Pastoral Support Training for Academic Staff

Posted in: mental health and wellbeing, staff development, support

At the start of the month I attended the Pastoral Support Training for Personal Tutors (Student support staff training ( run by the Student Policy and Safeguarding team. The team are running sessions for both personal tutors and doctoral supervisors with the intention of rolling it out more broadly to all staff who may have interactions with students. The training has been developed to provide additional guidance and support to staff supporting students, and in response to an identified need by staff who often feel ill-equipped to support the increasingly complex needs of some students.

The session was run by Oli Schofield, who took up the role of Training Officer at the beginning of the year.  The sessions are being run over the next two months (both in person and online) after which time an evaluation will take place.  There are already plans in place to incorporate many aspects of the training into the Pathway to HEA Fellowship for probationary lecturers ( to ensure all new colleagues benefit from the training.  Oli is also offering to attend departmental away days / staff meetings to cover some of the content (so please get in touch with him if you’d like him to come along to any departmental session!).

Three people taking part in an event,

Despite being very familiar with the requirements of personal tutoring, the support we have available to students (and staff), and the issues that our students are currently facing, I still found the 2-hour session incredibly useful, and I learnt a lot.  It was also lovely to meet colleagues face to face and to have time to discuss these really important issues.

What this session does is remind personal tutors that we are not expected to be experts in the many issues that our students face – there are colleagues within the institution (and sometimes externally) who are much better placed to support our students and are ready to do so! What we need to do in our supporting roles is to listen and then refer appropriately.

There were a number of key topics covered within the session including, the distinction between mental health and mental wellbeing, learning how to recognise a student in need of support, the need to recognise when a referral is urgent or not, and responding to student disclosures, however the key take home message for me was that as personal tutors and doctoral supervisors we should be ‘helpers’ and not ‘fixers’.

I strongly recommend the course for both personal tutors and doctoral supervisors. Whether you are new to Bath or a more experienced tutor or supervisor, taking 2 hours out of our busy schedules to participate in this training and have the chance to reflect on how we support students is beneficial to them but also our own confidence and wellbeing.

Staff can book onto a course using iTrent (ESS). Click on the 'Learning' tab and then use the calendar to find the course to book your session.

Further resources:

Personal Tutoring Guidance (

Supporting doctoral supervisors - Learning and Teaching Hub @Bath

Online ‘Supervising Doctoral Studies’ module, developed by Epigeum.

If you have any questions about how you should support a student, or you need further guidance, please read the Student Services webpages for staff or get in touch with the Staff Advice Line on 01225 384321 or extension 4321. The advice line is available for all staff.

Posted in: mental health and wellbeing, staff development, support

Student Support Advice for Staff


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