Development_of_children_as_individuals (Sam Curran)

There has been considerable debate in society of whether a teacher’s role is a purely academic one or whether they have wider pastoral responsibilities in developing the children in a holistic sense so they become better people as well as being more intelligent. In the Government’s recent white paper publication much of the proposed changes to education in the UK were focused on academic matters such as the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (DfE 2010). However historical government publications such as the National Curriculum and acts of legalisation like the Education Reform Act 1988 have always had a pastoral orientation: one of the principal aims of the National Curriculum has been to help students to develop socially, morally, spiritually and in a cultural sense as well (DfE 2011). There has long been an academic/pastoral divide in schools according to Lang (2007 pg 314) where the pastoral and academic departments of a school worked remotely rather than in conjunction with each other which would have arguably greater effect on pupil’s welfare.

Fleming (2004) suggest that in addition to being a teacher of their subject, teachers are also teachers of children in that they teach them skills which will help them to be a better human being. Such lessons are taught subconsciously by the teacher as part of the hidden curriculum (Martin 1983 pg 128). Teachers have a lot of contact with pupils throughout their time at school: Bandura (1977) argues that this is crucial as he believes that most pupils learn from observing the behaviours of others. The implication of this in the classroom could be if teacher projects positive values of behaviour and life then the children would be likely to follow suit. On the other hand Bandura (1977) also states that observational learning does not necessarily result in a change in behaviour: the child may not like the teacher and make a conscious effort not to be like them. Vygotsky (1978) further reinforces this in his theory of the zone of proximal development: where children may learn more working in collaboration with their peers (who may be close to their ability level) than a more knowledgeable other such as a teacher or tutor. This may result in a case of divergence (Giles and Clair 1979) where a pupil deliberately isolates themselves from a group. In this sense, the child is going through the moratorium stage of their identity development (Marcia 1960) where the child is in a state of flux whilst trying to establish their identity. This could be an instance where a pupil needs some additional support from the school (such as from their form tutor) to guide them through this turbulent time.

The Government have long since acknowledged the form tutor’s role in developing children into citizens that make a positive contribution to society. The recent QTS standards (DfE 2012) suggest that form tutors can sometimes act in ‘loco parentis’ (in place of a parent) and that teachers should promote values such as trust and good behaviour. Form tutors have also been mainly responsible for teaching Citizenship since its inauguration in 2002 and this is a situation where could have useful applications in helping pupils to become more politically literate: for example, the tutor could hold discussions with the class concerning current affairs. This type of situated learning (Lave and Wenger 1990) could be useful in engaging children as there is a real-life context within it. According to Crick (1998) this method of teaching could also help pupils to understand key concepts in life such as democracy, the law and respect: a point which could take on even more prevalence given the recent events such as the widespread riots in London last year where 3,000 people were arrested and an estimated £200 million pounds of property damage (Guardian 2011). It could be argued that events like this could have been preventable (or at least less devastating) had children been educated about the right manners and values of which to display in life. An additional benefit of this could also lead to increased civic participation in events such as elections where turnout among young people is generally low: in 2010, 56% of young people aged 17-25 where not even registered on the electoral roll (BBC 2010). However the level of impact of teaching Citizenship in schools is questionable: as part of the recommendations set out in the school’s white paper of 2010, the Government is currently conducting a review into how it is being delivered in schools, although a recent Ofsted report found that over three-quarters of schools taught PSHE in a good or outstanding manner (Ofsted 2010).

There seems to be no doubt that teachers can have a role in developing pupils as well rounded individuals as well as improving their subject knowledge. This could be through their role as a form tutor or as a general subject specialist. However, the amount of influence teachers may depend a lot on the set of values and purposes a school has and its ethos (Fleming 2004). This may fluctuate quite heavily: some schools have studiously followed recent pastoral initiatives set out by the Government such as Every Child Matters whilst others might prioritise academic attainment more. The Academies act of 2010 may contribute to this further as schools are allowed more autonomy by the Government over how they organise their curriculum. Whilst it seems clearly important to develop pupils as individuals: Goleman (1995) suggests that emotional intelligence (such as knowing yourself well and showing empathy for others) could be more than important to pupils in their careers than actual academic acumen, it might be that the actual orientation of school has more of an impact than the way citizenship is being taught. In an era where academic results are becoming ever more important, it could be that the pastoral element of the curriculum in shaping children as human beings becomes neglected.



• Fleming, P. (2004). Becoming a Secondary School Teacher: How to make a success out of your initial teacher training. London: David Fulton. • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1990). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. • Lang, P. (2007). ‘Pastoral care and the role of the form tutor’ in Brooks, V., Abbott, I. and Bills, L. (eds.) Preparing to teach in secondary schools: a student’s guide to professional issues in secondary education. 2nd edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press. pp. 316-324 • Giles, H. & Clair, R. (1979) Language and Social Psychology. Oxford: Blackwell. • Martin, J. (1983) ‘What Should We Do with a Hidden Curriculum When We Find One?’ in Giroux, E. and Purpel, D. (eds.) The Hidden Curriculum and Moral Education. Berkeley: McCutchan Publishing Corporation. pp. 122–139 • Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Government Publications • Great Britain. Department for Further Education (2010) The Importance of Teaching: Schools White Paper [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 14 March 2012). • Great Britain. Qualifications and Development Agency (2011) The National Curriculum [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 15 March 2012). • Great Britain. Department for Further Education (2012) Standards for Qualified Teacher Status. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 March 2012). • Great Britain. Ofsted (2010) Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education in Schools. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 March 2012). • Great Britain. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (1998) Education for Citizenship and the teaching of democracy in Schools. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 17 March 2012).


• BBC (2010) Facebook and Electoral Commission launch voter push. Available at: (Accessed 17 March 2012). • McLeod, S. A. (2011). Simply Psychology. Available at: (Accessed 17 March 2012). • The Guardian (2011) Tottenham riots: a peaceful protest, then suddenly all hell broke loose. Available at: (Accessed 18 March 2012).


• Marcia, J. E., (1966), Development and validation of ego identity status, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 3, pp. 551-558.


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