Is the employment of pastoral support staff (PSS) working with students with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs changing the role and responsibilities of teachers in London and South East England?

Journal article

O'Toole, A. and Soan, S 2021. Is the employment of pastoral support staff (PSS) working with students with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs changing the role and responsibilities of teachers in London and South East England? Pastoral Care in Education.
AuthorsO'Toole, A. and Soan, S

This paper reports on key findings from a mixed method study analysing how teachers in secondary schools (students aged 12 – 19) in London and South East England view and experience pastoral care provided to students with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs. In England there is statistical evidence which shows schools are increasingly spending funding on support staff rather than teaching staff. The role of Pastoral Support Staff (PSS) who work with students with SEMH in some secondary schools is one such group of support staff. To date there has been limited research into how teachers perceive these changes and the effects on their role and responsibilities. The views of fifty-one respondents were gathered using an online semi-structured survey, followed by semi-structured interviews with six qualified teachers. Using a figured worlds conceptual framework, teachers’ perceptions of the use of pastoral support staff and the delivery of pastoral care in their schools, and therefore their worlds, were analysed. The findings were analysed using Hoy’s (2012) and Tschannen-Moran’s (2014) work on trust in schools exploring the trust dynamic between PSS and teachers. Results show that the teachers who participated in this research felt there was a lack of information sharing between different PSS and teachers and have seen the separation of pastoral care from the role of teacher leading to confusion around their responsibilities.

KeywordsSEMH; Pastoral care; Pastoral support staff (PSS); Teachers' role and responsibilities; Social Emotional and Mental Health
JournalPastoral Care in Education
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Official URL
Publication dates
Online23 Apr 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted21 Mar 2021
Deposited15 Apr 2021
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Output statusPublished

Baier, A. (1987) “Trust and antitrust,” Ethics, Vol. 96, No.2, pp 231-60.
Bajorek, Z., Gulliford, J. and Taskila, T. (2014) “Healthy teachers, higher marks? Establishing a link between teacher health and wellbeing, and student outcomes.” London: The Work Foundation.
Bakhtin, M. (1981) The dialogic imagination: Four essays by M.M. Bakhtin. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Ball, S.J. (2013) “The Education Debate.” Bristol: Policy Press.

Beynon, T. (1985) Initial Encounters in the Secondary School. Barcombe: Falmer Press.

Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Brown, P., Martin, C., Russell, A. and Webster, R. (2009)
“Deployment and impact of support staff project.” Institute of Education, University of London. Available: .

Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J. (1977) Reproduction in education, society, and culture. Beverley Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

British Educational Research Association (2018) “Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research.” BERA.

Brown, R. (2018) “Mental health and wellbeing provision in schools – Review of published policies and information. Research report.” October 2018: DfE.

Bryk, A. S., Lee, V. and Holland, P. B. (1993) “Catholic schools and the com- mon good.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bukor, E. (2015) “Exploring teacher identity from a holistic perspective: reconstructing and reconnecting personal and professional selves.” Teachers and Teaching, April 3, 2015, 21 3, pp 305-327. DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2014.953818.

Burgess, S. and Allen, R. (2012) “How long are teachers staying for?” Centre for market and public organisation research in public policy. Available at:

Carrington, B. and Skelton, C. (2003) “Re-thinking 'role models': equal opportunities in teacher recruitment in England and Wales.” Journal of Education Policy, 18(3): pp 253-265. DOI: 10.1080/02680930305573.

Carter, B. and Stevenson, H. (2012) “Teachers, workforce remodelling and the challenge to labour process analysis.” Work, Employment and Society, 26(3): pp 481-496.

Cefai, C. and Cavioni, V. (2014) “From Neurasthenia to Eudaimonia: Teachers’ Well-Being and Resilience.” in Cefai, C. and Cavioni, V. (eds) Social and Emotional Education in Primary School. New York: Springer.
Clement, M. (2017) “Why Combatting Teachers' Stress is Everyone's Job.” The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 90 (4): pp 135-138. DOI: 10.1080/00098655.2017.1323519.
Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) 5th edition. “Research methods in education.” London: Routledge.

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2007) 6th edition. “Research methods in education.” London: Routledge.
Cooper, P. (2008) “Nurturing attachment to school: Contemporary perspectives on social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.” Pastoral Care in Education. 26: pp 13–22.
Cooper, P., Drummond, M. J., Hart, S., Lovey, J. and McLaughlin, C. (2000) “Positive alternatives to exclusion.” New York: Routledge Falmer.

Creswell, J. W. and Plano Clark, V. L. (2011) Designing and conducting mixed methods research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Day, C., Kington, A., Stobart, G. and Sammons, P. (2006) “The personal and professional selves of teachers: stable and unstable identities.” British Educational Research Journal, August 2006, Vol.32, No.4: pp 601-616. DOI: pdf/10.1080/01411920600775316

Department for Education (DfE) (2011) “Teachers’ Standards.” DfE.

Department for Education (DfE) (2015a) “Working together to safeguard children A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.” DfE.
Department for Education (DfE) (2015b) “Professional standards for teaching assistants - Departmental advice for headteachers, teachers, teaching assistants, governing boards and employers.” London: DfE.
Department for Education (DfE) (2016) “Schools workforce in England 2010 to 2015: trends and geographical comparisons.” London: DfE.

Department for Education (DfE) (2017b) School Workforce in England: November 2016. Available at:

Department for Education (DfE) (2018a) “School workforce in England.” November 2017. London: DfE.

Department for Education (DfE) (2018b) “Statement of intent on the diversity of the teaching workforce – setting the case for a diverse teaching workforce.” London: DfE.

Edmund, N. and Price, M. (2009) “Workforce Re-modelling and pastoral care in schools: a diversification of roles or a de-professionalisation of functions?” Pastoral Care in Education. 27 (4): pp 301-311.

Egalite, A. J., Kisida, B. and Winters, M. A. (2015) “Representation in the classroom: The effect of own-race teachers on student achievement.” Economics of Education Review, 45: pp 44-52.

Emmer, E.T., and Stough, L.M. (2001) “Classroom Management: A Critical Part of Educational Psychology, With Implications for Teacher Education.” Educational Psychologist, 36 (2): pp 103-112, DOI: 10.1207/S15326985EP3602_5.

Felner, R., Seitsinger, A., Brand, S., Burns, A. and Bolton, N. (2007) “Creating small learning communities: Lessons from the project on high-per- forming learning communities about “what works” in creating productive, developmentally enhancing, learning contexts.” Educational Psychologist, 42: pp 209–221.

Frankfort-Nachmias, C. and Nachmias, D. (1992) 4th edition. “Research Methods in the Social Sciences.” London: Edward Arnold.

Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., and Paris, A. H. (2004). “School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence.” Review of Educational Research. 74: pp 59–109.

Freiberg, H. J., Huzinec, C. A., and Templeton, S. M. (2009) “Classroom management–A pathway to student achievement: A study of fourteen inner-city elementary schools.” The Elementary School Journal.110(1): pp 63–80.

Goddard, R.D., Skrla, L. and Salloum, S.J. (2017) “The Role of Collective Efficacy in Closing Student Achievement Gaps: A Mixed Methods Study of School Leadership for Excellence and Equity.” Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk. (JESPAR). DOI: 10.1080/10824669.2017.1348900.

Graves, S. and Williams, K. (2017) “Investigating the role of the HLTA in supporting learning in English schools.” Cambridge Journal of Education, 47(2): pp 265-276, DOI: 10.1080/0305764X.2016.1157138.

Hajdukova, E.B., Hornby, G. and Cushman, P. (2014) “Pupil–teacher relationships: perceptions of boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.” Pastoral Care in Education, 32(2): pp 145-156.

Hallam, S., Castle, F. and Rogers, L. (2005) “Research and evaluation of the behaviour improvement programme.” Department for Education and Skills, London, UK.

Hamblin, D. (1978) “The teacher and pastoral care.” Oxford: Blackwell.

Hanley, T. (2017) ‘Supporting the emotional labour associated with teaching: considering a pluralistic approach to group supervision’, Pastoral Care in Education, 35:4, pp 253-266, DOI: 10.1080/02643944.2017.1358295

Harris, A. and Spillane, J. (2008) “Distributed leadership through the looking glass.” Management in Education. 22: pp 31-34. 10.1177/0892020607085623.

Herrero, J., Estévez, E. and Musitu, G. (2006) “The relationships of adolescent school-related deviant behaviour and victimization with psychological distress: Testing a general model of the mediational role of parents and teachers across groups of gender and age.” Journal of Adolescence. 29: pp 671–690.

Holland, D., Lachicotte Jr., W., Skinner, D. and Cain, C. (2001) Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hoy, W. (2012) “School characteristics that make a difference for the achievement of all students: A 40-year odyssey.” Journal of Educational Administration. 50(1): pp 76–97.
Humphrey, N., Lendrum, A. and Wigelsworth, M. (2010) “Social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) programme in secondary schools: national evaluation.” Department for Education.
Hong, J. Y. (2012) “Why do some beginning teachers leave the school, and others stay? Understanding teacher resilience through psychological lenses.” Teachers and Teaching, 18 (4): pp 417-440. DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2012.696044.
Loeb, S., Darling-Hammond, L. and Luczak, J. (2005) “How teaching conditions predict teacher turnover in California schools.” Peabody Journal of Education. 80(3): pp 44-70.

Luekens, M. T. (2004) “Teacher attrition and mobility: Results from the teacher follow up survey. 2000-01.” Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. E.D. Tabs.

Lumby, J. (2016) “Distributed Leadership as a fashion or fad.” Management in Education. 30(4): pp 161-167.

McLean Davies, L., Dickson, B., Rickards, F., Dinham, S., Conroy, J. and Davis, R., (2015)
“Teaching as a clinical profession: translational practices in initial teacher education – an international perspective.” Journal of Education for Teaching, 41:5: pp 514-528. DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2015.1105537.

Mertens, D. M. (2015) “Mixed Methods and Wicked Problems.” Journal of Mixed Methods Research. 9(1): pp 3–6. DOI: 10.1177/1558689814562944.
Mihalas, S., Morse, W. C., Allsopp, D. H. and McHatton, P. A. (2009) “Cultivating caring relation- ships between teachers and secondary students with emotional and behavioral disorders: Implications for research and practice.” Remedial and Special Education. 30: pp 108–125.
Morse, J.M. (2003) ‘Principles of Mixed Methods and Multimethod Research Design’ in Tashakkori, A. and Teddlie, C. (eds.) Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (pp 241-272).

Murphy, J. and Holste, L. (2016) “Explaining the effects of communities of pastoral care for students.” The Journal of Educational Research. 109 (5): pp 531-540. DOI:10.1080/00220671.2014.993460.

Office for National Statistics (2012) “International Migrants in England and Wales: 2011.”

Ofsted (2019) “The education inspection framework, Framework for inspections carried out, respectively, under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 (as amended), section 109 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, the Education and Inspections Act 2006 and the Childcare Act 2006 (draft)” Ofsted.
Pomeroy, E. (1999) “The teacher–student relationship in secondary school: Insights from excluded students.” British Journal of Sociology of Education. 20: pp 465–482.
Quint, J. (2006) “Meeting five critical challenges of high school reform: Lessons from research on three reform models.” New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Reinbergs, E. and Fefer, SA. (2017) “Addressing trauma in schools: Multitiered service delivery options for practitioners.” Psychol Schs. 2018,55: pp 250– 263.

Roffey, S. (2012) “Student well-being: Teacher well-being – two sides of the same coin.” Educational and Child Psychology. 29(4): pp 8–17.
Rice O’Toole, A-M. (2020) “The role of qualified teachers in the modern secondary school: Whose responsibility is pastoral care in secondary schools?” (unpublished thesis) Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.
Rubie-Davies, C., Blatchford, P., Webster, R., Koutsoubou, M. and Bassett, P. (2010) “Enhancing learning? A comparison of teacher and teaching assistant interactions with pupils.” School Effectiveness and School Improvement. 21 (4): pp 429–449.
Rudduck, J., Chaplain, R. and Wallace, G. (eds.) (1996) “School Improvement: what can pupils tell us?” London: David Fulton.
Silverman, D. (2006) 3rd edition. “Interpreting qualitative data: Methods for analyzing talk, text and interaction.” London: Sage.

Swain-Bradway, J., Pinkney, C. and Flannery, K. B. (2015) “Implementing Schoolwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in High Schools: Contextual Factors and Stages of Implementation.” Teaching Exceptional Children, 47(5): pp 245–255.

Sweetman, D., Badiee, M. and Creswell, J.W. (2010) “Use of the Transformative Framework in Mixed Methods Studies.” Qualitative Inquiry, 16(6): pp 441-454.

Taber, K.S. (2009) “Learning from experience and Teaching by Example: Reflecting Upon Personal Learning Experience to Inform Teaching Practice.” Journal of Cambridge Studies, March 2009, Vol.4, No.1, pp 82-91.

Teddlie, C. and Yu, F. (2007) “Mixed methods sampling: A typology with examples.” Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1, pp 77-100.

Tschannen-Moran, M. (2014) “Trust Matters: Leadership for Successful Schools.” 2nd Edition. London: John Wiley and Sons.

Tschannen-Moran, M. and Hoy, W.K. (2000) “A multidisciplinary analysis of the nature, meaning and measurement of trust”, Review of Educational Research, Vol. 70 No. 4: pp 547-92.
Tucker, S. (2013) “Pupil vulnerability and school exclusion: developing responsive pastoral policies and practices in secondary education in the UK.” Pastoral Care in Education, 31(4): pp 279-291. DOI: 10.1080/02643944.2013.842312.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Weare, K. and Nind, M. (2011) “Health promotion international.” Volume: 26: pp 1460-2245.
Wei, F. (2007) “Cross-cultural teaching apprehension: A co-identity approach to minority teachers.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 110: pp 5–14.
Wentzel, K. R. (2002) “Are effective teachers like good parents? Teaching styles and student adjustment in early adolescence.” Child Development, 73: pp 287–301.
Yin, R. K. (2009) “Case study research: Design and methods.” 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Permalink -

Restricted files

Accepted author manuscript

  • 7
    total views
  • 1
    total downloads
  • 1
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

The coproduction illusion: considering the relative success rates and efficiency rates of securing an Education, Health and Care plan when requested by families or education professionals
Soan, Sue and Boddison, Adam 2021. The coproduction illusion: considering the relative success rates and efficiency rates of securing an Education, Health and Care plan when requested by families or education professionals. JORSEN. 21 (3).
Soan, S. and Appleby, B. 2021. Editorial. PRACTICE: Contemporary Issues in Practitioner Education. 3 (1), pp. 1-4.
Universal approaches to support children’s physical and cognitive development in the early years
Soan, S. and Hutton, E. 2021. Universal approaches to support children’s physical and cognitive development in the early years. Abingdon, Oxon Routledge.
Challenges of multi-professional working within one English Higher Education Institution: ‘We hit a giant’: is this a shared experience?
Soan, S., Delahunt, T. and Le Moine, G. 2020. Challenges of multi-professional working within one English Higher Education Institution: ‘We hit a giant’: is this a shared experience? PRACTICE.
Predictors and mediators of European student teacher attitudes toward autism spectrum disorder
Lindblom, A., Dindar, K., Soan, S., Kärnä, E., Roos, C. and Carew, M.T. 2020. Predictors and mediators of European student teacher attitudes toward autism spectrum disorder. Teaching and Teacher Education. 89 (102993), pp. 1-10.
Providing support to senior managers in schools via ‘clinical’ supervision: a restorative and purposeful professional and personal space
Reid, H. and Soan, S. 2018. Providing support to senior managers in schools via ‘clinical’ supervision: a restorative and purposeful professional and personal space. Professional Development in Education.