The Tutor System
Tutoring aims to respond to the individual needs of boarding pupils and forms a vital part of the College’s pastoral care structure.
All full-time members of the teaching staff, (known as ‘beaks’), are tutors, and the team is supplemented by many experienced non-teaching tutors drawn from the wider college community. This enables the tutee to tutor ratios to be kept exceptionally low, at an average of 7:1.
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 also have access to specialist training, such as that provided by the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA), Youth Mental Health First Aid, or MindEd organisations.
The Tutor’s Role
Tutors take a friendly, informed interest in the pupils in ‘their’ boarding house, contributing to the life of the boarding house through social and extra-curricular activities, as well as through a specific weekly evening duty night.
Specifically, each tutor is responsible for a small group of tutees, providing them with on-going support and monitoring. They act as sounding board, 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 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.
As pupils move to the Remove and Hundreds, it is right that the focus of tutoring changes, to the more specific GCSE support needed at this level. This includes help with time management, coursework demands, the range of skills needed across a typical GCSE profile, targeting and achieving key grades, and process of making choices for Sixth Form study.
In the Sixth Form, tutorial support is focused on making the jump to A Level or PreU study; on continuing time-management skills, support with independent research and learning skills, and on the process of considering university options.
All house tutor teams contain a mixture of skills and experience and while pupils have an individual tutor, they continue to have access to all members of the house tutor team for support and advice as required.
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.