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Pupil Voice

Vertical Tutoring by Paige Dent (year 12)

Starting in the September of this academic year, Archbishop Ilsley adopted a new initiative in school which aims to promote relations between year groups, as well as enhancing the social and leadership skills of all students.

As with every new initiative, Vertical Tutoring was not without initial hesitancies from pupils who were perhaps worried about not being with their friends, getting to know people who are not the same age, or even not having their usual form tutor from previous years. These creases were swiftly ironed out as the new forms, consisting of at least one student from every year group, got to know and work with their new peers.

By having students from every year in each of the forms, there is no question a student can have that another student is incapable of answering. Whether its issues regarding schoolwork, options, clubs, work experience, etc. there certainly will be someone with an opinion or prior experience.  This is one of the best things about Vertical Tutoring. Not only do students develop socially as they have all been thrown into a totally new, potentially rather daunting, environment, but also the fact that they can offer guidance to others. These are skills which cannot be taught by a teacher in the classroom, making the daily twenty-five minute sessions even more valuable.

It’s an unexpected sight in schools to see an eighteen year old sat with an eleven year old, but it’s this which students have quickly become accustomed to. With the new addition of Reading Ambassadors at Ilsley, essentially a Year 10 – Year 13 pupil with a passion for reading, coupled with Accelerated Reader, a programme adopted to improve the reading ages of those in Year 7 and 8, the real benefits of Vertical Tutoring become strikingly apparent. By having pupils in Year 10 working with students in Year 7 to develop their literacy skills, the lower years benefit from having an older friend to help them develop their reading skills and thus their confidence. It also gives older students the chance to lead and teach, resulting in a more rounded person; something which, here at Ilsley, we see as a vital aspect of education.

Another new addition to Archbishop Ilsley this year is the Pupil Parliament, a group which meets to discuss school life and any changes that could perhaps be made. Although it is a new group at Ilsley, it’s something people are excited about and eager to participate in. With 152 applications, resulting in 72 students from Year 7 – Year 13 being chosen to be part of the Pupil Voice team, it’s an all-encompassing parliament. We hope the parliament will become a focus in school that will fit in well with the new vertical tutoring system as students from every year get their voice heard on equal terms to people older and younger than them.  

This link between years, creating friendships outside of single year groups, makes our school a true community. Rather than just sharing a badge, a name, or a faith, instead we share knowledge, experience and general chatter. Once, we believed we were a community, and perhaps we were. However, with Vertical Tutoring shedding light on every aspect of school life, we now see the fragmented nature of disjointed year groups who rarely interacted, especially further down the school. Now, we truly are a community who work together to achieve. Together, we created 202 shoeboxes to send to Swaziland this Christmas. Together, we worked to create our school paper, The Ilsley Voice, with entries from every year group.

The benefits of Vertical Tutoring are vast and expansive, and we are only beginning to see them emerge to a very small extent just one term in. With this scheme having so much potential and so many places to go in the future, we feel that nothing could be better for our students to equip them with the skills needed for life outside of education.