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Virtual Pastoral Care A Priority

You know the world has shifted on its axis when the call is ‘Daughters, lock up your Mothers.’ Covid19 saw us rush to care for our over 70s, those who are immunocompromised and to regather the clan. And so we all went home.


There has been an undeniably steep learning curve in coping with Level 4 Lockdown. We have all learned a new language: stay in your bubble, social distancing, zoom conferences, iso tips, ‘Stay home, Save lives’. We have all learned how to use technology to connect safely with friends, family and workmates, and for many of us that has been monumental. We have all learned that this new normal is different but it’s doable. With this worldwide reset, we have learned what, and who, make a massive difference in our country. We have been steadily moved from the fear zone through the learning zone and to the growth zone.

The Prime Minister, from the outset, has urged the country to be kind, connected and calm to get through. Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged the need to support New Zealanders mental health and wellbeing in this challenging time. We are all encouraged to stay connected with others, to limit the amount of news we follow, to be active, to help others and to seek professional support if we’re not coping. Each of us can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.

Woodford House’s Pastoral Care team has shifted its onsite care for students and staff to online ‘virtual’ care. Dr Lee Knight, Nurse Caryn Williams, the Deans, the Chaplain, Mrs Raewyn Hedge, the Director of Boarding, Mrs Kelly Ives and the Global Director, Ms Gabrielle Nguyen continue to work with the Senior Leadership Team to support our school community in lockdown.

Homeroom Mentors, Heads of Faculties, classroom Teachers and Administration Staff are letting the Pastoral Care Team know about any girl who is finding isolation tough. We are ‘triaging’ concerns or difficulties to access the required support.  Some girls need IT troubleshooting, others need a friendly conversation, while others need a professional ear. We are fortunate to have our own school psychologist, Dr Lee Knight, who is available to work in a teleconferenced appointment.  Our Wellbeing Group, Nurse Caryn and the Sports Department, are offering proactive and concrete ways to stay upbeat and healthy.

Peer contact is vital. To foster connectedness, many of our senior students have volunteered to make contact with both our international students who find themselves here, often without their families, and with other girls who are looking for peer support . Thank you to Service Prefect Ellie Knowles and Global Prefect Alia Wentz for their work with the Global and Service Committees. Thanks too to Head Prefect Ella Ruddle and Deputy Prefect Holly Lin and the wider Prefect Team for their work in maintaining a real sense of community with their daily isolation challenges and overall support. Dr Lee and I have been impressed by the thoughtful maturity of girls who have been looking out for their friends and have indicated when someone needs a check in or extra support.

17th Century clergyman, Thomas Fuller said, “Health is not valued till sickness comes.”

This topical truism has seen New Zealand act swiftly and decisively. I’d like to commend and thank those members of our school community who are working for us all as essential workers despite the personal risk. I have talked to many Woodford House students who are persevering with their work in supermarkets. You are walking the talk. Well done.

Isabel Pattullo at New World Havelock North

We are well resourced in our care of students and staff at Woodford House. That has not changed.  We will continue to be kind, calm and connected and to work safely in this ’growth zone’. Please let us know if and when we can help. The Deans’ email addresses are below.

Deans Contacts

Useful resource: Getting Thru Together

In Woodford House tradition, I must also end with a quote. One that I believe sums up the process of pastoral care in our community, virtual or otherwise, because we are a caring and compassionate community.

Awhina mai, awhina atu.” – Love and compassion received, love and compassion given.

Mrs Stephanie Russell, Deputy Principal – Wellbeing

stephanie.russell@woodford.school.nz