We have a vertical house tutoring system across Years 7 to 11 split into five Houses.
Since September 2007, we have been successfully running a House system, with all students split into five Houses. The Houses are all named after famous ships (Endeavour, Invincible, Triumph, Valiant and Victory) and each House is based as closely as possible in one geographic location in the academy.
Each House is led by a Senior Pastoral Manager and an Assistant Pastoral Manager, with the whole pastoral system in the academy coming under the leadership of one of our Assistant Vice Principals.
There are thirteen tutor groups in each House, and the tutor groups within a House work closely together to develop their own ethos and learning environment. Each tutor group has their own tutor, and every House team has support staff, who are available to work more closely with students and to support tutors. In addition to these there are ten Core Tutor groups designed to support Year 11 in their final year with specific Maths, English and Science intervention in the period leading up to their important GCSE exams.
Why we believe in the House system
“To achieve a creative community of staff and students working together to support and develop everyone on their journey to OUTSTANDING achievement.” – Our Pastoral Vision
In essence, the Pastoral Team’s ambition is to support every single student, no matter what their age, ability or circumstances, to be the best that they can be. The idea of community is important to us, whether it be the form community, the House community, the academy community or our contributions to our local community and beyond.
Within the House system, we operate Vertical Tutoring; this means that each tutor group contains approx 3-4 students from each of Years 7-11. The benefits of this system are too numerous to mention, but they include:
- Allowing students of all ages to mix more freely and learn to work with people outside of their normal peer group;
- Developing leadership skills in students, by expecting them to act as a guide and role model for our younger students;
- Giving tutors more focused, meaningful one-to-one time with students at crucial times of the year; for example, the three or four Year 11 students get much more support with revision techniques and planning than they could have received from a traditional Year 11 tutor;
- Providing students of all ages with automatic mentors in the years above them; for example, Year 9 students naturally consult Year 10 and 11 students for advice when choosing their options;
- Creating a real sense of community within the House; an impression of a small “academy within an academy”, which is particularly valuable as our academy continues to grow;
- Breaking down the traditional barriers between year groups, thus allowing students to feel safer and more supported wherever they are on the academy campus.
As a team, we spend a huge amount of time putting students into tutor groups to ensure that every child is allowed to flourish in the right environment for them. Where possible, we like siblings to be in the same House, as this allows parents to have one point of contact for all academy issues.
We have a carefully planned and structured programme of activities during form periods, aimed at encouraging the development of personal skills and qualities, as well as building a sense of community. There is a timetable of activities for each House for each day of the week.
All students will have a House/Year assembly once a week, which will normally be led by either the Senior Pastoral Manager, Pastoral Manager, a member of the Senior Leadership Team or a visitor. Assemblies provide us with the opportunity to:
- Create and communicate our vision for the House and our expectations of the students;
- Develop a clearer understanding of the wider academy, local, national and international communities and look at some of the issues faced by those communities;
- Give students the opportunity to reflect on moral, ethical and spiritual issues and achieve a sense of true British Values;
- Celebrate the successes of the House, tutor groups and individual students.
Students are given opportunities to reflect on a weekly theme or a current issue; they are also given time to reflect on their own week to assess things that went well and targets for improving in the next week.
As part of our commitment to considering community issues with our students, we have introduced a weekly activity based on the local, national and international community. Some weeks, this will involve students taking part in a discussion about an issue which is currently affecting our society, for example bullying, terrorism or poverty. There will also be work on chosen charities, perhaps taking part in fundraising planning or learning more about the work of the charity. We will also use some of these sessions to contribute to our local community, perhaps by supporting a local initiative or organisation.
Weekly community builders are games or activities specifically aimed at building the relationships between students of different ages, as well as developing important cross-curricular skills such as listening, communication, teamwork and leadership.
On three occasions throughout the year (Data collection 1, 2 and 3), subject teachers report on the progress of every student in the academy. In addition to updating parents on their child’s progress in every subject, this gives tutors the opportunity to consider how their tutees are doing and what steps need to be taken to ensure that every student reaches their potential.
Following the publishing of these results, tutors take time during form periods to have intensive one-to-one conversations with each member of their form. This allows students to spend time reflecting on:
- their progress against the targets they set last time;
- what they have done well and what they need to improve;
- setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timed) targets.
The process is formally recorded on the student’s file, together with a copy of the report data.
The time invested in this process reflects the pastoral team’s commitment to ensuring that every student is able to achieve their potential across the curriculum.
Supporting every student during the five years with us is at the heart of what the Pastoral Team stands for. Clearly the level and type of support which is appropriate varies according to each individual, but some of the people who may be involved in supporting your child are as follows:
Senior Pastoral Managers (SPMs)
There are five SPM’s, one for each House. They are responsible for the welfare of every child in their House, both socially and emotionally. They are the leaders and visionaries for each House and work closely together to develop the whole academy ethos and vision for the pastoral system.
In addition to line managing the team of tutors and support tutors and planning the weekly activities and assemblies, SPM’s are involved in monitoring the academic progress and behaviour of some of the more challenging or underachieving students. This may include putting students on report, doing some one to one mentoring with them (or referring them to someone else to mentor), initiating PSP procedures (Pastoral Support Programme) or liaising with other agencies involved with that child, such as social services or medical staff.
Assistant Pastoral Managers (APMs)
The Senior Pastoral Managers are supported by Assistant Pastoral Managers. The PMs role is to support the students in their wellbeing, development and achievement, as well as ensuring that the Academy’s high standards of behaviour and organisation are met. They are also responsible for attendance of some groups of students within their House, both praising and rewarding students with good attendance, as well as following up on any absences to make sure that every child in their House is given the very best chance to succeed at Nunthorpe Academy and beyond.
The form tutor is at the very centre of every student’s academy life and should always be the first port of call for any concerns or queries. As well as running the daily activities and encouraging students to develop their skill set, they are also crucial in the academic monitoring process, analysing data to spot trends and patterns and helping students (and where necessary parents ) to take appropriate action. Form tutors provide a strong link with parents and will often contact home to see how things are going or to discuss a specific incident. In effect, the form tutors act in loco parentis during the academy day, and they should always be kept informed of any developments in a child’s life which may be affecting their progress or behaviour in the academy.
Attendance Officer (AO)
The Attendance Officer monitors attendance across the academy (11-19) and works closely with the Pastoral teams, families, students and the Local Authority to ensure all students are attending the academy and receiving the best opportunities possible for them.
Many of our students go through periods of unrest at the academy, whether caused by family circumstances, adolescence, medical issues, friendship issues or other reasons. During these times of high pressure, we often see students crying out for attention by behaving inappropriately or being unusually emotional. We therefore have two Inclusion Mentors who are available to do more intensive one to one work with students who need support. This may include activities on self-esteem issues, friendship problems, bullying, behaviour or anger management. It gives students some calm, uninterrupted time working one to one with an adult who is not a teacher, and it is often all these students need to get them through a difficult period.
Our Inclusion Officers’ role is to conduct and record investigations into any incidents which happen in the academy which are deemed to be serious for whatever reason. They interviews all of the students and staff concerned, including any witnesses, and recommend appropriate action based on the advice of the Senior Leadership Team. Students can refer issues to the Inclusion Officers directly, for example if they are concerned about being bullied, or incidents may be referred by the pastoral team.
In April / May of every year, all Year 10 students are given the opportunity to apply to become prefects. Following a letter of application, SPMs / APMs invite candidates to interview and appoint their own House team of around 12 prefects, including a male and a female House Captain and Vice Captain.
The role of Prefect is quite demanding, but at the same time very rewarding. Prefects are expected to do one morning and one break and duty per week, and are a very visible and calmly reassuring presence at every parents evening and whole academy event. In addition, they are expected to carry out duties within their own House, such as doing uniform and equipment checks and organising social events. Prefects are also often used within the House to mentor students who are finding academy life challenging, and to be a positive role model for younger students.
Prefects are ambassadors for the academy and their House, and are at the heart of everything the pastoral team stands for.
In addition to the whole academy rewards, the Houses regularly recognise the achievements of individuals and groups of students in various ways.
Each House nominates a “Student of the Month” on a specific theme; these students are recognised with a certificate and their photograph on the TV screens around the academy. Themes for SOTM nominations have included categories as varied as Most Improved Student, Commitment to Fundraising and Sports Achievement. House assemblies often contain an element of celebration, with House achievement awards, the presentation of certificates or rewards.
In addition, each House chooses one student every term to be recognised at the Governors’ Commendation Evening. The reasons for being nominated might include all-round positive attitude to academy, commitment to House activities, mentoring younger students or improvements in behaviour and achievement.
Our Behaviour policy is outlined in the student planner and displayed in detail around the academy, and our students are given clear guidelines on what we expect from them.
Should students fail to meet our expectations, action will be taken by subject teachers initially. However, for serious incidents, issues around the academy campus (for example at break or lunchtime) or for problems which are occurring across the curriculum, action is sometimes needed from the Pastoral Team.
Students may be put on report, either to their form tutor or to their SPM / APM. They then have two weeks to prove that they have improved, otherwise it will move up a gear (from form tutor to SPM /APM, or from SPM / APM to a member of the Senior Leadership Team). Detentions may be issued for failing to engage with the report process or failing to meet the Academy standards, or there may be periods of isolation. Parents will often be invited in to meet with the form tutor and/or SPM / APM to discuss the issues and the resulting actions.
Ultimately, a small number of students prove to need more support from us and they may be placed on a Pastoral Support Programme (PSP). This involves an initial, formal meeting between the SPM / APM, the student, the parents and a representative of the Local Authority, at which the issues are discussed and targets set. There will then be review meetings until the issues have been resolved.