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vertical tutor groups

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by littlebird22, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. I've never seen vertical tutor groups but on one of my student placements I saw tutor groups in which the Year 12/13s were spread about throughout the other tutor groups to "help out" e.g. 20 Year 8s and 4 Year 12s in a tutor group. I didn't really think it worked well for either the Year 8s or the Year 12s (I only have experience of the particular tutor group I was in). The Year 12s all sat together and didn't talk to the Year 8s at all and the older pupils looked thoroughly fed up the whole time.
  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    The first school I worked in had Year 12 students helping out with year 7 students. The students were all carefully chosen and were given training on what to do and what not to do.
    I only stayed there for a couple of years, but from what I saw ( and with my year 7 form group ) the students were excellent and really helped the kids, especially when working with the shy ones. To be associated with older kids really helped some of them come out of their shells.
  3. In my (limited) experience, vertical tutor groups don't benefit students. You just get individuals of the same age sticking together. It also can be a little awkward when the older students are talking about relationships etc while the younger children are just not interested in that sort of thing. Also, with new students coming and going each year, the group never really gels together.

    I'm happy to be proved wrong, and for contradictory reports to convince me otherwise, but so far this has not happened.

    I think if peer mentoring is the goal, then it should be implemented as a proper initiative, and if it is done properly then if can be beneficial for both the mentors and the "mentees".

  4. saxo07

    saxo07 New commenter

    We currently have vertical tutor groups and to be honest I find it quite difficult. Having 4 or 5 pupils from each year group means we have to keep track of what every year group is up to, rather than just one. The older year groups don't really mix with the younger ones (which is the point) and I agree that a proper peer mentoring system would be better. I would much rather have one year group in a tutor group as they would be all going through the same things at the same time and I could focus on them, rather than splitting my time between 7 age groups who all have different needs.

  5. I was a Head of House in a school with vertical tutoring for 6 years and believe that it is a great system if it's properly used. It's vital that the tutor spends time encouraging the form to get to know each other and bond, if this is done well you can then use the older pupils to mentor and support the younget pupils really effectively. It also means that you can focus on the needs of a small group of pupils at appropriate times of year, rather then trying to monitor and discuss progress with 30 in one go.
  6. Interesting norfolk8 that it worked with effort.
    We have the system and yes, it gives me a bit of peace to get organised first thing in the morning because the kids don't really talk to each other, but somehow I don't think the benefit to the registration teacher was the point!
    There are those who vote with their feet and don't attend saying they don't like it but I have a sneaking suspicion that those pupils would do that anyway.
    The people who hate it most are the Guidance team because a Registration class, based on a house system including pupils from S1-S6 , and a form class cannot be the same so contacting pupils, getting messages to them is a nightmare. Same goes for ordinary teachers. It is more cumbersome and time-consuming to find pupils but we don't have to do it so often.
    I suppose it could have mentoring benefits but there needs to be some joined up thinking going on in the school which is not necessarily the case.
    We were told that it allows younger pupils to see what is happening in senior years, and also keeps brothers and sisters together.
    I haven't seen any evidence of bonding due to a Registration class.
    My conclusion is that it is peaceful for the teacher but I don't see many benefits in practice.
  7. You do get a sense of a family grouping and some friendships do develop across the year groups. Some more difficult pupils can be persuaded to help the younger ones. However, somehow you end up getting to know them less well. From a tutor's point of view, you miss enabling your form to get through key things together, like work experience or the buildup to exams or leaving. Some classes end up less bonded as a result and things like discipline matters can be confusing, as you forget who the tutor is. Getting letters to pupils is a bigger administrative task as everyone is split up. I agree that mornings can be calmer. The tutor's task can be easier in that a a difficult year group, eg Year 9, will be split up and you don't have difficult groups, they are all shared around. However, I don't see massive advantages after running with it for two years.
  8. frymeariver

    frymeariver New commenter

    Whilst I actually think that the pros and cons of introducing vertical tutoring depend upon the school, its context and how skilfully it is introduced I will happily share our experience.
    The pros for us have been, amongst other things, a breaking down of the traditional year identities (which some years caused particular problems with difficult cohorts of students), an increased ability to mentor all students at key points in the year, stronger relationships between peers that have allowed some excellent peer mentoring to take place between students from different year groups, and an increased understanding of achievement issues for younger students by seeing older students going through preparation for GCSE
    There are undoubtedly negatives that need to be overcome. we have also had the issue of getting information to students spread through so many tutor groups, but there are ways around administrative issues that mean that they do not outweigh the advantages.

  9. This is peer mentoring not vertical tutor groups. Where you have a small group of 6th form students with a tutor group is peer mentoring and the school are probably trying to give the students some form of community service to do while in school

    In terms of vertical tutor groups, I have never had the pleasure, although I have heard mixed reports. Where vertical tutor groups has become embedded in the school over several years it has worked, however at one school a teacher told me they introduced it and the students hated it and it caused too many problems. I believe in this scenario the problems were because of vertical tutor groups but because of change and students don't like change. If vertical tutor groups are going to be introduced then the school needs to persevere with the initial complaints from students. One of these complaints might be that friends they were with under the old system they don't get to see any more.
  10. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    That would be fairly obvious.
    My resonse was to the previous post, not to the title.
  11. madwoman

    madwoman New commenter

    Interesting stuff - a very mixed bag of opinions - thank you all.
  12. san38

    san38 New commenter

    I have been head of a VTG for 3 years and really like it. I find that with encouragement my year groups have mixed together and my form has very much a family feel. I have found that students who are badly behaved within year groups behave much better in a mixed group and it has been invaluable in enabling students with confidence/social issues within school to make links with older and younger students. The only thing I would say is that for it to work the groups have to be kept faitly small - no more than 20. Unfortunately this is something our SLT are starting to forget and it is having a negative impact on the positives mentioned.
  13. I have been a VTG tutor for 6 years now and really enjoy it.
    However we only have it for years 9,10 & 11 (no 6th form) - this way you only have to think about 3 year groups - tutor groups vary in size between 25 to 30 depending on the experiance of the tutor and the make up of the students
    Years 7 and 8 remain as single year groups

  14. Hi Maddy. There are no cons but loads of pros. How can the school consult if it doesn't understand what VT is? Suggest you go to www.verticaltutoring.org and/or ring me. Most schools that go VT without a deep systems understanding manage to make a mess of it. Get it right and everything gets better. I have put some VT papers on this site. Please contact me and I'll happily advise you.
  15. Hi jillyo. Pleased you like VT. You would like it even more if your school knew what it was doing. Your description says to me it does not a have a clue! Sorry but I hate teachers and tutors (and kids) being taken for a ride. I bet you still have tutor time at the start of the day.
  16. Hi San

    You are so right. VT is values driven and untrained LTs soon swap values for expedience ..another training issue. 18 should be the max tutor group size and the school organised around the tutor (front office systems).
  17. Hi Littlebird, this is not vertical tutoring, just ignorance. Sorry you saw it.
  18. Hi MJ, this is what happens when LTs try to implement systems like VT that they do not understand at all. I see this kind of mess everywhere (ignorance and arrogance). It really is a tragedy. VT should improve everytrhing and does when implemented well and with knowledge and staff training.
  19. HI Sax, I bet you had no proper training, no real say and no real briefing and advice. As I have said, I see and hear this this all too often. I wish I could have trained your LT..sadly most think they are great managers but this has proved patently untrue..
  20. Hi MZ, again you seem to be doing something for which you have been given little preparation and input. Contact me and I'll tell you why it doesn't work and will not work as a result. I bet if I looked at the complete system of VT in your school it would be just another mess. I am so sorry...!

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