The Pastoral aspect of our ethos aims to educate the whole person and build the emotional intelligence so vital for academic learning. It deals with the well-being of the girls by establishing boundaries, exploring attitudes and reinforcing values. The goal is to prepare the girls for a life in which they will be good citizens, make a contribution and take responsibility for their decisions. We want them to become leaders who are confident, resilient and mindful of their social responsibilities. We want good communication skills, the ability to resolve conflict and strong values to be part of their everyday lives.
There are around 12 girls per tutor group, and eight groups per grade. The girls meet with their tutors every morning and the relationships built in these small groups ensure that each of our girls is looked after. Pupils also find it easier to ask for emotional support from their teachers.
We acknowledge the fact that every girl learns differently and this quote by Albert Einstein informs the philosophy behind the support we provide: ‘ Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’
Accordingly, we provide coaching and assistance on all aspects of academic life: including time management, learning styles, learning skills, study skills, exam technique and exam concessions. Every girl is welcome and encouraged to make an appointment with the Academic Support Teacher to chat about her personal academic journey.
Counselling Policy at Herschel Senior School
The school counsellor’s core role at the Senior School is to look after the emotional lives of the girls while at school. We become involved when emotional issues impact a girl’s capacity for learning and her general wellbeing.
Counselling is voluntary and referrals come from various sources; the girls themselves, parents or teachers.
The first session usually comprises of an assessment of the young person’s mental state, and this informs our recommendation for further support. This could include a referral where the need for longer term therapy is indicated, providing feedback to parents (where applicable), liaising with the relevant teachers or offering short term supportive counselling at school.
Our work with the girls and the information shared in our sessions are strictly private and confidential. This means that the school counsellors at the Senior School are not ethically obligated to contact parents or caregivers. The rules of confidentiality are contracted with each girl when she comes to see a counsellor for the first time. Each girl has the choice to see the counsellor privately without any communication with parents, and we will respect this choice as long as the girl is not assessed to be at risk. If a girl discloses something that concerns us about her safety; physical and/or psychological; we are ethically obligated to contact parents or caregivers.
Confidentiality is vital if counselling is going to be effective and helpful. Please be reassured that our priority is to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the girls. The counsellors work from a strengths-and-systems-based perspective with the view to support and enhance healthy coping skills and support networks.
If you as parents have any issues or concerns about confidentiality please make an appointment for further discussion.
The Counselling Department
There are two full-time counselling positions at Herschel Girls Senior School; one is a full-time counsellor and the other position is shared by two part-time counsellors. We have a counselling receptionist that assists with the booking of appointments. We work closely with the Academic Support Team and the Pastoral Head.
All three counsellors are Clinical Social Workers with Master’s degrees and are registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions. We receive individual supervision and also engage in peer supervision and professional development.
The Careers counsellor helps girls to think about how they would like their careers to develop. She assists them with goal setting, planning their career journeys and provides them with information regarding subject choice and tertiary studies. The school arranges various events to facilitate career exploration, such as our in-house Careers Expo as well as a Universities Evening, hosting speakers from many local and international universities. A wide range of reading material containing information on possible careers is also available from the Careers counsellor.
2018 saw the implementation of the new innovative Vertical Tutor and House system at Herschel. It has meant a restructuring of the old grade system where girls were put into tutor groups according to their grades. The new system, implemented already in a number of schools in the Western Cape, places the girls in tutor groups with a vertical structure. This includes two or three girls from every grade, under the leadership of a Matric Leader as well as a tutor.
The core of this group remains the same each year, with each group losing only their Grade 12s and gaining new Grade 8s. The concept is built around the pastoral idea of a family unit, as the girls, as well as their tutor, get to know one another really well and form close bonds throughout their school careers.
The prominence of the four houses is increased as each of the 36 tutor groups is part of either Carter, Merriman, Rolt or Jagger. Each House is led by a House Director who is largely responsible for the house and, in particular, Grades 8, 11 and 12, as well as an Assistant Director who is responsible for Grades 9 and 10. The four houses are all named after the four eminent men who were present at the opening of Herschel in 1922.
Rolt is named after Reverend D Rolt, Dean of St George’s Cathedral. The house colour is yellow and the mascot is a rabbit.
Merriman is named after the Honourable J X Merriman, Minister of Education. The house colour is red and the mascot is a reindeer.
Jagger is named after our founder, the Honourable J W Jagger. The house colour is green and the mascot is a hippo.
Carter is named after William Marlborough Carter, who was Archbishop when the school was founded and a member of the first school Council. The house colour is blue and the mascot is a lemur.
Herschel is an Anglican School that provides our girls with spiritual guidance based on a strong value system. Pupils of all religious denominations, however, are warmly welcomed into an inclusive and caring environment where each girl can explore and develop her own spirituality. Pupils are also encouraged to develop an understanding of other cultures and religious groups.
There is a full-time ordained priest as Chaplain, who prepares pupils wishing to be confirmed and offers guidance in spiritual, moral and ethical issues. Religious instruction in the Anglican faith is provided and all pupils are expected to attend these lessons and chapel services are compulsory, too.
Learning to make a difference, is what we believe we give our girls here at Herschel. We hope that they will, through active involvement, learn that community service will not only make a difference to others’ lives, but also to their own. Service impacts people in various ways; it betters the lives of others while inspiring personal growth and it is a marvellous way to connect with one another and the greater community. Interacting with people from vastly different backgrounds helps our girls to learn patience, empathy and perspective. In the end, there is always a shared sense of fulfilment.
These are a number of activities the Herschel girls are involved in and organisations which we support:
Pupils from Thandokhulu High School attend formal History, Consumer Studies Physical Science and Computer Literacy lessons.
Learners from Kewtown Primary School in Athlone join Herschel volunteers for weekly Outreach Drama and Art lessons.
Grade 11 and 12 pupils from Langa High School and Herschel work together through old Mathematics examination papers once a week.
Catering, Drama and ICT peer tutoring sessions are very popular.
S.M.I.L.E. (St Mary’s Interactive Learning Experience) is a literacy and English programme run by Herschel girls in Grade 10 and higher for two primary schools.
JUMP HI (Junior Undiscovered Maths Prodigies – Herschel Initiative). This numeracy programme, involving primary schools from Athlone and Kewtown, is also run by our girls and is made possible by grants from the Ackerman Foundation.
Our Interact Club is run under the auspices of the Claremont Rotary Club.
Members of The Red Nose Chicken Club dress as clowns to entertain patients in children’s hospitals.
Habitat for Humanity, Stop Hunger Now and Reach for a Dream are part of our service programme.
Every year, Herschel hosts a Christmas party for about 120 children in the paediatric unit at Victoria Hospital.
Several social clubs, like Big Sisters and Helping Hands foster interaction between our girls and pupils from disadvantaged schools, making a difference to all parties involved.