Beyond Wiping Noses

Building an informed approach to pastoral leadership in schools

By: Stephen Lane

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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234 x 156mm
Pages : 160
ISBN : 9781785835049
Format: Paperback
Published: September 2020

Stephen Lane’s Beyond Wiping Noses: Building an informed approach to pastoral leadership in schools sets out the crucial role of pastoral care as part of the function and purpose of schooling – and shares practical insights on how schools can get it right.

Within the current culture of interest in developing research-informed approaches to teaching, the focus has inevitably been focused around pedagogy. However, with the well-documented increase in pupil anxiety and mental ill-health in recent times, there is also a pressing need for schools and teachers to embrace a more rigorous approach to pastoral care.

In this urgently needed book, teacher and Head of Year Stephen Lane (aka Sputnik Steve) presents a case for developing a research-informed approach to the pastoral aspect of teaching. This approach is the result of Stephen’s own explorations of pastoral practice – and in Beyond Wiping Noses he offers helpful advice on how to design a knowledge-rich pastoral curriculum that encompasses both knowledge of the self and knowledge of the other.

Stephen expertly surveys the field of pastoral provision and leadership and provides practical takeaways around how schools can build an integrated approach to taking care of their pupils. He considers how pastoral routines can be embedded in the curriculum and developed to take account of cognitive load theory and Rosenshine’s principles of instruction.

The book also includes chapters focused on key pastoral considerations – such as safeguarding, behaviour, bullying, and wellbeing and mental health.

Suitable for teachers, school leaders and anyone with a pastoral role in any school setting.

Stephen Lane is the winner of the NAPCE's National Award for Pastoral Care in Education 2021 for 'Raising Awareness of Pastoral Care'.

Picture for author Stephen Lane

Stephen Lane

Stephen Lane, aka Sputnik Steve, has been a teacher of English in a variety of schools for more than two decades. He has been a head of English, and is now head of Years 7'9. Stephen is also a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham.

Click here to read Stephen Lane’s blog.


  1. A thorough review of the multitude of aspects to Pastoral care.  He thoroughly reviews the pastoral roles and hierarchy with in schools along with approaches to behaviour management.  He also bases it in the research underpinning good practice and uncovers the key hidden “pastoral education areas” which all teachers find themselves delivering with only their own personal experience to draw on.  A must read from the trainee teachers entering the profession for the first time to those aspiring to Pastoral leadership.   
  2. Stephen Lane presents a new perspective on pastoral care - placing it at the heart of schooling and emphasising the need to get it right. This new focus is well overdue: A wide range of considerations are covered including related research, bullying, well-being, mental health, attachment, behaviour and character. Each chapter includes actionable, practical tips.

    He acknowledges that the pastoral aspects of school life are varied, complex and dynamic, with different schools having different approaches to their staffing models. He advises schools to have a clear vision for their pastoral roles with job descriptions going beyond the administrative.

    Well-being and mental health are flagged throughout as important issues. With the current well documented increase in pupil anxiety and mental ill-health, he outlines how there is a pressing need for schools and teachers to embrace a more rigorous approach to pastoral care. Inevitably this means more training and collaboration.

    This book makes a very strong case for creating a knowledge rich pastoral curriculum and for embedding pastoral routines into the fabric of school life and learning.

    Lane makes the point that - 'Some find the pastoral hard, and some see a clear distinction between the academic and the pastoral, suggesting that the latter should be left for those with "a passion for it"'. The book makes the case that this should change.
  3. Drawing on his wide-ranging research and practical experience at the chalkface, Stephen Lane has produced an all-embracing text on how schools can develop their practice to care more effectively for their learners. 

    Stephen makes very effective use of his research to inform the reader of relevant current research topics, published papers and legislation. I personally found the sections on relationships and sex education, wellbeing, mental health and attachment, behaviour, and bullying extremely relevant. The depth of discussion and critical analysis illustrates the author's awareness of key intervention strategies. The section on behaviour is recommended since it raises many issues which have already been highlighted as key problem areas for teachers at all levels, especially as they work to address the emotional and learning barriers facing students during the period of the coronavirus pandemic. 

    Although Beyond Wiping Noses is primarily aimed at schools, I would suggest that its content is also very relevant for staff in further education colleges, training centres and universities too, where the issues of pastoral support for students is often an overlooked issue.
  4. - Provides secondary school leaders and teachers a guide to support all members of school community.

    - Explores many contemporary problems and challenges that are faced by students, offering guidance and strategies to support issues faced.

    - Alongside bullying, the book covers issues around wellbeing, mental-health and attachment, behaviour and delivering character education.

    - Practical suggestions throughout to promote greater levels of school well-being.

    - The book is a must for teachers or school leaders who want to explore pastoral role within the school community.
  5. Beyond Wiping Noses carefully navigates the paths through the pastoral life of a school leader and weaves theory with practical suggestions for a wide scope of issues - including bullying, behaviour systems, the pastoral curriculum and character education, as well as many other relevant and contemporary pastoral issues. 

    Stephen Lane explores the pertinence of educational research but acknowledges its limitations, especially when applied to truly human contexts. He is also insightful in his appreciation of contextual differences
    and the challenges that these may present. Although the text is often grounded in the debates and discussions seen on edu-Twitter, this need not alienate those who do not tweet, for the issues raised in Beyond Wiping Noses are pertinent and the Twitter debate is often reflected in -˜real life' staffrooms nationally.

    This book is detailed, thoughtful and very human; there's a sense of the person behind the writing, and an appreciation of the human behind the eyes of the reader.
  6. Beyond Wiping Noses is a book that is refreshingly readable and actionable but also evidence-based and rigorous. As Stephen says, the journey of becoming more informed - -˜of moving away from mere practice towards deliberate, thoughtful praxis' - is an interesting and intelligent one.
  7. Beyond Wiping Noses is a much-needed and wonderfully refreshing, thought-provoking and uplifting read. Such a careful and intelligent explication of the theory, philosophy and policy that lie behind pastoral  practice is an essential resource for any school leader, and indeed all staff, involved in pastoral work.

    Lane weaves together strands from key thinkers such as Dewey, Biesta and Foucault to present a model of pragmatic pastoral praxis - providing substance to an often ill-defined area, giving shape to what research-informed pastoral work might look like, and offering an inspirational and deeply human call to -˜extend beyond the utilitarian to develop a hopeful optimism'. In this unhiding of the pastoral curriculum, Lane challenges us to reflect on the nature of our assemblies, form time, everyday interactions with pupils, the curricular links between these elements, and the links with other subjects such as PSHE and SMSC.

    The reflective, intentional and integrated approach manifested throughout Beyond Wiping Noses is an invaluable contribution to the education literature and will undoubtedly contribute to something of a revolution in the way pastoral work is thought about and enacted in our schools.
  8. Stephen Lane gives hope and strength to anyone who feels that schools can sometimes forget to relate to the whole child, or leave some children behind in the drive for academic results. He approaches a fundamental but somewhat neglected area of school life, and shines a light on these vital issues with rigour, sensitivity and reference to evidence-based practice. In doing so he has created a bible for any teacher or school leader whose concern is the wellbeing of their pupils. A particular strength of the book is the way he marries a comprehensive overview of the theory with practical suggestions for day-to-day school life. I would urge all schools to have a copy of Beyond Wiping Noses in their staffroom.
  9. What is clear about this book by Stephen Lane is that there is an overdue need for all those involved in pastoral care and leadership to question what is right, what is needed and how to create schools that place humanity and the safeguarding of children and young people at their heart. 

    Extensive research forms a clear thread throughout the book. Stephen has not only offered an extremely balanced argument for the varying methodologies to support pastoral care but has also given us gems of wisdom, gained from his own experience and application of such approaches.

    While Beyond Wiping Noses is mainly aimed at schools and educational establishments in England, all schools could learn from it as it has been carefully crafted to address what Lane believes are the foundations for a robust pastoral care system. Stephen advocates that every school should have a chaplain, a counsellor, a designated safeguarding lead and a mental health lead and more, and that teachers should be fully trained in delivering PSHE and RSE so that they are not seen as an -˜add on' to pedagogy and practice.

    From behaviour management, bullying and restorative practice to computational thinking, cognitive load theory and much more, this book is jam-packed with gems of brilliance. A balanced critique of literature and educational approaches to ways of supporting children and young people is crucial, and this is Stephen's mission: getting us to reflect on what we offer and how we offer it, and suggesting ways to develop an even better pastoral care system in our school. His support of the four Cs - care, curriculum, cultivation and congregation - will resonate in my heart and mind for a considerable time.

    Beyond Wiping Noses is a gem of a book. Read it and make use of it to question the pastoral care system in your own school and how you can ensure it meets everyone's needs.
  10. Before reading Beyond Wiping Noses I was completely in the dark about the research available to help teachers inform their pastoral practices in school. This book helps to cut through the confusion and mixed messages over the kind of pastoral care that schools can and should offer, and places it into a wider context of curriculum and pedagogical thinking that teachers and school leaders may be more familiar with.

    Stephen's knowledge and experience of these matters, along with his genuine desire to see all children flourish in school, really shines through the pages of this book. He writes with compassion but also with an eye to the bigger picture. 

    Beyond Wiping Noses needs to not only be read by pastoral leads but by all teachers and school leaders who play a role in helping the children in their care through the trials and tribulations of school life.
  11. Stephen Lane has rightly identified the paucity in research on the pastoral side of working with children in today's schools. In Beyond Wiping Noses he shepherds us through a wide-ranging tour of his thoughts on matters pastoral, challenging the long-held sense that it is best undertaken only by those with the instinct and feel for how best to support the welfare, wellbeing and emotional development of children. Colleagues in schools, and those entering the profession, will find this book a thought-provoking and stimulating read.
  12. Beyond Wiping Noses is a comprehensive exploration of what pastoral care is in schools. It also offers a detailed and balanced examination of how a pastoral curriculum could become an evidence-informed provision in schools, something which is often neglected in discussions around pastoral provision. 

    There is an increasing focus on evidence-informed teaching and learning strategies, but this doesn't extend to pastoral provision. Too often, school leaders, when faced with the question of how to ensure pastoral provision is evidence-informed, do not know where to start. This book outlines the various ways that schools could approach this and provides an excellent starting point to further explore research in this area

    Too often, evidence focuses solely on teaching and learning and neglects the pastoral. This book very effectively bridges the two: showing how research evidence can be applied in pastoral care, while also exploring a range of interesting sources of research that all pastoral leaders need to know about. 

    This is a must-read for anyone working in or aspiring to pastoral leadership. It is also important reading for anyone aspiring to senior leadership, where a balanced and nuanced understanding of pastoral provision is essential. 
  13. Amongst the clamour and noise surrounding cognitive science, evidence-based practice and knowledge-rich curricula, little to no mention has been made of the pastoral dimension to education. Despite the slow emergence of the academic side of teaching into the light of research and evidence, pastoral work seems rooted in folk wisdom and gut instinct. This remarkable work by Stephen Lane bridges that gap, tying together these different worlds in a clear and well-researched book. Lane's breadth of reading is truly impressive, and he writes with authority on a range of thinkers and academics, distilling with ease ideas from Foucault, Biesta, Kirschner, Counsell and more. 

    Beyond Wiping Noses should be the starting point for everyone involved in pastoral work - and, accepting the argument that Lane makes from the outset, that means all of us.
  14. Pupil behaviour and learning outcomes are inextricably linked. In order to maximise the learning outcomes for children and young people, teachers cannot look at pastoral care strategies and teaching and learning strategies as being mutually exclusive. In Beyond Wiping Noses, Stephen Lane outlines the need for teachers to become research-informed pastoral practitioners. In each chapter he explores key themes and ideas based on almost two decades of his own reading, research and experience in schools.

    An engaging and thought-provoking journey through the multifarious aspects of pastoral provision, offering readers a plethora of practical suggestions which may support classroom teachers to promote higher levels of school wellbeing.

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