Naturally we want to protect and support our pupils, helping them to develop into healthy, fulfilled and resilient people and make sure they feel safe and enjoy their time at Westminster. Yet we also want to nurture their own pastoral skills, encouraging them to care for others and to act thoughtfully and compassionately.
We ensure that pupils receive both support and guidance from a variety of sources, primarily members of staff but also trusted peers. As well as a dedicated housemaster, each pupil has a personal tutor who has been assigned to him or her specifically and who knows and supports the pupil throughout his or her time at Westminster.
Additionally, pupils can always access the wider pastoral resources of the school, such as our Chaplain, the Counselling Team and a team of pupils who have been trained as Peer Supporters. We also aim to keep the channels of communication between pupils, teachers and parents as open and straightforward as possible.
Underpinning our care of pupils is a set of shared values: for example, Westminster has clear rules about alcohol, smoking and drugs and it is made clear that bullying in any form is unacceptable. Those values are made explicit in our school policies on Safeguarding and Anti-Bullying.
The school also has procedures in place relating to issues such as pupil safety on school visits, behaviour, rewards and sanctions, complaints procedures and general health and safety concerns. These policies can be viewed online. For more detailed information about pupil welfare at the School, please see the sections below.
RSHE and Wellbeing
The aim of RSHE (Relationships, Sex and Health Education) and Wellbeing at Westminster is to provide all pupils with a holistic curriculum that transcends individual lessons, enabling valuable messages to become a part of whole-school life, supporting pupils into adulthood. To achieve this goal, all pupils follow a spiral curriculum, designed so that important themes outlined in the statutory guidance Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education (DfE, 2020), our RSE policy and beyond are revisited throughout a pupil’s time at Westminster: key messages are reinforced and built upon each year at developmentally appropriate stages.
The curriculum is divided into three main themes:
- Health and Wellbeing – puberty, mental health, resilience, keeping active, and healthy eating.
- Relationships – respectful and healthy relationships (both on- and off-line), kindness and sex education.
- Living in the Wider World – career planning, financial literacy and exploring our rights and responsibilities.
Our aim is to help pupils to:
- respect differences of attitudes and opinions;
- challenge discrimination and stereotypes;
- develop resilience to be able to recover from setbacks and challenging periods in their lives;
- build the capacity to forge positive relationships in their lives;
- understand intimacy, including romantic and sexual intimacy;
- know how to access support and advice around all aspects of health (sexual, mental or physical);
- have a basic understanding of the law (including the Equality Act 2010) as relates to relationships, consent and sexual activity.
- understand the reasons for delaying sexual experience and for any sexual activity to be protected;
- have an understanding of STIs;
- have knowledge of contraception;
- avoid being pressured into unwanted sexual activity;
- use social media appropriately, lawfully and positively;
- manage strong feelings (including those of sexual attraction);
- develop a support network of reliable friends and adults.
Delivery of timetabled lessons for all year groups is taught by teachers who have on-going professional development training across a range of topics which fall under the aegis of RSHE, and who are also experienced teachers of other subjects at Westminster. Class sizes for these lessons are kept modest in size (usually 10 to 15 pupils), in order to allow for discussion and to foster an even more approachable setting given the nature of the subject.
The content of the lessons is created by two leads (one for the Upper School and one for the Lower School), each of whom tailors resources to be age appropriate for each year group, in line with the topics on the spiral curriculum. Pupil feedback from surveys conducted at the end of each half term also helps to ensure that content and topics help to fill any gaps in knowledge and tackle misconceptions across themes. These resources are then disseminated to those allocated to teach the course across the School.
The delivery of material is also supplemented by external providers throughout the course of the academic year, as well as supported through tutorial time. The Head of Wellbeing and the Heads of Year liaise to ensure that tutorial material is appropriate and in line with the spiral curriculum for each given year group. The Heads of Year in turn ensure that their tutor team is well equipped to deliver follow-up content. This allows for a multifaceted approach to the delivery of the same topic, allowing for reflection and more opportunity to discuss with a plethora of different staff members.
Contact the Head of Wellbeing
Staffing and Provision
The School’s Surgery is housed in the heart of the School and is staffed from 8.30am to 5.00pm by the School Nursing Sister, School Nurse and Medical Receptionist, as well as being supported by the Matrons who are all first aid qualified; outside of hours, support is available directly from the Matrons. Additionally, for boarders, the School Medical Officer (SMO) provides bi-weekly surgeries for pupils. The SMO also advises the School on important matters of policy and provides advice to the School on individual cases where necessary.
- For day pupils, the Surgery provides emergency care when needed as a supplement to the day pupils’ own GP provision.
- For boarders, the Surgery hosts the pupils’ GP surgery, supported as it is by two clinics a week hosted by the School’s GP.
The accommodation comprises two consulting rooms and a room to house pupils in need of rest, as well as bathroom and dispensing facilities. In addition, the boarding houses have separate rooms adjoined to each matron’s accommodation.
Pupil Health Updates
At the start of every term it is important for the School Nursing Sister to know whether pupils have received any form of medical treatment during the holidays and whether they are taking any new medication when they return to School.
- If a pupil has received any medical treatment or medication, please email the School Nursing Sister with details.
- If a pupil is unwell, please do not return them to School until they are fully recovered. In the case of diarrhoea and / or vomiting, pupils must not return to School until 48 hours after the last bout of illness.
Gillick Competency and Fraser Guidelines
Many of the pupils at Westminster are between the ages of 12 and 16 years: the Fraser Guidelines prevail. Gillick competency and Fraser guidelines refer to a legal case which looked specifically at whether doctors should be able to give contraceptive advice or treatment to under 16-year-olds without parental consent. But since then, they have been more widely used to help assess whether a child has the maturity to make their own decisions and to understand the implications of those decisions.
Contact the Surgery
Members of the School’s Counselling Team are available to pupils every week day, usually by appointment.
Led by Dr Rachel Acheson (Member of the Association of Child Psychotherapists – No 4749), the team includes two former Westminster housemasters – Dr Gabrielle Ward-Smith (a Deputy DSL) and Mr Teehan Page, as well as three Assistant School Counsellors. Westminster has also partnered with the Brent Centre for Young People, a leading mental health charity in North West London, who provide therapeutic support to Westminster pupils either online or from their clinic in Queen’s Park.
Dr Acheson and her team are able to provide a range of support to pupils as they navigate their way through the potential complexities of adolescent life. The support offered can range from occasional advice and reflection, to longer term work, as well as collaborative work with parents and families. The team is also able to refer pupils on to external therapeutic support or for psychiatric assessment.
The Counselling Team operates within established codes of practice in terms of confidentiality.
Dr Acheson also works with the Peer Supporters who are selected members of the Remove (Year 13) who provide an additional form of support to the pupils in the School. All Peer Supporters receive Safeguarding training and receive Listening Skills training, as well as advice and guidance about how to support pupils within the School. Further to this, they discuss and identify trends and patterns of behaviour, working strategically with other pupil leadership groups to provide responses to current issues within the School.
Contact the School Counsellor
The School’s Chapel is nestled in Purcell’s and yet, much like its ethos of welcome, remains available and open to all. Led by our Chaplain Fr Dan Warnke, the chaplaincy remains available to the entire school community, from pupils to porters, teachers to technicians, and everyone in between. At all levels of its provision, the Chaplaincy aims to model kindness and inclusivity, hospitality and integrity, dignity and love. Whilst opportunities for the spiritual and moral development of pupils are the responsibility of all staff in all areas of the curriculum and school life, more broadly, the promotion of the spiritual well-being of all staff and pupils is nurtured through the daily life of the chaplaincy.
One of the ways this happens is by sharing a meal. Eating together is an essential way that we form friendships and deepen our connections with one another and so, every week, the Chaplaincy hosts a breakfast where pupils have the opportunity to discuss contemporary issues affecting their day-to-day lives whilst also strengthening their understanding of how they can make stronger bonds between one another (particularly when we differ). The inter-faith dimension of these conversations is key to the flourishing of the chaplaincy.
Further to this, our Abbey services every week on Mondays and Fridays are uniquely held in Westminster Abbey, giving pupils and staff a chance to break from the norm and reflect on life as they encounter a totally different sense of time. Pupils take a full role in these services and will help in the preparation of readings, prayers, music, and a short address. Twice a term, there is also a celebration of Holy Communion in the Abbey’s Lady Chapel, plus weekly Compline for boarders. Roman Catholic pupils are able to receive Mass and to be prepared for confirmation with the assistance of Chaplains from Westminster Cathedral.
Amongst other key responsibilities in the School, each year, the School Chaplain helps to prepare pupils for confirmation in the Anglican Communion or, for those already receiving communion, to refresh their faith through attending confirmation preparation classes. He also arranges retreats on a regular basis.
Contact the School Chaplain
The School’s Safeguarding Team is led by James Kazi, Under Master (Designated Safeguarding Lead) and works alongside four Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads: Tasos Aidonis, Director of Upper School; Emma Blakemore, Head of RSHE and Wellbeing; Jeremy Kemball, Deputy Head (Boarding, Diversity and Inclusion, Partnerships); and Gabrielle Ward-Smith (former housemaster).
The group meets weekly to review safeguarding cases, to consider patterns and trends developing though the School, and to propose strategic responses as and where necessary.
Additionally, the Safeguarding Team also meets fortnightly with representatives from all the key pastoral areas within the School (Chaplaincy, Counselling, Learning Development and Medical) and they liaise carefully both internally with colleagues and also with external organisations such as the Westminster Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership and other Children’s Services. Further support is sometimes sought from specialist organisations such as, amongst others, the NSPCC, Brooke Advisory and Child Bereavement UK.
Contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead