Abingdon School’s pastoral care revolves around the House system. Each pupil is a member of a house under the care of a Head of House and also belongs to a tutor group, within each house. Students meet daily with their tutor, who is the principal liaison between a pupil, the teachers, school and home. 

Big Opportunities but Personalised Care

At Abingdon the wellbeing of the students comes first. Each of our pupils is supported by our pastoral care structure beginning with their tutor. We are proud that our staff to pupil ratio is below 1:9. Economies of scale mean that we are a school that can offer a huge range of opportunities, but we never lose sight of the individual. Tutor groups are small, but choice is varied, so the combination of the Other Half extracurricular activities and our pastoral structure means that students can build a wide range of different relationships and can find a path that is tailored to their own interests, and they are supported to do so.

“A strong culture of pastoral care, provided through an effective house system, which means that pupils are known by teachers.”

ISI inspection


We know that there is no one single route to positive wellbeing, so at Abingdon we offer our students different opportunities and approaches so that each individual is encouraged to find the strategies that work best for them. This process is led by our Head of Wellbeing and covers our PSHCE programme, and talks and initiatives on Mental Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, Sleep Hygiene, Stress Management, and an ongoing programme to ensure that each member of staff has undergone the Youth Mental Health First Aid course so that we can all support each other in living a healthy lifestyle.

Our Pastoral Goal

Our aspiration is for our students to leave Abingdon knowing their strengths and their weaknesses, comfortable in their own skin, and with an awareness of their responsibilities that will make them a positive contributor to society.

Counselling Service

At Abingdon we recognise that sometimes pupils can have worries, problems and difficulties. Being a teenager has always been complicated, but now there is even more pressure on teenagers academically, socially and digitally.

Our pastoral system supports young people through their time at Abingdon and key pastoral figures can usually deal with most matters of concern. Advice can be sought from Heads of House, Tutors, the School Chaplain, the school nurses, Deputy Head (Pastoral) or the Head. However, there may occasionally be circumstances when it might be preferable to talk to someone who is a specialist in counselling. Phoenix Counselling Cooperative is a group of four professional counsellors who provide Abingdon with a school counselling service. They are very experienced in their field and students will find it very easy to talk to them. They meet in Whitefields. They can be contacted on [email protected].

Outside agencies can also be contacted such as:

  • PCAMHS (Primary Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) 01235 547170
  • Oxfordshire Social Services Dept. (01865 79534)
  • Childline (0800 1111)

Further information on Abingdon’s Pastoral Care System can be obtained from the Deputy Head Pastoral.

Child Protection Policy

The School’s responsibility for Child Protection

All adults working at Abingdon should be aware of their responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of every pupil, both physical and emotional, inside and outside school. This involves ensuring that pupils are protected from significant physical or emotional harm and that there is a positive commitment to ensure the satisfactory development and growth of the individual.

Everyone working at Abingdon should be aware of and should follow the school’s Child Protection Guidelines, which are in line with the Department for Education’s (DfE) and Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board’s (OSCB) practice and procedures – available online at http://www.oscb.org.uk.

The School’s Child Protection policy can be downloaded from the School’s policy page.

Online Safety

All members of the Abingdon Foundation should be aware of the challenges presented by an increasingly online world. At Abingdon we promote a holistic view of digital citizenship, incorporating it into Lower School Computing, PSHCE, our Sixth Form Mindsets programme and in tutor periods. We look at dealing with cyber bullying, plagiarism and managing your online profile.

The School’s view is that all aspects of online behaviour should mirror the high standards we expect in regular, face-to-face behaviour. As of such, the School’s anti-bullying, safeguarding and ICT policies offer procedures and advice on all aspects of eSafety. See School Policies.

The DfE has issued some very helpful guidance for parents on cyberbullying, and CEOP’s ThinkUKnow website has some excellent resources for pupils and parents.

If you have a concern and want to talk to someone there are a number of ways to get in contact.

Points of contact:

Abingdon’s Designated Safeguarding Lead – safeguarding@abingdon.org.uk
CEOP’s Report Centre
Childline: 0800 1111

Further advice:

Guardian article for parents on how to teach eSafety
NSPCC advice
DfE Advice

Personal Development Education

PSHCE is an important part of life at Abingdon, and aims to foster emotional growth through personal and social education within a programme that engages emotional intelligence as much as intellect.

In Lower School, PSHCE is delivered as part of the “Be More Griffen” scheme. Pupils explore subjects such as emotional intelligence, coaching, target-setting and reflective practice in fortnightly 55 minute sessions. Each year, they are also treated to several inspirational speeches from external speakers. In addition, they are also given assemblies and seminars on topics such as safe use of technology, healthy eating, anti-bullying and mental health awareness.

The importance of PSHCE at Abingdon is such that in the Third and Fourth Year, it is taught by specialist teachers in fortnightly 55 minute lessons, covering the following topics:

Third Year

  • Wellbeing and our Values
  • Decision making
  • British Values
  • Challenging Discrimination
  • Equality Act 2010 including homophobia
  • Minority Visibility
  • Friendship, sexism and anti-bullying
  • Alcohol & Drugs
  • Healthy Eating
  • Love and commitment, marriage and relationships
  • Parenting, pregnancy, miscarriage, menstrual wellbeing, the menopause and feminism
  • Mental health awareness workshops and interactive seminars
  • Health centre presentations on wellness and personal hygiene

We also run an RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) morning every May for Third Years, which in the past has included performances about sexual health from professional Theatre-in-Education companies, as well as talks about men’s health issues from the School Doctor and presentations on STI’s from visiting healthcare practitioners.

Fourth Year

  • Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health
  • Stress Management
  • Masculinity; what it means to be a man today
  • Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • The workings of the UK Government; from polling to the Prime Minister
  • What is radicalization and extremism and what can be done to prevent it
  • Navigating the online world: digital footprints, where to get support, game addiction, being aware of fraud online, online streaming, vlogging, webcamming, social media and positive mental health
  • Sexual consent, grooming, coercion and sexual exploitation. FGM, forced marriage and honour based violence
  • Sexual harassment and the law
  • Sex and Relationships
  • Pornography and digital wellbeing

In addition to these lessons, all pupils are under the guidance of a form tutor. In tutor time they will cover various topics centred around national focus weeks such as anti-bullying, mental health awareness, e-safety, international women’s and men’s day. Tutors work on a number of life skills topics with their tutees, including study skills.

In the Fifth Year, PSHCE is delivered in weekly tutor time by tutors, focussing on the following topics that are explored via a number of learning methods:

  • Ways to wellbeing
  • Body image
  • Gambling
  • Harmful behaviours online
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Blood, organ and stem cell donation
  • Smoking and vaping

Sixth form PSHCE is also delivered via tutors, and also manifests itself as part of the Sixth Form Enrichment Programme. Topics which are covered by tutors include:

Wellbeing, time management, revision strategies, growth mindsets, anxiety, stress and sleep hygiene, love and relationships, everyday sexism, LGBTQIA+.

In addition, these topics are underpinned by our Sixth Form lecture program. The following topics have been covered by subject experts: teenagers and the law, teenage wellbeing and resilience, healthy relationships, pleasure traps and addictive behaviours, preparing for university as well as drawing upon popular speakers with compelling life stories.

In the Upper Sixth, students also complete a roundabout of nine topics which includes topics such as: pleasure traps, existential intelligence, staying mentally healthy beyond school, the body language workshop, meeting and persuading, food talk, shaping your leadership style and critical thinking beyond the classroom.

Our aim is that by the time Abingdonians leave school they have examined a broad range of topics and are equipped for life beyond school and have the capacity to think through problems whilst confident in the knowledge of who they are and the direction in which they want to go. In addition, the concept of wellbeing runs throughout the PDE program as we want to encourage pupils to have a good understanding of what positive wellbeing is and how they can look after their own mental fitness throughout life.

Finally, a number of aspects of PSHCE are also taught cross-curricularly throughout the school via weekly chapel services, both house and section assemblies, Biology lessons and Religious Studies. This is also underpinned in the School’s philosophy of the Other Half. Further information can be obtained by contacting the Reverend Paul Gooding, Head of Wellbeing [email protected].

Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)

Topics covered within the Personal Development Education Programme at Abingdon School

At Abingdon we want to encourage students to grow up to be respectful, kind and compassionate members of society.

In the Middle School the RSE topics are delivered by a broad range of teachers so that we can tackle topics in small groups of approximately 12 students. This makes for a really great group dynamic as issues can be explored sensitively in small groups. We aim to establish a safe learning environment.

In the Sixth Form we have a comprehensive lecture programme, with expert visiting speakers, together with a Personal Development Education programme with covers a range of topics from mental health and wellbeing to relationships and sex education. We are also very conscious that we are working in partnership with parents and carers on these topics and so we hold regular evening webinars for parents on topics such as:

RSE with Dr Eleanor Draeger” an NHS Sexual Health Consultant
Managing the teenager years” with senior member of our pastoral team

We actively encourage pupil voice and have an Equality Diversity and Inclusivity Committee which works on issues across the school. We carry out two in depth wellbeing surveys each year and we examine the results carefully and make adjustments to our pastoral programme as necessary.

The School is also currently rolling out Youth Mental Health First Aid 2 day training (Accredited by MHFA England) to all teaching and pastoral staff which will significantly help in delivering the overall personal development education offering to our student body.

Third year

In the Third Year we cover a range of topics in the RSE programme including: wellbeing, values and decision making, making positive friendships, the teenage brain, the importance of kindness, British Values, the Equality Act 2010, challenging discrimination, ageism, racism, mental health and disability discrimination.

We also focus on anti-bullying, including homophobia and transphobia and the importance of being an upstander not a bystander. We go on to explore love and commitment, marriage and relationships including civil partnerships together with parenting, menstrual wellbeing, the menopause and feminism. Finally, we look at pregnancy, choices, miscarriage and the law, together with reasons why people might wish to delay sex.

We supplement this programme with a series of lectures which typically include a talk based on a personal lived experience of the effect of alcohol and drugs as well as the risks of engaging with pornography. Our nurse team also delivers a talk covering personal hygiene, infection, dental care and oral hygiene.

In the Summer term we hold an RSE morning event, off timetable, which includes a powerful Loudmouth Theatre company production covering Child Drug Exploitation, Child Sexual Exploitation, sexual harassment and county lines. The school doctor also runs sessions on men’s health issues as well as sexual health. External registered nurses lead sessions on STIs, practical application of condoms and sexual consent.

Fourth Year

In the Fourth Year we cover various topics including: emotional wellbeing, managing stress and the mental health continuum. We look at depression and anxiety and how to help others. We examine modern masculinity through the lens of Grayson Perry’s work. We go on to look at radicalization, human rights and responsibilities as well as a large topic on how we navigate the online world including: digital footprints, online risks, gaming, security online and fraud, online streaming and vlogging. In the Summer term we look at sexual consent, sexual exploitation, abuse, grooming, rape, forced marriage, honour based violence, FGM, domestic abuse and sexual harassment. We also cover pornography, sexting and the law, body image and gambling.

Fifth Year

In the Fifth Year we have a health centre talk on chlamydia screening. We also look at healthy living and the impact of a poor diet and inactive lifestyle together with the dangers of drugs and substances.

Sixth Form

In the Sixth Form we cover many topics within our Mindsets programme, delivered in small groups of typically 9-10 students, and facilitated by tutors. These include RSE topics such as: wellbeing, love and relationships, LGBTQIA+, everyday sexism and sexual harassment.

This programme is reinforced by a comprehensive lecture programme. Recent talks include:

“Pornography” by Isla von Trich
“LGBTQIA+” by the actress Rebecca Root
“My life with HIV” by Emma Cole
“Wellbeing and university” by Dr Dominique Thompson
“Teenagers and the Law” given by a solicitor advocate
“Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing” by Natasha Devon MBE
“Pleasure traps and addictive behaviours” by Henry Barnes
“Wellbeing and Resilience” by James Shone

In addition the school runs annual themed events which pick up on various RSE themes such as:
Anti-bullying week, LGBTQIA+ History month, Mental Health awareness week, Safer Internet Week, International Men’s day and International Women’s day.

Health Centre

Telephone: 01235 849059
Duty mobile: 07748591057
[email protected]

Opening hours, term time:

  • Monday to Friday 08:00 – 18:00
  • Saturday 09:00 – 17:00

The Health Centre is located on the ground floor of Whitefield next to Crescent House (Glyndowr) in the beautiful setting of Park Crescent. We have light, airy rooms should the need arise to be an inpatient. We will look after unwell or injured day pupils until their parents/carers are able to collect them.

The Health Centre is staffed by the Senior Nurse Helen Morris, her deputy Carrie Berry and four Health Care Assistants. They all have a wealth of experience and provide a professional and caring environment for the pupils.

Outside opening hours one of the team will be on call to answer any queries regarding the boarders. Should a pupil be unwell out of these hours then a member of the Health Centre team will remain in the Health Centre to take care of the pupil.

During winter terms the Health Centre staff are fully involved with covering sport training sessions and match day cover alongside a suitably qualified doctor or paramedic.

We need to be kept informed of any new medical issues or any changes to current treatment or medication. This allows us to maintain up to date health records and enables us to take an active interest in the pupils’ health.

Concussion is taken very seriously and we will follow the RFU guidelines for a graded return to sport. Pupils will also be assessed weekly during this time and will have to be assessed fit for return to sport by a doctor.

All the boarders are required to register with the School GP, Dr Khan. Dr Khan works locally at the Malthouse Surgery and provides a weekly surgery in the Health Centre on Wednesdays at 8.00am. The pupils can either book an appointment directly with the HC staff or ask their Matron to make one for them.

If there is more of an urgency to see Dr Khan the pupils can have an appointment made at The Malthouse the day required.

We all take an active interest in health promotion and have notice boards with current issues. We are always happy to chat about any issue – large or small.

Health Centre
18 Park Crescent
OX14 1DD

Forms and guidelines: