What people say about Vertical Tutoring

In 2011 I made an extensive search for all comments about Vertical Tutoring on social networking sites and forums (googled “vertical”+”tutor” and followed up all hits). These are listed below in year order, most recent first. Please note that I have only listed comments by people (students, parents and teachers) claiming personal experience of Vertical Tutoring. So people who say they have heard from someone else that it worked well/didn’t work, or who just don’t like the sound of it, aren’t included.

Positive comments are listed first and negative ones second.

Positive :-)

its not that badd peep in my new skwl in manchesta its acutally betta than
just ppl in your year
onisly giv it a try’

‘nicki’ (2008)
‘We are now in our 3rd year of a vertical house system and it is great. Our vertical groups are split into year 7-11, then 12-13, but all the 6th form have a link tutor group whom they work with once a week. The older students love looking after the new students and the year 7's settle in amazingly quickly. The House Championship plays a massive role, the students love working and competing for their house.

If you want more info or to arrange a visit, send me a PM and I'll give you more details.

I think it is the best move our school has ever made and our results and student attitudes bear this out.'

‘Chicken Addict’ (2008)
'My best mate's sons go to a school with vertical tutoring. There was uproar when it was introduced but the general impression now is that it is a positive thing.'

‘Penguinmad’ (2008)
'Oh how I loved this.

Left that school and realised even more how great the vertical tutor group was. Added to that I have also had to teach PD/PSHE to a flat tutor group and it's a nightmare but would have been SOOO great in my old vertical group. The older kids looked out for the younger ones, my sixth formers would organise (and take the register!) my tutees at assembly time - allowing me to go to staff briefing rather than running around the hall trying to corral my group!’

I miss it loads!'

Chicken Licken (2008)
'Same as Pengy for me - used to have VT groups in my last school and thought they were wonderful - we went from years 9 - 13 in an upper school. The older ones used to look after the younger ones. There was none of the year group mentality that I currently battle with as a year 11 tutor. In the old place I taught PD/ PSHE to a year 11 group but made up with students from a range of tutor groups. It was a much more positive experience than the current PD/ PSHE lessons with my tutor group and things like spending over 4 hours with them on collapsed days.'

Rugbymum (2008)
'it seems to work really well in my DS's form, the older boys are seen as less remote and scary. They are also more supportive and as a result of better relations, this means bullying is not a major problem.’

Nathair (2008)
'Both the schools we are looking at for our DD to start next year have this. The theory is that it stops bullying as you have older girls looking out for the younger ones, it also stops that phenomenon of 1st years are scared of everyone above, 2nd years hate 1st years, envy 3rd years and are ignored by the years above, 3rd years hate everyone above and below etc.....(or was that just my high school?)

I do like the idea. When we looked around one of the schools, we were shown around by a year 9 girl and one of the things we liked was how she greeted, and was greeted by, girls of all ages. She enjoyed pointing out friends who were in pictures on the walls "That's my friend X, she's in year 7, that's Y, she's year 10"

The older girls are also encouraged to help the younger ones with school/homework. The thinking being that it helps the older ones as it refreshes in their minds work they may have done last year, and the younger ones get another girls perspective as well as the teachers.'

stevew61 (2008)
'DS1 seems to know more older and younger boys in his house than other form groups.

It also gives a role model influence, in our case so far positive. '

inkypinkyponky (2008)
'DD2 goes to an all girls non-selective school which introduced the vertical tutoring system about four years ago and I can whole heartedly agree that the theory about stopping bullying has worked brilliantly.
When DD started in year 7 she had a year 8 mentor in her tutor group to give any help needed, and often at lunch times when she had no-one to sit next to, year 10 girls would call to her across the cafeteria to come sit with them. At other times the older girls gave good advice about problems, which younger girls would not have had the knowledge or experience to answer. Now she's in year 8 , she is a mentor herself and has grown in confidence enormously.

The trial has been so successful that another local school adopted the scheme this year.'

T.i.p.s.y. (2008)
'DS school has always had vertical tutoring. Dependent on their progress they move up a Form each term if they are in the top 3rd of their current class with kids staying an average of two terms in a Form but a child who is weaker academically can stay up to six terms in the same form. There are so many different age groups in each Form that the kids do not even notice how old or how bright each kid is and it actually stops the few at the top and bottom of the academic spectrum always remaining at the bottom or top because the moment a bright child moves into another form the child who is staying already knows more of the syllabus. The child who has remained gains confidence by being initially brighter than the new pupils coming into the Form and this builds self esteem.

All sport, drama, extra-curric and boarding is done with the correct age group. It really works - sounds bizarre but I've never seen such a happier group of kids who all thrive academically.

EDIT: Sorry I thought you meant academically. The system you mention happens at independent schools which have day and boarding houses and boarding tends not to happen as the older kids look out for the younger ones'

Sally Herts (2008)
'I went to a "nice" private school many years ago, which had vertical tutoring. It did seem to work well, as you got to know people in other years, good and bad, as in life.'

serialtester (2008)
'I went to see a boys school where this has been implemented. It seemed to work very well, it helped to reduce bullying, made the older lads feel all responsible and assisted the younger lads (new Y7's) with settling in.

It doesn't matter what the form/house/class structure is kids will still have to deal with other kids that they might not like.'

hermanmunster (2010)
'My DDs school have vertical tutoring and works well, what are your concerns about it?

People often dislike change.'

tiredmum (2010)
'Both my dd's go to different schools that have vertical turor groups. They both are having positive experiences from it. dd2 is in yr 7 and because of the vertical form groups it means that only 4 yr 7s are new in that form. Because of this they can get more attention than if they were part of a form of 30. The older dc's help them settle in and are also there if they are getting lost, having homework problems or need to know about the clubs.'

MoJo (2010)
'my son has no problem with it at his school - doesn't even mention it! Think it's the change which is prob worrying students more than anything, and not being with friends?'

Rugbymum (2010)
'My DS has this at his school and we all think it works really well. My DS has got to know boys in other years and is not as intimidated as he would have been.'

GraysAthChaz (2008)
'We have it, at first everyone was pissed at it including teachers. But after two years of it it seems ok'

Evilpenguin (2008)
'Actually its really good, our school has it. It helps you get to know lots of people in different years who normally you wouldnt get to talk too.'

Stitch (2008)
'My school has used it for 2 years and I like it better than the old one. It lets everyone get to know more people round the school rather than just in your year. I'm on my 8th tutor teacher since year 7 now'

Matty! (2009)
'my sisters school did this last year and it worked very well, at least after a few months'

StellaDallas (2008)
'they operate a similar system at my children's primary school - they call them family groups. They work really well and you can really see the links that form between the children of different ages, it's absolutely lovely.'

Heated (2008)
'The pupils get used to it very quickly; they're together with their year group at all other times. It's the teachers who moan about it.'

'my cousin's son's school (in New Zealand) teaches to ability not age and there are classes with kids from 5 to 8yo, and others with 7 to 11yo. It works extremely well and the older kids look after the younger kids and really close friendships are made, which have the potential to last all their lives.'

beansmum (2008)
'We had this at secondary school in NZ. We met for 10 mins first thing in the morning and then 15 mins straight after lunch for SSR (sustained silent reading). At assemblies we had to sit in our vertical forms within house groups. It was great actually, I did a few 6th form subjects a year early and was in classes with people I already knew. It helped a lot when you first started secondary school as well, we had a kind of mentoring thing where the older ones showed the new ones around school.'

herbietea (2008)
'DS1's school intorduced this after the last half term break. I was really sceptical about it and he was worried, as was DS2 who starts in September. I have to say though it has worked really well so far - he is still taught with his year group in his lessons it is only tutor time that he is in a mixed group. His friendships have been extended accross the whole school and they all seem to have more respect for each other.
When DS2 went for his induction day he was really happy. He is more confident and sociable than DS1 and he felt really relaxed talking to the Year 10's in his tutor group. He doesn't have the same worries about feeling intimidated by the older ones that DS1 had when he started.'

swedishmum (2008)
'The dds' school have been doing this for a year, and I had a vertical tutor group in the first school I taught in in the mid 80s. It was quite hard when it came to option choices for eg, though I got to know all of the children pretty well. They don't spend a whole 30 mins in there each day. Dd2 now knows a number of girls across the whole school, and it's easier for Y12/13 to be involved with younger children. Also as a parent you get to know one tutor pretty well. Not all tutors are great though, and this is where the system can fall down.'

JaneMoore (2006)
'In defence of vertical forms - I taught for one term (and as a tutor) in a school with this arrangement, and although I was initially sceptical, it seemed to work well. They did have a very strong house system for pastoral care, but the tutor group itself seemed to gel quite well. I was only there for one term though so I'm hardly a seasoned veteran of the system.'

'I have taught / tutored in both systems and as a tutor I liked the vertical groups - if you have good seniors they look after the younger - we used the terms of parents - grand parents - great grand parents etc - very loosely for fun - but the tutor group looked after each other - it also strengthened the house system - especially in inter house competions - At report writing times as a tutor you only have a few in each year group to process rather than spending a whole weekend processing 30 - with those tutees taking external exams you can give much more support. If you stay long enough at the school you have the benefit of seeing your tutees all the way through their schooling'

Andrew Field (2010)
'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.

suzygudgeon (2010)
'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.'

bemused1 (2010)
'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). '

'I work at a school where we have had vertical tutoring for three years now. From a whole school point of view it has stopped a lot of the bullying problems we had. The school I work at has a very varied mix of kids with very differing social backgrounds.
You may well be having problems with kids who are being immature about the changes which is a pain, and your form tutor should be stamping on that TBH[...]School might be trying to give things time to settle down with things like assemblies etc'

Negative :-(

Aiden Newall (2010)
‘They used to do this at my old school, just make it obvious that its not helping and theyl reconsider :D
April 20, 2010 at 8:13pm'

ubereglu (2008)
'My school has just converted over to this system. It's ok, but I definitely preferred having Year assemblies etc, because it meant you could find people more easily. Also communication between our year group-message wise-is not as good as it was.'

Leetzgirl (2008)
'we have it at our school and it pointless becasue we are being moved around all the times so we have like different form teacher each term.'

Holofoil (2008)
'Oh yes, ours is really effective. We get advice off older students and give advice to younger students.
The advice goes along the lines of


It's true that if someone doesn't like it, they just go to another VTG to hang around there. I just go to the Art Shed.'

Edited by Alkaz (Forum Moderator): Please do not post inappropriate comments.'

PriceTags (2008)
'Nobody's happy with their new forms - I have an awful form tutor and an idiot next to me, and all of our Year8s are HORRIBLE.'

VPSwow (2008)
'We had this at my secondry school aswell. Didn't help at all.'

Lucycat (2008)
'what will they do in their tutor groups for 30 mins each day?!

the only school that I know who does this was a top ranking Secondary that was put into special measures last year! [I WONDER WHICH THIS WAS???]

i personally like the 'all together' aspect of Year 7 - I teach Year 10 and I'm not sure whether I'd like my dd being subjected to them!'

jengibbo (2010)
'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.'

Judy G (2010)
'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!

Raych (2010)
'So, our school has just put in this new scheme where we have to mix forms with people in all different years.

form is only 40 minutes long, but theyve seperated us for lunch aswell, so its kind of a big thing for us all.

Plus im in year 10, soon to be year 11, so i was really used to my form and the way everything was run, so half of this anger will be to do with me not liking change.

anyway, my new form? I HATE THEM. i got chased by a year 7 boy with a deoderant can who was trying to "spray it up my nose" and managed to spray my back with it, rigth up close, causing it to 'burn'. ta mate. coz thats not dangerous at all.
And yeah im a year 10, but i dont like conflict. so i dont want to retaliate. plus we're supposed to be setting a good example for younger years, so i really cba with it all.

im currently writing a letter of complaint to my head teacher, (im a really good student so i havent ever had any problems with her). the letter is quite balanced but expresses my opinions about the whole CRUD vertical tutoring.

i dont know whether to send it or not, because the system has only been in place for 3 days, but everyone is hating it. and i have gcse's next year and i want to use my form time to revise, not have to babysit.
plus im with none of my friends for lunch, so its really unfair. (lunchtime and form are in the middle of the day)
i mean they have to try new things, but this is just extreme.

anyone have any advice on whether to send it or not? and if anyone else has vertical tutoring in their school.

sorry i needed to get this off my chest, and thanks in advance for reading and replying.'

CrazyMare (2010)
'I've seen this implimented in schools, and be hated by staff and students alike.'

Mixed :-/

jilljam (2010)
'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.'

roisin (2008)
'The school I work at has vertical tutor groups. I don't like it, but apparently that's because I haven't experienced the alternatives.

Pros Pupils integrate better across the year groups
You are less likely to get 'gangs' developing within year groups
Older pupils can be a positive influence on younger pupils

Cons It is very hard to get messages to pupils, because notices for yr7s, say, have to be given out in every form group
Older pupils can be a negative influence on younger pupils, and they seem to 'grow up' faster.

At our school yr7s and 8s don't have 'traditional' parent's evenings with subject teachers; just review meetings with form tutors. (But this isn't actually linked to the vertical tutoring thing.)'