The wellbeing of pupils lies at the heart of any school, and the welfare of boys at Eton is our number one priority. The essence of our pastoral care lies in the House system, where small Houses (no more than 55 boys in each) enable the House Master and the Dame to get to know boys very well and to tailor their support to meet boys’ individual needs. During their time at school, some boys come to rely very heavily upon the support, guidance and direction they find in their House.
Eton’s size and scope enables boys to find kindred spirits among their peers, and with adult encouragement and guidance in the development of their interests and talents, many put together a richly contrasting portfolio of individual achievement.
Wider Pastoral Support
However, the pastoral care net spreads wider than the Houses alone. Each boy has an individual Tutor who oversees his academic progress and who is readily available to advise and encourage boys throughout their Eton careers. Professional psychological support is provided, when required, through the team of counsellors in the Stephenson Centre for Wellbeing, and our Learning Support Centre is also readily available. The school chaplains are happy to talk to any boy who may need help, or just a friendly ear – our Anglican and Roman Catholic chaplains are complemented by Jewish, Muslim and Hindu tutors. The physical health of the boys is overseen by three school doctors who are well supported by five fully qualified nurses in the Eton College Health Centre. Immediate and routine medical matters are handled within each House by their Dame. Boys are able to discuss medical or other concerns with the school doctors at any point. Boys have full access to the Designated Safeguarding Lead and to other members of the school safeguarding team, who can intervene if there are any concerns about pupil welfare.
The health of our boys is also overseen by three school doctors, five nurses, a team of psychologists and an adolescent psychiatrist.
Eton is a full boarding school with no day or weekly students. Typically there are just over 50 boys in a boarding House, approximately ten in each block (year group). This offers a distinctive balance between small Houses, which provide a strong pastoral base, within a large, varied and challenging school. From the very beginning, each boy has his own study-bedroom: there are no shared rooms. Boys thus have their own private space and are required to organise themselves and to develop self-discipline in meeting tasks and deadlines.
A new boy to the school will come to know the people in his House community very well indeed – especially his House Master, who is principally responsible for him, and his Dame, who looks after his domestic well-being. In addition to the House Master and Dame, each House has a Deputy House Master, two Assistant Masters and a Dame’s Assistant attached, as well as domestic staff. Some Houses also have a resident House Tutor. These adults offer support and encouragement in every aspect of a boy’s life but without unnecessary intrusion. It is a delicate and important balance: boys are encouraged to share problems with those that can help, but are steered towards mature resolution of them through their own thought and effort.
Nurturing individuality and yet understanding and appreciating the differences of others is a central tenet of Eton’s philosophy.
Each boy also has a personal Tutor. With the guidance of his Tutor (assigned to him at the start of his time at Eton) a boy develops the learning habits which will be the foundation of his Eton career. In tutorials, boys are encouraged to discuss social and health issues. In all of their academic and pastoral relationships, boys learn to talk comfortably and openly with adults.