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#1 Neil DeMarco

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 07:30 PM

We are switching to vertical tutoring in September. Does anyone have experience of this system? Has it been successful? Has it created any difficulties, anticipated or otherwise?
"Lesson planning is best undertaken when walking from the staffroom to the classroom. More detailed planning, by walking more slowly."

#2 jilljam

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:04 PM

We are switching to vertical tutoring in September. Does anyone have experience of this system? Has it been successful? Has it created any difficulties, anticipated or otherwise?



just nearing the end of our first year of vertical tutoring and jury is still out. Positives: it breaks up the formtime as being just a social occasion, behaviour in form has massively improved as you now have a lot more places you can move kids.

disadvantages: the behaviour of our current yr 7 is pretty shocking. Now this could just be a 'bad year' that would have been bad if we hadn't gone to vertical tutoring, however mixing with the older kids has certainly given some of these yr 7's confidence when they really didnt need this. Also having yr 7-11 in the form means that i dont think i have been as strict on my year 7's as i would if i had had a whole yr 7 form. It is difficult to be really firm with them when they get their first DT when you have kids sitting there who are well past their fear of dt's and simply laugh or even congratulate the yr 7 for getting a dt!

unexpected problems has been getting information out to specific years. eg if you need to get exam info to yr 11's then you have to rely on 60 form tutors to read out notices, rather than 10 yr 11 form tutors.





#3 jengibbo

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:17 PM

We are switching to vertical tutoring in September. Does anyone have experience of this system? Has it been successful? Has it created any difficulties, anticipated or otherwise?



just nearing the end of our first year of vertical tutoring and jury is still out. Positives: it breaks up the formtime as being just a social occasion, behaviour in form has massively improved as you now have a lot more places you can move kids.

disadvantages: the behaviour of our current yr 7 is pretty shocking. Now this could just be a 'bad year' that would have been bad if we hadn't gone to vertical tutoring, however mixing with the older kids has certainly given some of these yr 7's confidence when they really didnt need this. Also having yr 7-11 in the form means that i dont think i have been as strict on my year 7's as i would if i had had a whole yr 7 form. It is difficult to be really firm with them when they get their first DT when you have kids sitting there who are well past their fear of dt's and simply laugh or even congratulate the yr 7 for getting a dt!

unexpected problems has been getting information out to specific years. eg if you need to get exam info to yr 11's then you have to rely on 60 form tutors to read out notices, rather than 10 yr 11 form tutors.



#4 jengibbo

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:25 PM

Didn't mean to post the above repeat post.

We have a vertical house system. I much prefer the year system. Form time is better behaviour wise but the pupils don't really mix and I certainly haven't given my Year 7 the input I usually would have done. At the moment we only have a 15 minute form time but as of september we will be having a form lesson god knows how this will work. The most difficult aspect of this system is when issues with behaviour arise. For example previously if I had a tough year 8 class then the HOY would speak to them and if necessary put them on class report etc.Now I have to speak to five different Heads of house who all deal with things in a slightly different way. At the moment behaviour in my school is awful and most staff lay the blame at the vertical system. The head will not change back to the year system so we are stuck with it. I know some school are very successful so maybe there is hope for us.

#5 Andrew Field

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:32 PM

This was introduced at my school two years ago. I really didn't think it was a good idea at the time as I was concerned about it breaking up the concept of yeargroups and would destroy the concept of having a strong form. I was completely wrong. The vertical system at our place - in my opinion - works extremely well. We established houses at the same time as moving to the vertical system.

We have around 3 - 4 students from each yeargroup (sixth-form are currently separate although are linking in from September). Perhaps I've got lucky with my form but I've found it a very positive experience. By far the best aspect has been how the students support each other. I'd been heartened by the way Year 11 students went out of their way to talk to and help the Year 7s. The students in the form automatically know a number of students in each yeargroup. Year 10 students have been able to provide ideas and suggestions to the Year 9s regarding options. Year 11s have been able to give direct, honest advice to Year 10s about GCSEs and other work. The form has become much more of a social occasion. The school didn't just 'go vertical' and leave things though - establishing activities each day felt a bit draconian at the time, but it gave clear structure to work within. We've now got activities each day including a form quiz, what's in the news (where've they've each got to use the BBC news website to find an interesting story) and other similar activities including at least one assembly each week. Due to the nature of the tutor group these activities are largely led by the students themselves.

Have to agree that the concern about delivering notices was raised by many at my school but for important issues yeargroup assemblies are still run (where just those students are pulled out of form time).

I now openly admit to anyone who asks / listens how wrong I was about vertical tutoring. It has been a very positive step. The school did back it properly though - for example we also have academic mentoring where we meet with parents / carers of students each year, outside of parents' evenings. This is a 15 minute meeting to discuss general progress and wellbeing. We've been given additional time to make this happen and it is very useful.

So overall, I've found it a very good move. I've heard of other schools who have tried it and it just didn't work for them though. I guess like any system it needs to be properly implemented and supported.


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#6 Andrew Field

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:41 PM

We have a vertical house system. I much prefer the year system. Form time is better behaviour wise but the pupils don't really mix and I certainly haven't given my Year 7 the input I usually would have done. At the moment we only have a 15 minute form time but as of september we will be having a form lesson god knows how this will work. The most difficult aspect of this system is when issues with behaviour arise. For example previously if I had a tough year 8 class then the HOY would speak to them and if necessary put them on class report etc.Now I have to speak to five different Heads of house who all deal with things in a slightly different way. At the moment behaviour in my school is awful and most staff lay the blame at the vertical system. The head will not change back to the year system so we are stuck with it. I know some school are very successful so maybe there is hope for us.


Important point you make about behaviour here. As a Head of Faculty at my place issues of misbehaviour within my subject come to me first and, only if appropriate, are they passed onto the Head of House. This means misbehaviour is very much the focus of the subject they are in. The House system is used more to keep a record and communicate to parents / carers and suchlike. This I've found works well. Should there be an issue with a particular class it is my job to support that teacher. The Head of House will deal with individual students encountering issues across subjects, but there is clear guidance for all of this. Consistency is key though - the situation you describe above sounds frustrating and annoying.





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#7 Neil DeMarco

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:53 AM

We are switching to vertical tutoring in September. Does anyone have experience of this system? Has it been successful? Has it created any difficulties, anticipated or otherwise?



disadvantages: the behaviour of our current yr 7 is pretty shocking. Now this could just be a 'bad year' that would have been bad if we hadn't gone to vertical tutoring, however mixing with the older kids has certainly given some of these yr 7's confidence when they really didnt need this. Also having yr 7-11 in the form means that i dont think i have been as strict on my year 7's as i would if i had had a whole yr 7 form. It is difficult to be really firm with them when they get their first DT when you have kids sitting there who are well past their fear of dt's and simply laugh or even congratulate the yr 7 for getting a dt!

unexpected problems has been getting information out to specific years. eg if you need to get exam info to yr 11's then you have to rely on 60 form tutors to read out notices, rather than 10 yr 11 form tutors.


The second problem had occurred to me but not the first. It is obvious that you have to get the mix right so that good habits and practices percolate downwards to the Year 7s rather than bad ones but that is easier said than done.
"Lesson planning is best undertaken when walking from the staffroom to the classroom. More detailed planning, by walking more slowly."

#8 Neil DeMarco

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 08:00 AM

By far the best aspect has been how the students support each other. I'd been heartened by the way Year 11 students went out of their way to talk to and help the Year 7s. The students in the form automatically know a number of students in each yeargroup. Year 10 students have been able to provide ideas and suggestions to the Year 9s regarding options. Year 11s have been able to give direct, honest advice to Year 10s about GCSEs and other work.


This is exactly the situation we've been told vertical tutoring fosters - I'm relieved to hear that it does just that - at least in some schools.
"Lesson planning is best undertaken when walking from the staffroom to the classroom. More detailed planning, by walking more slowly."

#9 Judy G

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 08:10 AM

I feel that the negatives of vertical tutoring far outweigh any positives derived. I've now worked in two schools where vertical tutoring happens. The first school abandoned it after 4 years and returned to a horizontal system. My current school is about to start its second year of vertical tutoring. Communication is the main problem - e.g. passing messages to one class can involve 20-30 tutors rather than just one. I fully agree with your first poster that bad behaviour is filtering down...our current Year 7s are similarly learning quickly from the older students...not in a good way. Tutor time is basically 15-20 minutes at the start of the day which boils down to taking a register and passing on messages. The year groups continue to remain very separate in tutor time and advice given on options, etc. can be very negative rather than constructive. Although tutor time with students all within the same year group could be more challenging behaviour-wise it just made sense!

#10 Elle

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 08:54 PM

We are changing to vertical tutoring as of next Friday. I have my doubts. I am losing a lovely year 8 form who I was looking forwards to taking through to year 11 and instead gaining a very mixed bag of students. I am concerned about the behaviour as my new form contains probably the most volatile and challenging student currently in year 9. He will not be setting a good example to the new year 7s.

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#11 suzygudgeon

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 07:57 AM

I was very anti vertical tutoring when we went over 2 years ago but I am a true convert. We used to have house period before break which was really good as it made it like a proper lesson and not an admin session, unfortunatley we have gone back to it being in the morning. The mix of the years has worked well and we are also in a house system. The one thing that is really important is that you have good activities to do otherwise they can become bored and disaffected. The competitive spririt we have fostered between the houses has also really helped. A few other schools have come to look at our vertical system and my personal feelings is it will be as good as your staff make it.

#12 bemused1

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 03:59 PM

I joined a school which had slowly introduced vertical tutoring over a number of years and I'm a real convert now. We also have a House system so all the form are in the same House and there are a lot of inter House competitions and Interform competitions so they are expected to join in. They help each other out with work and advice re. options etc. I agree that you have to have things to do with them to make it work as otherwise they could just sit in their year groups. I only see them for 20 mins at the start of the day. They can have meetings where a certain Year group will all go off (e,g Options Assembly) after registering. We are lucky that we have messages emailed on one notice and we are expected to display this during registration so messages do get out to students relatively easily. There is also a good House Support system (non-teaching).




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