Senior School Deputy Head, Pastoral,Oliver Lloyd, has strong beliefs when it comes to the way people should feel engaging with each other. “I think you have to allow people their opinions and there needs to be a sense of acceptance,” he says.
Mr Lloyd was living in Hong Kong, setting up the Harrow branch of the internationally-renowned school, when Brexit was dominating headlines over here in the UK. He partially attributes people’s inability to accept other points of view to the furore around the issue. He says: “While I was in Hong Kong, I objectively watched Britain go from a country of lively civilised debate to somewhere where people are no longer tolerant of other opinions. I think Brexit really polarised opinion and I think children have seen this and learnt that it’s okay to dislike someone because of their views.”
It is exactly this phenomenon that Mr Lloyd is continuing to tackle here at Framlingham College. He adds: “My focus as Deputy Head, Pastoral is developing a culture of kindness where people are open to each other’s opinions and treat each other with respect, whether that’s in real life or increasingly on social media.
“We have a policy of inclusion and diversity here, which stipulates that pupils must be kind to others and respect the opinions of others, no matter who that individual is, what they look like or how they may think. By embedding this across the College, it gives us the opportunity to enable and encourage pupils to feel comfortable expressing themselves as well as listening to others.
“I think we have a role in educating children to be able to have these conversations in a mature and sensible manner without being divisive. If behaviour that needs to be called out goes unchecked, then that can make things very volatile. That’s where a teacher’s intervention has a real impact. ”
Mr Lloyd also recognises there has to be discipline and procedure for when opinions are voiced which could be considered extreme. “If a child has an extreme opinion, it has to be carefully managed. This is where adults come in to challenge extreme points of view and guide the conversation. Everyone in the College has a role to play. This is not just taught in PSHE or RSE lessons, but embedded in the culture of the College.”
While Mr Lloyd is clear he wants to encourage pupils to debate and converse in structured environments, where adults are part of these conversations, he has a zero-tolerance view on comments which could be considered misogynistic, racist or offensive to others. He says: “If a remark is offensive, in any way, then the pupil will be called in by their Housemaster or Housemistress and there will be escalation in terms of sanctions. We have strict procedures in place for this and we will not tolerate it here.”
A key tenet of developing good pastoral care policies is listening to pupils and ensuring that their voices are heard. Mr Lloyd says: “I think it’s important to get the pupils themselves to tell us what they think. We ensure that pupils can meet Mrs North and other senior members of staff so they can put their points of view across, and we can understand what’s going on in our school from a pupil’s perspective.”
One of the biggest issues affecting young people today is the prevalence of social media from an increasingly early age. While mobile phones are banned from the school day, Mr Lloyd recognises the positive potential of the devices. He says: “I’m a massive fan of technology but there needs to be education around it. I think, as a society, we are getting to the point where the internet needs to be more regulated.
“Banning phones from the school day ensures that our pupils get a break for at least the time they are in school. This is when we have the chance to educate them about online behaviour. I think it’s really good for each pupil’s mental health to have that break.
“We want to encourage pupils to use phones constructively for their huge creative potential without the pervasive negative impact of social media culture.”
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