Friday 26 May 2017


How long ago is it since you completed the ABSA Duty of Care Certificate Course in Student Residential Care? In recent times we have heard many staff say that they have already done the course and that they see no need to re-visit what is in there.

We disagree. Edition 3 of the Duty of Care workbooks is completely updated, and includes a number of new chapters, and our workshops are designed to highlight the critical issues which affect the boarding schools of today. Topics such as Dealing with Modern Technology and Developing a Life Skills Course for Boarders are addressed in depth and the National Boarding Standard is not only discussed but the Student Welfare section is debated in depth, as well as getting staff to analyse which areas of the Standard they are addressing well and which areas will need work.

We believe ABSA’s Duty of Care Workshops provide the opportunity to complete the workbooks in an engaging way. Many staff who are quite experienced in boarding produce ‘to do’ lists of the ideas raised by others attending, broadening their view on how they can achieve good practice in their Boarding House. By bringing a number of people working in different boarding roles to learn together, sharing stories and questions, the workbooks are brought to life and give those attending a much richer learning experience.

To quote some of the feedback received from our Duty of Care workshops:
  • “I simply thought the content was so relevant, practical and useful. The delivery was excellent and not "dry" at all.”
  • “It was refreshing to hear Richard refer to real examples and discuss methods that have worked for him (or not) in the past, rather than simply stating theoretical principals that may not have much relevance in an actual boarding school. Very worthwhile and relevant”
  • “I really enjoyed the unit where we discussed the different learning styles and how we could alter our normal ways of life in the dorm to cater for the different students"
  • “The opportunity to hear about different experiences and how these were handled by boarding staff was really useful. I gained a lot of practical knowledge from anecdotes and examples given. I also found Richard's presenting style to be conducive to completing the book”
  • “Loved hearing the boarding stories, which can then make the words on the paper come alive”
  • “I got a lot from hearing the stories from when you worked in boarding schools. It was also helpful to hear stories from the other participants. There was lots of practical advice and tips drawn from personal experience which we wouldn't get if we were doing the books by ourselves.”

The National Standard expects all boarding staff to attend on-going specific boarding professional learning, and there is no better way to keep up-to-date than completing the new workbooks. ABSA offers the workshops either in house, aimed at a group of staff who want to learn professionally together, or in groups.

When was the last time you spent two full days thinking about the important role you play in your boarding house? Isn’t it time?

Richard Stokes

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