PG Cert/PG Dip/ MEd in Pastoral Care, Guidance and Pupil Support

Sandra Paterson

Programme Director for the Pastoral Care, Guidance and Pupil Support Programme


Please describe your course and why you think it works so well.

This is a postgraduate programme offered to all support workers of young people and in particular individuals employed in educational contexts who have an interest in developing their skills and knowledge in guidance and personal support. It's a part time programme, consisting of 4 modules taken at 30 credits to PGDip, usually completed over 2 years. After that it's open to participants to continue to Masters via a 60 credit work-based research project.

Modules are delivered face-to-face, and through blended learning and can be taken totally at a distance through e-learning, meaning that students can participate even if they aren't based in the Aberdeen area. This is visible in the fact that our students don't all come from the local area: we have students from across Scotland, as well as England, Northern Ireland, Dubai, Malta, Beijing, Saudi Arabia and even Texas. The roll out of this programme internationally, is currently ongoing.

Students enrol for one module at a time and then can opt-out when they've done the number of modules they want to, or they have enough credits for the qualifications that they want.

What do you think it is about this course that makes it an example of Good Practice?

This is a programme which meets the demands that professionals in the sector have and is a good combination of theory and practice. Additionally it is held in high regard by fellow professionals who work in this training area and well marketed. Research evaluations tell us that students enjoy the flexibility and autonomy of working when and where they like and programme pedagogy provides variety and caters for a range of learning styles and work and family situations.

Students are assessed formatively and summatively, and benefit from the way which assessment supports development and practice in the work place. We've spent a significant amount of time evaluating ways of making constant improvements to the teaching and learning within our programme, such as investigating the different delivery options open to us, and we've used different methodologies and technical innovations for example to support relationship building and bonding online.

This development has been informed by student feedback and steered by our External Examiner to shape the programme and improve it and our students tell us that they feel the programme works well. Programme numbers have increased over the years and recommendations have been built on the positive experience our students have had with us and this is evidenced by low drop out and good retention and recruitment figures.

Overall benefits to your students?

Students benefit from a range of courses which have been developed to meet the specific needs of professionals in the sector. Students also tell the team that they've used what they've studied, applied theory in practice in their everyday job to support the young people with whom they work and many report that their work with us has been an invaluable help in gaining promotion. Another positive aspect is that we encourage students, as part of the assessment schedule, to consider not only how procedures are used in their workplace, but also how they might revise this in light of what they are studying and, I'm told that some then go on to implement these developments and changes.

Overall benefits to you?

As participant numbers have grown over the short time I have been Programme Director I think I've gained a real insight into supporting and managing my tutor team to take forward programme developments, and also how online learning can be used to enhance programmes and widen participation, develop different pedagogy and patterns of working and has widened programme participation worldwide.

This programme, and its development, have also benefited my research practice and publications and have directly fed into my own research work and studies.