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NAPCE News – March 2021

NAPCE News – March 2021

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

FEATURE ARTICLE: NAPCE Vice-Chair Matt Silver on the Benefits of Technology for Pastoral Care

Our Physiological Wellbeing- Technology benefitting Pastoral Care

Much has been made of the need for change. Will we return to a new normal or has education changed forever? Yet on the ground it is pastoral care that has risen to the forethoughts and pressed ahead despite the turmoil and challenge each of us has faced in many different ways. The question I pose is ‘what role can technology play in the future for pastoral care in education?’

Like many thoughts, the ideology of change is often posited by many but rarely actioned.

This is not to dismiss progress or even the ideas, but I believe we should be breaking down the journey of what is next into much smaller steps with a coherent unity.

When the idea of IT in classrooms and each student having a device was deliberated about for many years, we saw an extremely slow change curve that would make Moore’s Law shudder, yet the urgency has propelled us to adapt and adopt devices instantly.

Now with a device in each hand, I believe there is a new(ish) element to Pastoral Care.

Opening up the world wide web provides data and information that is not monitored by society but by a few and this challenge has been present for some time and is largely ineffective on the whole.

For all the lessons taught on internet safety there is little to prevent a young and vulnerable child from seeking their next hit of dopamine with a like or click.

The small step that I propose pastoral care needs to make is one that has existed throughout time, emotional self-regulation. Yet this time, the small step can be made with a small device.

Whilst emotional intelligence has gained so much traction over the past 25 years through Goleman’s pioneering work, I spent a masters and half a doctorate trying to go deeper.

That it took me that long in education to even hear of the underlying physiology behind emotional regulation is a major concern.

Whilst the presence of cognitive development and the neuroscience in deconstructing it has gained much traction, little has been shared of the fundamentals of keeping the cognitive mind in a functional state.

I came across Dr Alan Watkin’s TED Talk three years ago and it has shifted how I have approached my own life but also the schools I have led, particularly during the pandemic.

The concept that our vagal nerve can shut down our pre-frontal lobes and leave us in a state of fight, flight or freeze leading to erratic decision making changed everything.

That we are not conscious of the change in our physiology (our mind is far too cunning for that!) has meant that we can think we are ‘fine’ or ‘OK’ and ‘managing’ when really, we are not able to use our creativity, strategic thinking and essentially; learn.

With our students and staff returning how do we check in beyond ‘are you okay?’ when we are unaware of what is happening physiologically, let alone having the emotional literacy beyond the top ten?

As the TED talk shows, the use of an HRV monitor to visibly see our Heart Rate Variability (HRV) allows us to conceptualise what is actually happening.

If our HRV is coherent, staying stable, then our pre-frontal lobe is in a place to process and unpack what is really going on. Watkins’ coaching and leadership development group ‘Complete’, whilst originally corporate, now has a Complete Education arm.

The Universe of Emotions app that is set to launch provides an option to actually track one’s coherence using a heart rate monitor ear clip or chest band, these devices are becoming more readily available through sport.

It allows you to see how breathing rhythmically (no more ‘take a deep breath’) provides a consistent pressure from the lungs to the heart and can trick the mind back (not so cunning now!) into sending data that all is calm through the polyvagal nerve allowing our pre-frontal lobes to function.

The breathing technique has changed my life as a leader in education and been adopted by every element of our school offer.

When returning to a coherent state, it allows us to consciously consider the emotional state and, also included in the app, allows us to shift our emotional state.

Like anything developmental, it takes commitment to learn and ingrain the breathing into our habits, but a functioning mind and a fully operational parasympathetic nervous system are two things that could not be more important right now.

In the longer term, the app, like some others, teaches emotional literacy, but the physiological functioning is unique.

As pastoral educators we can use technology as an advantage in this case to show others that having learners in a positive state impacts their ability to learn and make academic progress.

It is a small action to introduce a wellbeing app, but the impact to the many other neural cells in are body, largely ignored in education, will be extraordinary.

Dare I be ideological and dream of it being a way to measure EQ alongside IQ? In the now, we will be in a more coherent state to think strategically and problem solve through the redesign of education.

In the meantime, when you see your community return, double check the ‘I am fine’ response, but make sure you check in with yourself first!

Dr Matt Silver is the vice chair of NAPCE, a Senior Practitioner with Complete Education, and CEO of Pathways Education, building digital and physical training, hosting and funding social enterprise that carves pathways to autonomous opportunities for our young adults with additional needs to apply their unique strengths into equitable and sustainable roles of personal and social value.

ARTICLE: Addressing Online Harms Through Effective Pastoral Care with the School of Sexuality Education

Addressing online harms through effective pastoral care

Pastoral staff across the UK will be acutely aware of the mental health of their pupils as we emerge from our third national lockdown.

The toll of social isolation, having to self-motivate and organize their school days from home and uncertainty for the future can be seen most clearly by parents, carers and the professionals who support our teens day-to-day.

Unfortunately, there is another, sometimes more hidden factor challenging young people’s emotional well-being: that of online sexual harassment.

Whilst in-person interactions have been put on hold, digital interactions have not. Increased screen-time during quarantine for COVID-19 has worsened gender and sexual risks online, with the scope for bullying and harassment increasing significantly, particularly for girls (Plan International UK, 2020).

At the start of the first Lockdown, our consortium of researchers, in conjunction with the sex education charity School of Sexuality Education, launched a survey exploring young people’s social media use.

We found that 37% of girls and 20% of boys reported
receiving unsolicited sexual images online. (A small sample of gender diverse respondents completed the survey, but more data is needed to better understand their experiences).

The vast majority of the images received by girls were unsolicited ‘dick pics,’ leaving those who received them feeling ‘disgusted’ and ‘confused.’

In spite of these negative feelings, the numbers of young people who reported their experiences were staggeringly low, with only 6% reporting it to the social media platform; 3% telling parents and a mere 1% reporting it to their school.

Alongside our survey findings, Plan International UK found that since lockdown began, ‘25% of girls have experienced at least one form of abuse, bullying or sexual harassment online’ (Plan International UK, 2020) and the Internet Watch Foundation saw a 50% increase in public reports of child sexual abuse during Lockdown (Internet Watch Foundation, 2020).

Taken together, these findings highlight that not enough is being done to protect young people from online harms, and as schools reopen, effective pastoral care can play a significant role in addressing this gap.

With this in mind, as a group of researchers and a RSE charity, we have developed a series of freely available policy and guidance documents, bespoke workshops and accompanying teacher training, all designed to support schools to tackle online sexual harassment.

The term ‘online sexual harassment’ includes three connected but distinct areas: receiving unwanted sexual content online; non-consensual image creation or sharing; and sexual coercion, threats or intimidation online.

The first refers to any content which is sent to a person without their consent such as sexual images, videos or messages. The second describes the non-consensual creation or distribution of sexual images.

Lastly, ‘sexual coercion, threats or intimidation online’ might include a person receiving threats of a sexual nature or being coerced into sexual behaviour on or offline via digital technologies.

Central to addressing these harms is a whole-school approach. Our comprehensive guidance document includes key recommendations, which encompass various aspects of school life: policy, procedures, curriculum, school culture and leadership.

Those working in a pastoral capacity are particularly well-placed to affect change in all of these areas. For instance, to ensure that students feel confident to speak up about experiences of online harassment and abuse, it is essential that incidents are dealt with in a supportive manner.

Our guidance document explains how to avoid responses that could victim-blame or shame, and the importance of ensuring colleagues do the same.

Similarly, PSHE and RSE should encourage critical thinking, and address online sexual harassment through a lens sensitive to consent, rather than simply encouraging students to refrain from social media use. In our guidance, we lay out key learning points for RSE/PSHE and wider curriculum, including why abstinence-based approaches to social media interactions are ineffectual and sometimes harmful, and a list of useful e-safety tools which students should be familiar with.

The law around young people and image-sharing is often a concern for those working with young people: we have worked with Professor of Law, Clare McGlynn, to break down the laws relevant to online sexual harassment (including image based sexual abuse and cyberflashing), and how this information can best be communicated in a classroom context.

All of this is captured in our Online Sexual Harassment Policy, which can be adopted by schools to formalise their commitment to systematically preventing online harms.

The policy template includes an exploratory evaluation checklist, and supports senior leaders to identify areas for further development and ensure the policy is properly implemented.

Alongside these documents, we have also developed ‘digital defence’ workshops, which School of Sexuality Education can deliver to your students at no cost.

These workshops cover using and managing social media apps, helpful resources and pages, how to apply certain privacy settings and pointing out the reporting and blocking functions on different apps.

The lessons also highlight how human rights, consent and respect apply in online spaces just as much as they do away from the keyboard.

These workshops can be delivered both in-person and virtually, and by 2022 these will be digitised and made freely available for RSE/PSHE teachers to deliver themselves. We can also provide training for staff in understanding and addressing online harassment.

If anyone is interested in having the School of Sexuality Education deliver free staff training or bespoke workshops for students please get in touch via

Amelia Jenkinson, Co-Founder of the School of Sexuality Education
Dr. Tanya Horeck, Anglia Ruskin University
Prof. Kaitlynn Mendes, University of Leicester
Betsy Milne, University of Leicester
Prof. Jessica Ringrose, University College London

AWARDS: Two Months Left to Enter National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2021

There are just two months left to enter the second annual National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2021.

The Awards scheme is the first and only in the UK to recognise great practice of pastoral care providers in the education sector.

The closing date for all categories this year is Monday May 24th, 2021, and schools are urged to submit their entries, which is a simple online process.

This year we’ve added a new category in International Contribution to Pastoral Care this year, a worthy addition to the seven existing classifications which proved so popular in 2020.

Just like last year, the finalists of the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education will be invited to attend the ceremony on Friday, September 24th, 2021 to share the experience with peers and find out who wins each Award.

Speaking about the Awards, Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE, said: “With just two months left to enter, we encourage all schools to begin considering and pulling together the information they need to make nominations.

“We think it is so important this year to recognise the pastoral heroes who have done so much to support our young people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nominations only take a few minutes to complete and we urge all schools, individuals and associated organisations to get involved, recognition for those who make a real difference is so important.” 

Criteria for Each Category
Pastoral School of the Year
A school that can demonstrate a commitment to pastoral care and support for learners that makes a real difference in the progress and personal development of young people in the school.

Pastoral Team of the Year
A team that works in pastoral care and can demonstrate a determination to support young people to achieve their full potential and a positive impact on the young people they work with.

Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year
A member of staff who works in pastoral care and who always makes the extra effort to support young people to enable them to become effective learners and achieve success.

Pastoral Leader of the Year
Has a passion for pastoral care that is shared with colleagues to inspire and motivate them to make a real difference in the lives of the young people they work with.

Pastoral Development of the Year
A pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people.

Raising Awareness about Pastoral Care
An individual, group or organisation who through their actions have raised awareness about pastoral care or pastoral issues and encouraged positive improvements for the benefit of young people.

Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care
A person, group or organisation that has made a real difference in pastoral care, for the benefit of young people.

International Contribution to Pastoral Care
An international school, organisation outside of the UK or an individual working in research or in an international school outside of the UK, that has promoted or delivered high quality pastoral care.
Any school or organisation can make a nomination for one or more of the categories. You do not need to be a member of NAPCE to make a nomination. Self-nominations are accepted.
Nominations are supported with information about how they meet the criteria for the category.

Nominations are for pastoral work during the 2020-21 academic year. The finalists and winners are selected by the judging panel of leading academics and practitioners in pastoral care and education. All finalists are invited to attend a presentation event when the winners are announced. 

There is a prize of one hundred pounds for the school, university, or organisation that the winners represent, in each category, to support their future work in pastoral care. There are prizes and plaques for winners and certificates for finalists. 
Nominations opened on Monday 18th January, 2021 and it is a good idea to make your nomination as soon as possible so you do not forget. 

Activity Date 2021
Nominations Open Monday 18th January
Nominations Close Monday 24th May
Judging Completed Friday 25th June
Finalists informed Monday 28th June
Tickets for Presentation Available Monday 5th July
Invitations to attend Presentation Event sent Monday 5th July
Presentation Event Friday 24th September

To make your nomination

You can enter the NAPCE Awards here

Nominations are encouraged for awards in different categories from schools and educational establishments and you DO NOT need to currently be a member of NAPCE to take part.

CONFERENCE: FREE tickets available now for NAPCE Conference 2021

Tickets are available now for the NAPCE Conference 2021, which will be held online in July and is FREE to attend.

The Conference will take place over three days from July 7th to 9th and places will be limited to 100 people, to enable as many quality opportunities as possible for delegates to integrate and share ideas and good practice.

The theme for this year’s Conference is:-

Does Every Child Still Matter? A New Approach to Education

The Conference will explore current issues and challenges that professionals in pastoral roles are facing and will continue to face in the coming months.

The programme for the conference is as follows:-

Wednesday 7th July 

2-00pm Welcome to the Conference – Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE
2-10pm Presentation One – Combatting Online Sexual Harassment – Why we need RSE More Than Ever – Professor Kaitlyn Mendes, Leicester University
2-40pm Questions
2-45pm Presentation Two – Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being – The Thrive Approach. (Presenter to be confirmed)
3-15pm Questions
3-20pm Presentation Three – The Challenges of Managing Behaviour after Remote Learning – Connor Acton- NAPCE, National Executive Committee
3-50pm Questions
3-55pm Close – Phil Jones – Chair of NAPCE

Thursday 8th July

7-00pm to 8-00pm NAPCE QUESTION TIME – The Challenges and Opportunities for Education Following the Experience of the Global Pandemic.
Chaired by Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE
Confirmed members of the panel.
Professor Stan Tucker, Newman University, Birmingham. Editor of Pastoral Care in Education.
Margaret Mulholland ASCL SEND and Inclusion Specialist.
Other panel members to be confirmed soon.

Friday 9th July

10-00am Welcome – Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE
10-10am Presentation 4 -Building Positive Relationships for Learning – Helen Peter
10-40 Questions
10-45am Presentation 5  – Proactive Pastoral Care -Maria O Neil – Founder UK Pastoral Chat
11-15am Questions
11-20am Presentation 6 -Â Engaging Learners – Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE
11-50 am Questions.
11-55am Close – Phil Jones, Chair of NAPCE

By registering for the Conference delegates will be sent links to join all three of the conference sessions.

For the more details and the latest information about the Conference please visit the NAPCE page on Eventbrite, via the link at the bottom of this article.

NAPCE members will have an exclusive period to book tickets for the event until the end of March.

Tickets will then be available during April for people registered for the circulation list for the NAPCE monthly newsletter.

Any remaining tickets will then be made available to the public.

NAPCE is also planning a conference for September 2022 as part of its 40th Anniversary celebrations at a venue to be announced.

Event link for information and tickets:

ARTICLE: Why Do So Many Teachers Hate Being Tutors? By Author & Former Teacher Helen Peter


Introduction: Why do so Many Teachers Hate Being Tutors?

Covid has hit us all hard and returning to school has been scary for everyone.

What a shame then, that so many teachers, already stressed, pressurised and over-worked in their schools’ push for academic success see the role of tutor as an additional, extra burden.

Here are two typical views:-

Tutor A

“Although I am super stressed with Covid and all the changes and messing around, I love being a tutor and am really looking forward to seeing all my students back together. I love it, it’s like I can be more relaxed and human with my tutor group- we can really have fun and laugh together. I really need to get to know them again after lockdown and all the faffing about about, and make sure they are okay and ready to settle back into school. I have worried about them during lockdown. Seeing them will make a huge difference when we are all so sick of screens. I just hope we get time and resources to do it properly.”

Tutor B

“Look HP, I am freaked out already trying to get all my lessons sorted. I am exhausted and worried for my own health, and my family’s, let alone having to look after a bunch of students I hardly know. I’ve only seen this lot a few times this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, my job is to teach geography, I’m really good at it. I am an AST. What I hate is having to do all that admin and trying to deal with a tutor group on top of everything else, and all the kids’ problems, when I can hardly deal with my own. Mostly I try to pass them onto my Head of Year, or a mentor. I am just not trained, nor do I have the time, or energy to deal with all that stuff”.

These are absolutely understandable views, which may be familiar to NAPCE members.

Think how you would feel if you were a student with teacher A or teacher B as your tutor. If you were constantly brushed off and ignored because they were too busy for you and your genuine difficulties, however petty they seem, how would your adolescent self  feel?


One optimistic outcome of Covid and all the disruption is that educationalists are actually talking seriously about wellbeing, mental health and how students and staff need to feel comfortable returning to school, with all the disruptions, worries and stress of the pandemic. There is even some lip service being paid to the fact that time and energy needs to be spent on this side of school. I just hope that it doesn’t fizzle out in the usual one hour of extra tutor time at the start followed to a return of the norm.

At last, we are hearing that the support for  everyone’s social, mental and physical wellbeing is more important than the academic side. Finally  there.

Finally, there is a recognition that students cannot learn ,nor staff work well, until they feel emotionally  and physically safe, and that this entails managing groups to come together again and learn to support each other, before pushing on with purely academic work. Music to our ears, NAPCE members!

So, let us take courage and push for more time and effort to be spent on pastoral care and the human side of school for everyone, staff and students.

Let us show that by spending time helping tutor groups and year groups and bubbles feel safe, discuss issues and share concerns together, our students will be enabled to settle back into school life, manage the inevitable disruptions, and realise that wellbeing and happiness are far more important, in this first instance, than academic success. The emphasis on spending time outside and taking and taking part in physical activity of all sorts, is to be welcomed .

In this extract from my practical teachers’ handbook, I argue for the importance of pastoral care and explain how to bring groups together, give them opportunities for safe discussion, support individuals and fill some of the many gaps left in recent years,(largely policy led by government), where the emphasis has been almost exclusively on academic success.

The role of the tutor is usually flagged up by schools’ brochures as part of their wonderful pastoral ‘whole child’ school approach, but seems instantly lost in the academisation of today’s education system.Whilst schools sell the importance they place on all their ‘Happy Child’ stuff, the actuality is that the role of the tutor is often neglected in teacher training and in schools everywhere.


Firstly, do not be concerned if you are feeling nervous or ill-prepared for the job of form tutor, or returning to the role now that schools are returning.
The role of the tutor is seriously under-prepared for in initial teacher education, despite many good intentions. Further, the staff selection, appointment, induction and continuous professional development is weak for the tutoring aspect of secondary teaching. There are fewer career opportunities for tutors and pastoral staff, than academic paths, despite all those fine words.

Very few schools include ‘tutor’ in the advertisements for teachers; some do not cover the role adequately in the post-appointment briefing papers. There are very few specific observations by Ofsted teams, little in-school monitoring, and little central Government support. How many of your pastoral meetings drop to the bottom of the agenda, or are rushed through in favour of the exam results?

“The full measure of a man is not to be found in the man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others because of him.”
Albert Schweitzer

“It is thus regrettable that form tutoring for some teachers is seen as a bolt-on exercise and a burdensome teaching duty. Those who see tutoring as a chore, fail to accept that your responsibility as a form tutor not only plays a hugely responsible role, but is also a productive and worthwhile commission.”
(Brian Carline, 2008)

This book is a handbook for teachers and anyone who takes on the role of form tutor, learning guide or mentor, but much of it will ask you to look at this from the students’ perspective as well as your own. I hope that you are reading this because you are interested in the role and want to find out more.

If you can recall any of your own secondary school teachers, or perhaps a tutor, you will realise there are a million ways that adults influence us, but that the teacher who takes special notice of us, who resonates and cares particularly for us, can make an enormous difference to how we progress. That person may even be the reason you are a teacher and that you are reading this book. A difficult relationship with a teacher or a tutor can put you off a subject for life, a good one can turn you on and start your career or a life time interest.

Firstly, do not be concerned if you are feeling nervous or ill-prepared for the job of form tutor.

The role of the tutor is seriously under-prepared for in initial teacher education, despite many good extensions of coverage. Further, the staff selection, appointment, induction and continuous professional development is weak for the tutoring aspect of secondary teaching.

“Very few schools include ‘tutor’ in the advertisements for teachers; some do not cover the role adequately in the post-appointment briefing papers. There are very few specific observations by Ofsted teams, little in-school monitoring, and little central government support.”
(Michael Marland, NAPCE 2001)

There is Often a Lack of Time, Status or Training Given to Pastoral Care
Most teachers and many support staff working in UK secondary schools will be expected to take on the role of form tutor or mentor, alongside their subject teaching or other role in school.

What is surprising is how little time, status or attention is given to training and preparation for this pastoral job, in comparison with your subject teaching job. It is unsurprising that many teachers dislike this extra work and see it as a burdensome role, which they have tomust take on without the necessary time, training or support.

The form tutor is far more than just an administrator, robotically registering and reading out notices, yet a few of our colleagues see it as just that, an imposition. They do the minimum required then leave their group to chat, while they read the paper or catch up on their marking. This is a lost opportunity. There is rarely any monitoring or evaluation of teachers’ pastoral capability, as there would be if they did the same in their subject teaching time.

(The Two Viewpoints)
Many secondary teachers love being a tutor. A typical, enthusiastic response would be:

“I love it, it’s the best part of my job! When I see my tutor group growing up and working together, becoming grown up citizens in my care, I see why I became a teacher. I really enjoy my time with them. I’m fairly free as to what I choose to do with them and they have a big say in that too. We discuss topics, mostly of their choice, we argue and we have fun, doing crazy things like fancy dress for charity fund-raising. We watch news clips and debate world events or moral dilemmas, often from the soaps. Above all, I hope I am a role-model for them, an alternative parental-type figure, so they can relax, knowing I’m not judging them. They are free to reject my style and guidance and to develop their own unique one.”
(Secondary maths teacher A, 2011)

The other end of the spectrum is the opposite, the subject specialist who really only feels comfortable teaching in their subject area:

“Look HP, I came into teaching because I love geography. That’s what I do, I teach kids
about geography. I am really good at it, I love it. I have been judged as an outstanding advanced skills professional. What I hate is that I am forced to be a tutor and I see it as jumping through boring hoops. We have to do lots of administration, which drives us all mad and then I can’t bear having the kids with problems. I can’t deal with them. I’m not trained and I don’t have time. I hate having to feel it’s my responsibility. I find it too stressful. I don’t want to worry about them and their problems, so I generally pass them on straight away to the Head of Year and they can pass the student on to experts for counselling or whatever they need.”
(Secondary geography teacher B, 2012)

Both viewpoints are extreme, but understandable.

The first speaker enjoys being part of the students’ experience of growing up and watching them developing their own personalities, interests, skills and talents. The second speaker sees her role as imparting knowledge and does not want to have to take on the responsibilities and inevitable angst of the adolescents in her tutor group. She is an excellent teacher, but she does not feel that she has the expertise, support or the time to do the tutoring job well enough.

If we consider the experience of the student, how would they develop if they had teacher A or teacher B as their form tutor? How would you feel if your tutor obviously found you and your problems a waste of time? The same applies to support staff who may be forced to take on a tutor or mentor group. Some love it, some dislike it.

Just as being a good parent requires multiple, complex skills, so does the role of form tutor, yet most of us are left to cope the best we can. Although Ofsted agrees that it is important, your efficacy as a form tutor is rarely assessed and you and your line managers have to work with colleagues in a mixed tutor team, ranging from enthusiastic amateurs to competent experts, to over-stretched senior staff to the occasional reluctant cynic.
A good tutor can make a major difference to the students’ experience of school life, so it is worth fully supporting pastoral care and even contemplating setting up some kind of performance management to monitor and assess this key role.

Most secondary school teachers have the role of tutor written into their contract of employment. Look at any secondary school’s website and literature and you will find claims that their pastoral systems are second to none and that looking after the ‘whole child’ is paramount.

However, generally, the status of the tutor is relatively low in the hierarchy. Very few secondary schools flag it up in their job advertisements. Little attention is paid to training for the job in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses or in today’s busy secondary schools.

“When I first started teaching I was given a tutor group of my own, even though NQTs were not supposed to have full responsibility. Nobody gave me any help. I didn’t even know where the form room was. I think we had one lecture on pastoral care at college. I had no idea at all how to deal with this group of Year 9 horrors. Luckily I befriended an older member of staff in my department and cried on her shoulder until I had mastered what to do. After a year I can honestly say I loved being a tutor, but the start was horrendous!”
(Natalie, science teacher, 2010)

This is a typical memory from a secondary school Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), who was understandably terrified when given this new role with no preparation, induction or support.

What is a Tutor For?
The roles of a tutor are many and varied, but can be summarised by looking at the pastoral goals of a school.

The National Association of Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE) state a tutor should be the following:
1. The key person who links the student and home.
2. The key person who connects the student with school staff and with other students.
3. The person who monitors academic and personal progress of the students in their
tutor group or form.
4. The key person to provide information to other staff about their tutees.
5. The key person who coordinates the way the school can meet their students’ needs.

If you can recall any of your own secondary school teachers, or perhaps a tutor, you will realise there are a million ways that adults influence us, but that the teacher who takes special notice of us, who resonates and cares particularly for us, can make an enormous difference to how we progress. That person may even be the reason you are a teacher and that you are reading this book. A difficult relationship with a teacher or a tutor can put you off a subject for life, a good one can turn you on and start your career or a life time interest.

All teachers want the best for their students. A great teacher can be a great tutor, given time and support. Rather like everybody being allocated a doctor from one surgery, every student must have that one coordinating adult. So even if they choose to go to talk to another teacher, there is still one adult who oversees the whole and pulls everything together. We have a duty to help our students develop as people, to gain basic skills and hopefully, develop a love and habit of learning and interest in some subject areas, and to become good citizens.

In fact, few people would argue with the agenda of the ‘Every Child Matters’ (2004) initiative that all children have the right to the following:
• Make a Positive Contribution
• Achieve Economic Wellbeing
• Be Healthy
• Enjoy and Achieve
• Stay Safe

We want all of our students to feel happy and safe so that they can thrive. Antidote, the campaign for Emotional Literacy in schools, coined an acronym ‘CLASSI’, which I have adapted to become CLASSIC. This is a reminder of how we would want every student or adult in a school to feel at any time:

• Capable.
• Listened to.
• Accepted.
• Safe.
• Supported.
• Included.
• Challenged.

“In the maelstrom of a large secondary school, it is easy to be lost and feel unimportant, believing that no adult in the school really knows us. That is the true role of the tutor, ‘the person whose subject is the pupil herself” (Marland, 2001).

The tutor group and base become, literally, a home for the student, where they can belong and be known and relax as an accepted member of a team working to support each other to develop, learn and grow. The tutor’s role is complex, but essentially, it is to gather knowledge about each student and form strong positive relationships as well as building the team, being a good role-model and supporting them throughout their time at secondary school.

It is the many small things that most secondary teachers take for granted as part of their role in caring for their students to enable them to work, live and learn happily in the school environment. Things like finding lost PE kits, calling home for a missed letter, wiping up tears or helping to resolve a tiff between friends, is all part of every teacher’s normal school day. Ultimately it is about caring and showing that you care, going the extra mile to help your students and colleagues feel supported so that they can do their best.

Whether you are the type of teacher who walks past the crying student on their way to the staff room, or whether you automatically stop to help, is part of the complex web of pastoral care. The irony is that I am arguing against having a totally separate system, but for a full recognition of the vital role of student support and care, which should be
woven into the whole complex tapestry of the organisation. It is only by recognising the
importance of emotion in human development and learning that we can set up systems that will mean that every student and teacher feels CLASSIC and thus able to learn.

If we have no vocabulary for this softer, more humane side of teaching, we will lose it.

Just because these things are harder to measure does not mean they are unimportant. In today’s world of league tables, ‘We must make the important things measurable, not the measurable things important,’ (Anon).

The Role of the Tutor

Most schools set up the role to include the following aspects:

•Taking the register twice a day.
• Noting and dealing with absences by informing the Attendance Officer and handling absence notes. Be aware of patterns of absence in case a student is constantly missing a lesson they dislike or has a problem with attending.
• Checking uniform and appearance.
• Giving notices and letters out.
• Maintaining a tutor notice board.
• Attending and helping to run assemblies and the daily act of worship.
• Keeping records and checking on students’ progress, letters from home, merits and so on.
• Dealing with lost property, equipment and other problems.
• Noting and passing on information or changes to the relevant staff.
Academic Issues
• Issuing school planners or diaries and monitoring their use by checking and signing them regularly.
• Monitoring homework via the planners and supporting the tutor group with class work, homework and coursework assignments.
• Dealing with complaints or issues from subject teachers about your students’ academic progress, or lack of it.
• Mentoring students by setting individual targets and monitoring them regularly.
• Reading subject reports and writing your own summative report for each student in the tutor group.
• Communicating with students’ homes and meeting parents or carers at Parents’ Evenings and Assessment Days. You may be the first point of contact (even if you hand the issue onto somebody else eventually).
• Communicate with the rest of the school to inform them of any issues that may affect the student’s academic performance. Coordinate support for students’ study such as homework club, detentionsdetentions, or courses.
Personal Support
• Getting to know each student in your tutor group as an individual via your daily contact with them and in tutor group activities.
• Establishing a positive, warm relationship with each individual and encouraging them to be motivated to work hard and enjoy school life to the full.
• Listening to students’ problems and sorting out minor, everyday mishaps.
• Supporting students to overcome personal problems and communicating with other agencies or staff to be involved if necessary.
• Disciplining any students whose behaviour is poor or if they are getting into trouble in school, while still supporting them to do their best.
• Showing a genuine interest in the students’ lives outside school to get a picture of them as a ‘whole’ people.
• Helping and encouraging each individual everyone to find their role to feel comfortable and confident and so be part of the tutor group and whole school.
• Giving individuals opportunities to lead, take responsibility and to be heard, to establish positive participation in school life.
Building the Tutor Group as a Team
• You will need to establish a positive atmosphere and team spirit for the group, to enable them to act together as part of a Year or House Team.
• You will be expected to participate and organise events such as fundraising for House or Year charities.
• You will probably be expected to help with assemblies by attending and by leading some with the tutor group. Many tutors are also expected to organise some kind of ‘daily act of worship’ in the broadest sense.
• You will support ‘the Pupil Voice’ by encouraging debate and holding elections for the Tutor group representative on the School Council.
• You will encourage participation in school activities such as recycling, maths challenges, community events, sports days and so on.
• You will have the opportunity to establish your personality as the leader of the tutor group if you want to, so you need to be a good role-model for the team.
Teaching PSHE and Personal Development
• Your school may have a separate PSHE or Citizenship teaching team, but the Tutor Programme will inevitably have some of this kind of content for you to deliver.
• You will probably be expected to run the Tutor Programme and be able to manage debates and activities on a wide variety of issues, many around individual personal and social or emotional development.

Helen Peter

Helen Peter, the author of Making The Most Of Tutor Time,  began as a mainstream secondary English and Drama teacher, but has always been drawn to improving the experience and achievement of vulnerable students in the system. Her roles have included pastoral manager, SENCO, Head of a Learning Support Service and a SEN advisor. Helen has direct and recent experience of teaching and training across a wide range of educational settings. These include working with disaffected adolescents and their families and teachers, training teachers in special, primary, secondary schools and in early years’ settings in emotional literacy, Circle Time, behaviour management, effective communications and active learning. She has also co-written a book on Circle Time and PSHE in secondary schools. She currently mixes part-time teaching, research and running an educational consultancy. Her next project is researching smaller schools in Finland and other European countries looking at best practice in pastoral care.

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