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Vertical Tutoring

May 2017

Dear Parents

We are writing to inform you of an important initiative that we are planning to introduce to our Pastoral System and which we believe will contribute greatly to the continuing success and improvement at Colonel Frank Seely Academy.

What is the change?

From September we are looking to reorganise all pupils into new tutor groups which will contain a mixture of pupils from each of the 5 year groups. These are known as ‘vertical tutor groups’. The key focus of Vertical Tutoring is to develop high quality learning relationships that bring out the best in all who are engaged in the learning process.

So, what is Vertical Tutoring?

The change to Vertical Tutoring will see a significant reduction in the size of our tutor groups, which means that a large number of staff employed by the school in a professional capacity, teachers and support staff, will be involved in tutoring. In turn, the new tutor groups will each have two tutors, one of whom will take the lead, which is a significant investment to achieve higher-quality learning relationships.

The key change, however, involves the composition of the tutor groups. Each new tutor group will be populated by pupils from Years 7 -11, creating a balance of age, gender, ability, ethnicity, and attitude to learning so that all groups share a similar profile. Tutor groups will be smaller, including on average four pupils from each year group, so each group will have around 20 pupils in it. Each tutor group would then be allocated to one of three houses again to achieve balance.

The further benefits of vertical tutoring fall into four main areas:

  1. The idea is to form balanced groups and balanced houses. Pupils will receive more support and recognition at key times, such as making option choices or during exams. Each tutor will only have 4-6 pupils to support, so your child will get much more attention than in their current tutor group, where everyone has similar needs at the same time. Tutors can also arrange for younger pupils to get advice from older pupils in their tutor group who ‘have been through it recently’.
  2. Pupils will get more chance to take responsibility for younger pupils. Each house will elect pupils to senior positions of responsibility such as House Captains.
  3. More events can be organised to recognise talent and create more fun! The houses will become a much bigger feature of school life with Inter-house competitions/charity events. We are also considering improving the reward system to include points for houses.
  4. Better relationships. Under the new system, pupils will get to know people from other year groups in a safe environment, whilst still working with their year group peers in lessons. Positive relationships across the school can be fostered.

The House will become a very important group for pupils. The houses will have more of a ‘family’ ethos and prepare pupils for the world of work. This is not an unprecedented change; the vertical system is common across the country.

We have visited schools who use this system and have been very impressed with the benefits.

Although this would be a significant change, it would only affect tutor time – currently 20 minutes in the morning – it would not affect lesson time. However, we believe that vertical tutoring will also have a positive impact on Teaching and Learning.

Pupils have been informed of the proposed changes in ‘special assemblies’ and they have the opportunity to talk about this both with current tutors/teachers/peers.

Why should it change?

In particular, the introduction of Vertical Tutoring will enable our school to:

  1. Significantly improve parent partnership and parent involvement in the learning process.
  2. Provide better opportunities for all pupils to develop as leaders and mentors.
  3. Establish stronger, lasting, and more substantive learning relationships between pupils, yourselves and the school.
  4. Intervene rapidly and effectively when things go wrong or when there are concerns.
  5. Develop better learning dispositions and attitudes that research advises and we all know, are critical to increasing learning intelligence.
  6. Ensure a significant reduction in bullying through the new mentoring and in-group loyalty structures.
  7. Keep aspirations high by working more closely with pupils and parents/carers to improve individual and group support.
  8. Change the way assessment for learning works so that it better supports learning and teaching.
  9. Improve information flow between home and school – so vital to learning and to successful outcomes.

Our research shows that Vertical Tutoring is the best and most cost-effective means of ensuring that we deliver on our promises as a school; it will enable us to do our best for all pupils and to deliver the values we hold dear. Vertical Tutoring will also provide a better means of ensuring that every pupil is recognised, known, and supported. Personal tutors will not only see every child every day, but be able to support them as young people and as learners. We are aiming to build a new and better communications, assessment, and support system around this key learning relationship.

How will parent/carer partnership be improved?

The key to this change rests in a number of areas but especially with the role of the tutors and their impact in working with their new mixed-age tutor groups. We are placing the tutor at the heart of the school and all staff will play their part, which will include members of the Senior Leadership Team acting as tutors. Information sent home will also change. At these critical learning times, parents/carers and pupils will be invited by their child’s personal tutors to take part in an in-depth academic review week. These occasions will enable a more complete overview and assessment to be made with regard to progress in learning, besides providing a means of identifying any further support needed. It is envisaged that such a key meeting will last for 20 – 30 minutes and because of its importance, will take place within the span of a specific week, at a time convenient to both parents/carers and staff. These academic tutorial periods will be identified on the calendar from the start of the year. Parents’ Evenings with subject teachers will remain in addition in Key Stage 4.

Yours sincerely

MR J GALE Headteacher MR C RIDLEY Deputy Headteacher


Colonel Frank Seely Academy