Space to breathe: innovative new pastoral initiative gives our pupils the gift of time - Framlingham College

In a world where super-slick technology firms are constantly battling for our attention, the Pastoral Team here at Framlingham College has taken a stand against the associated barrage of information by introducing a period of disconnect for our pupils. Once per week, in this 45-minute period, our pupils are simply instructed to switch off their phones and do whatever they wish with the time. But, as Deputy Head Pastoral Mr Lloyd is discovering, for young people who are constantly told to engage and be productive, switching off entirely is a challenge in itself.

“The most surprising reaction, from my point of view, is some of our pupils’ need to fill the period with structure,” says Deputy Head Pastoral, Mr Lloyd. “The truth is that modern teenagers are hyper-stimulated by either a very structured school day or their phones. So they don’t really have these opportunities to just switch off and explore their own thoughts and minds. So that’s the premise of this idea.”

The only parameters of the initiative are that pupils must disconnect digitally, so phones and computers must be switched off, and they are not allowed to leave the school site unless taken by a tutor. Pupils are allowed, in certain circumstances, to do work, but most are choosing not to use this period in this way, according to Mr Lloyd.

He continues: “The concept behind the idea is sacrosanct downtime. It’s different to lunchtime, where pupils are busy with things they have to do. But having this period ringfenced for downtime means that our pupils, in our ever more hectic world, have a period of simply being without the pressure of things they have to do.

“It also mirrors the structure of modern big multinational companies, which set aside time in their employees’ schedules for blue sky thinking, which is, in a way, what this period represents for our pupils as well.

“What we are seeing is pupils are slowly warming to the idea and realising they don’t need to reply to something on social media or feel under pressure to meet a deadline. There’s nothing, during this period, they are required to do. It does feel like a bit of a leap of faith for our pupils and we are open to seeing where it takes us.”

The wellbeing period format will continue on Wednesdays throughout this year and the Pastoral Team across both schools will be working collaboratively with pupils to ensure it is having a positive impact on their wellbeing and contributing to their overall education experience here.

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