Vertical Tutor System
We want Herschel to be a place where students belong and as such, to experience various points of connection allowing them to discover what fires their imaginations, what interests and inspires them and what and who they aspire to be.
Herschel has four Houses and each House has their own sense of identity within the greater school context and Houses are involved in a number of different activities and competitions throughout the year – ensuring pupils build relationships and have fun.
Each house is home to nine tutor groups. A tutor group is efficiently run by a staff member as tutor and consists of up to 16 girls, with three or four from each grade. This vertical tutor system connects pupils with those in other grades in a family-style setup.
- Academic classes where they share in their learning experiences
- Grade events such as camps and bonding events to create connection as a grade
- House events such as Interhouse Singing, House Assemblies, House Time, Summer House Days, Interhouse Gala’s and an Interhouse Dance to build camaraderie
- Tutor groups which offer a smaller unit within the greater Herschel community
The overall management, administration, pastoral care, growth and character of the House is overseen by the House Director and two Deputy House Directors – one for the Junior phase and one for the Senior phase.
Academic Support and Careers Counselling
The academic progress and learning support needs of students are prioritised at Herschel Girls School. Students are able to arrange meetings with the Academic Support Coordinator, Mrs Smith by referral or as needed.
Academic support is multi-faceted and is dependent on the specific needs of an individual, and can include:
- Providing one-on-one or group sessions on study skills and exam techniques
- Assistance with time management and planning
- Accommodation applications
Learning barriers are defined as permanent or temporary physical difficulties or intrinsic specific learning difficulties which compromise examination performance. Barriers to learning can be identified through the assessment of an Educational Psychologist, following which they can be sensitively managed whilst arranging the best-suited interventions for students.
Whilst barriers to learning can be very challenging or even perceived as embarrassing, our staff are very supportive of students and aim to accommodate them in the best way possible. This includes facilitating the accommodation application process to the IEB board.
Mrs Smith is also available to assist learning with coping with academic anxieties and providing a safe space for students to reflect on their academic progress. She works closely with all staff in support of students and the Deputy Head of Academics, Ms East.
Many students enter high school unsure of where they see themselves after school or what further studies to explore. Career counselling offers students a platform for which they will be able to start this decision-making process.
This includes helping to choose subjects in Grade 9 and applications to further studies locally or internationally. In addition to ongoing career guidance, students get exposure to various tertiary institutions and potential gap year options. They are also invited to attend the annual careers expo in partnership with Bishops Diocesan College.
Herschel Support Unit
The School Counsellor’s core role is to look after the emotional lives of the pupils while at school. We become involved when emotional issues impact a pupil’s capacity for learning and their general well-being. In a broad sense, we are here to support the process of teaching and learning.
Counselling is voluntary and referrals come from various sources; the pupils, parents, friends or teachers.
The first session usually comprises an assessment of the young person’s mental state, and the nature and severity of the presenting problem. This informs our recommendation for further support. This could include a referral where the need for longer-term therapy or further assessment is indicated, providing feedback to parents where applicable, liaising with the relevant teachers or offering short-term supportive counselling at school.
We provide a supportive role to parents, offering psychoeducation and referrals where parent support is indicated. We also host Coffee Mornings during the course of the school year to encourage parents to connect with other parents in their daughter’s grade. Parents are encouraged to book appointments to meet with a counsellor if they are concerned about their daughter so that we can provide a space for assessment and referral. The pupil always remains our primary client.
Our work with the pupils and the information shared in our sessions is strictly private and confidential. Our practice is POPIA compliant and we are not ethically obligated to contact parents or caregivers when a pupil is being seen by a counsellor. The rules of confidentiality are contracted with each pupil seeking support, and if they are 12 years, and of age, they have the choice to see a counsellor without parental consent. We respect this choice if the pupil is not assessed to be at risk. If a pupil discloses something that concerns us about their 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.
The counsellors work from a strengths-and-systems-based perspective, with the view to support and enhance healthy coping skills and support networks. We work closely with the House Teams, Academic Support Coordinator and the Pastoral Deputy at the high school.
All three Counsellors have Master’s Degrees in Clinical Social Work and are registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions. We receive regular clinical supervision and frequently engage in peer supervision and professional development.
HSU Head of Department : Tasneem Variawa
Part-time counsellors: Monica Robertson and Paula Sellmeyer
HSU Receptionist : Feroza Cerff ([email protected])