what help they may need from us. If felt necessary by the student, we will communicate further with their previous setting to gain a more detailed picture of need.  All of the staff at EMS instil a relaxed positive work environment which usually means that students do not feel they need much adaptation to our ‘normal’ school day however, we allow space for those who do need a little support and make it very clear where assistance can be found.

‘As a student with Autism, I have always felt well supported at EMS with both adapting to the school when I joined and how any changes to routine are communicated to all students. I welcome the opportunity to talk through any stresses or worries with whoever is in the pastoral office. I believe I have thrived at EMS and it has set me up well for the wider world.’
[EMS student, 2020]

Provision of Support

There is a genuine care from all staff at EMS about the student as a whole, not just with regards to academic achievement, we understand that a students barrier to learning may also be having a negative impact on their life in general and we do not shy away from addressing this and establishing strategies in order for them to thrive. When a student is identified as having SEND, we take action to support effective learning by removing barriers to learning and putting effective provision in place.

This SEND support takes the form of a four-part cycle known as the graduated approach – assess, plan, do, review.

  1.  Teachers, tutors and SEND coordinators all contribute to assess the needs of each student.
  2.  With each student’s input and parent/carer’s where appropriate we decide whether to make a plan to put in place any additional support needed during class and exams.
  3. Teachers, tutors and the support team are then responsible for implementing and doing the adjustments outlined for each student.
  4. The provision of support for each student with SEND is reviewed termly or when changes are necessary.

 

Although there is a specific process as outlined above, our open-door policy and approachable staff mean that those with SEND can always access support. This support can look as simple as a 5 minute chat and a place to have a nap in order to recharge and get back to what’s most important…maths (physics and computer science).

‘The SEND support at EMS is proper cracking and Grace is an absolute gem.’
[EMS student, 2020]

How we work with Exeter College

Our link with Exeter College not only means that we can get advice from the wealth of experience their learning support team has but that we also are fortunate enough to use their expertise to support our assessments of need. For example, when students show signs of having a Specific Learning Need, they are referred to Exeter College for a screening assessment which can identify issues in areas such as reading, writing, memory and processing. The result of such an assessment is usually used as evidence for exam access arrangements such as extra time.

Key Staff

Joe Rowing (joerowing@exeterms.ac.uk), is the school’s SENCO and supports Grace Strachan (gracestrachan@exeterms.ac.uk) who manages support in school for which all staff members are responsible.

‘Being a part of EMS is something that is tricky to explain as there really is no other school like it that I know of…I spend a lot of my time inspired by the students, not only by their incredible brains and the way they think but also by their resilience, goofy sense of humour and ability to support one another. Forget anything you may think about EMS, come here to see for yourself how incredibly diverse and inclusive it is. Our pastoral and SEND care comes from a place of understanding and acceptance that things can be difficult and that sometimes we all need someone to listen, help and tell us it’ll be ok.’
[Grace, Deputy Safeguarding Lead – Residential and SEND, 2020]

Further Links

Our SEND policy and SEN Report can be found on our policy page – click here to access the page.

We have created a video tour of our school which students with Autism or Anxiety may find useful to view prior to coming to the school for the first time – click here to view.

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