Tutor groups … a hidden secret of success?

Tutor groups … a hidden secret of success?

As Head of Sixth Form, I’m always keen to hear what students value most about their time at St Mary’s. A recent student highlighted something we tend take for granted. She said:

“In tutor groups, we are mixed with Year 13 students - so we received advice from the older girls too. That was quite useful, especially as a new student.”

Often, when meeting prospective students at Open Events the focus naturally falls to academic results, A Level subjects or exploring our choice of extra-curricular opportunities. But, this student's comment made me stop to consider the real hidden value of our tutorial system.

At St Mary’s, all girls join vertical tutor group that brings together Year 12 and 13, day and boarding students. The groups meet daily for form time and also participate in our Tutorial Programme. Each tutor group provides a space in which friendships form, and peer advice and encouragement thrive.

In our Tutorial Programme students undertake a series of structured activities selected to enhance their personal development, providing a balance to their academic studies. The sessions play a key role in enabling students to prepare for life beyond Sixth Form, as they define and work towards their individual goals. The Programme explores a wide range of topics, from work experience and UCAS applications, to self-esteem, financial intelligence and exam stress.

Whilst Sixth Form is very much as time to gain independence and responsibility, daily tutor group interaction also creates positive student:tutor connections that go a long way to protecting student happiness and well-being. At St Mary’s, Form Tutors have time to:

  • Observe and listen to students
  • Monitor academic and personal progress
  • Connect students with their subject teachers, informing them of relevant issues
  • Share their own experiences, providing a point of reference as students encounter milestones or challenges

Perhaps most importantly, our Form Tutors have time to care. That may be to celebrate an achievement, or perhaps to be aware of a bereavement or another student challenges, which may otherwise go unnoticed.

All these seemingly small interactions are the fabric upon which our collaborative, supportive Sixth Form community is built – and this, I would argue, is what shapes the everyday, real experience of life in our Sixth Form.

Join an Open Event or arrange a personal visit to discover more about Sixth Form life.

Ruth Taylor, Head of Sixth Form