Does your school respect the importance of the form tutor?

The form tutor role incorporates a wide range of vital tasks, yet there is often little CPD and little support for teachers taking it on. Adam Riches & Roy Watson Davis issue a call to action for school leaders in SecEd.

The role of form tutor is of the utmost importance in school. It may take different names, but the basic concept of students having a person in school who sees them every day and is responsible for them is both a traditional and vital part of schooling.

Often, as a tutor, you are the first face a student sees in the morning and you are the person who is called upon at times of celebration or, indeed, for those more difficult moments. The tutor is the one fixed point in a world of turbulence outside, and sometimes inside, school. Indeed, a form group is like a little family, but how much value is the role of tutor given and how many schools get it right?

It is always striking to consider the contrast: the importance of the role of form tutor versus the training or CPD we allocate to the role. Safeguarding training is of course mandatory for teaching staff, but beyond this – bar some shadowing during teacher training – very little guidance or CPD is given.

The gulf between what is expected from a tutor and how that tutor is then supported with CPD and skill development is too big in too many schools.

Somewhere along the line some schools have lost focus of the importance of the role, presumably because of the incessant focus on results. But the blind spot is that excellent form tutoring can improve results because of the unique overview of a pupil that the tutor has.

A lack of time

In some schools, tutor groups are around 25-plus pupils, with the tutor expected to explicitly monitor the academic progress of all of them as well as deal with many of the issues outlined above. Yet the same schools give the tutor perhaps two 15-minute “tutor times” in which to do this, with the tacit assumption that the tutor will see tutees during further sessions at break, lunch or after school.

The academic

Academic mentoring is something that tutors also take responsibility for. Having a group of students, often with mixed abilities, whom you are expected to guide and help progress (in subjects other than your own) can be a real challenge, especially when all the other jobs are taken into account.

How many members of the senior leadership team have a tutor group? Exactly. But the majority of classroom teachers have a tutor group and a full teaching timetable.

Read more about the role of a form tutor and the questions that need to be answered Does your school respect the importance of the form tutor?

Do you feel like an unrespected form tutor? What do suggest should happen to help you in this role? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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