The Tutor System

Tutoring aims to respond to the individual needs of the pupils within the boarding community and forms a vital part of the College's pastoral care structure through which it is committed to the highest standards of pupil welfare.

All full-time members of the teaching staff (“beaks”) are tutors, plus all Graduate Assistants, and the team is supplemented by many experienced non-teaching tutors drawn from the wider college community. The breadth of this team enables the tutee to tutor ratios to be kept exceptionally low, at an average of 7:1. 

All tutors receive regular ongoing training and support, both from the HMs in the boarding houses and through centralised INSET. The focus is on pastoral issues affecting adolescents, plus specific academic and curricular matters relevant to Marlborough College.

Tutors are encouraged to access training from expert external providers too, such as that provided through the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) Certificate of Professional Practice, HMC Professional Development courses, or the Youth Mental Health First Aid or MindEd organisations.

The Tutor's Role

In general, tutors take a friendly, informed interest in the pupils in the boarding house to which they are assigned, contributing to the life of the boarding house through social and extra-curricular activities, as well as through a specific weekly evening duty night. 

More specifically, each tutor is responsible for a small group of tutees, providing them with on-going support and monitoring. Tutors act as a sounding board for opinions, as a mediator and confidant, and they interpret and reinforce the standards and values of the College. They promote friendly dialogue and act as common-sense listeners through the sometimes choppy waters of adolescence.

Tutors are the first point of academic monitoring and advice, and have responsibility for following up with tutees each Progress Indicator Report or PIR. The conversations which follow each reporting cycle are critical is assessing progress, encouraging personal reflection and setting individual academic targets at both a short-term, and more holistic level. 

In 2011 the College recognised an increased need for a more sharply focused, academically-targeted tutor system, particularly in the Lower and Upper Sixth as pupils adjust to new expectations and begin the critical business of Higher Education planning. To this end, the long-established vertical tutor system was changed to a horizontal one. In the Shell year, pupils can expect their tutor to focus on the business of induction to boarding, on establishing strong and mutually supportive relationships and on “settling in” both socially and academically, as pupils begin to discover their strengths and interests. It is highly likely that the Shell tutor is actually resident in the boarding house, being more readily on hand as pupils find their feet.

As pupils move to the cycle of the Remove and Hundreds, and begin their GCSE studies, it is right that the focus of tutoring changes, to the more specific support needed at this level. This includes help with time management, coursework demands in a range of subjects, the range of skills needed across a typical GCSE profile, targeting and achieving key grades, as well as the process of making choices for Sixth Form study.

In the Sixth Form, pupils typically begin a new tutoring relationship where support can be focused on making the jump from GCSE to A Level or PreU study; on continuing time-management skills, support with independent research and learning skills, and on beginning the process of considering higher education options.

Tutors allocated to different cohorts within the school are able to build up a level of knowledge and expertise associated with the specific academic profile and particular annual or biennial pattern for each cohort of the school. 

Given the predominantly academic focus of the Upper School Tutor role and the need to work closely with the academic departments and with the Guidance Department staff, it is anticipated that this role will be fulfilled by teaching members of Common Room.  However, members of Common Room will still continue to work alongside Non-Common room tutors in the Lower School.

All house tutor teams contain a mixture of skills, experience and academic backgrounds; and, while pupils are allocated an individual tutor, they continue to have access to all members of the house tutor team for support and advice as required. This ensure that tutors who are new to Marlborough College can be supported in their pastoral and academic work in the boarding houses, primarily by the HM, but also by other members of the house team, such that the care for pupils is made as continuous and comprehensive as possible.

The changes made in 2011 improved and enhanced the pastoral and academic support system with the College. The intention of this overarching system is primarily to support pupils personal individual development at every stage of their school career – and often beyond. Within this, it determines to meet the academic needs of pupils in an increasingly complex, and changing, curricular landscape, at both GCSE and Sixth Form level, and to assist in the crucial business of Higher Education planning.

The strength of the College’s system can be measured in the quality and warmth of the relationships in the boarding houses between tutors and tutees, where tutors form a vital point of adult support, guidance and role-modelling through the critical – and often unpredictable and challenging! -  adolescent developmental stage.