Providing pastoral care to rural students in metropolitan boarding schools

Year: 2017

Author: Crickshank, Vaughan, McDonald, Abbey, Corbett, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The expectations and requirements of what pastoral care involves in educational contexts is ever shifting in response to the evolving challenges faced by students and staff alike. For students living in regional areas, this uncertainty can be increased because the communities they live in are themselves in transformation; established ways of living, working and thinking are heavily challenged by many social change forces. This puts the "pastor" in a whole new situation because the pasture itself is precarious. When students from regional areas move to attend larger city schools, the boarding houses they live in can become a special "pastoral" location.

The Tasmanian Government has recently announced plans for numerous regional high schools to expand in order to also offer grades 11 and 12. Although this policy was officially driven by demand from school communities who want improved educational outcomes for their teenagers, being able to stay at home while completing their compulsory education can have implications for the teachers and boarding house staff previously entrusted to providing their pastoral care. If reduced number of rural students choose to attend metropolitan boarding houses this will change the demographics of boarding house populations so that rural students could potentially be a minority amongst international students. This change will have implications for how/what kind of pastoral care is provided in these boarding houses, and how boarding staff/teachers are in turn prepared to provide appropriate pastoral care.

This presentation extends on our 2016 AARE presentation by acknowledging how the rural upbringing of many boarding house students can influence the pastoral care they require. We draw on our perspectives as researchers who have also worked in boarding houses during our teacher training, teaching career, and now academic career. This examination of a Tasmanian context might be transferable to other regional/rural areas around Australia.