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Why Bryanston's tutorial system is blossoming during lockdown

Senior tutors Pippa Quarrell and Laurent Johnson reflect on the role of the tutor during this period of lockdown and in particular examine how the School’s distinctive one-to-one tutorial system is supporting pupils both academically and pastorally in this unprecedented term…

Senior tutor Pippa Quarrell

At this time of remote education, our tutorial system is central to the success of our Guided Learning Programme. Tutorials are vital to the way that both teachers and pupils are learning to navigate our remote learning environment, and, thanks to the digital technology available to us, we can still meet in our usual one-to-one manner, and discuss the whole life of our pupils.  Naturally we’ve been finding out about how they feel about their experiences of online learning, but also this has provided us with a chance to discuss extra-curricular activities, which is an area of Bryanston life that has blossomed under lockdown!

I often posit that being a tutor at Bryanston may well be the biggest single reason why the staff turnover here is low. While it’s an undeniable privilege to be teaching at such an amazing school, and to work with such fantastic colleagues in such beautiful surroundings, the thing that Bryanston teachers know about the prospect of moving elsewhere is that no other tutorial system is the same as ours, and none gives you the scope to spend time with individual pupils and have such a meaningful impact upon their lives. 

One-to-one tutorial at Bryanston

In the school that I taught in (many years ago) before starting work at Bryanston, my one concern about tutoring (which took place in a daily whole-group session for my entire tutor group) was that I was spending too much time on only a small number of individuals in the group who, by definition, were the most demanding (either because of their vulnerabilities or because of their talents), and this meant that organised, conscientious pupils sometimes slipped through the net. The particular thing about our tutorial system at Bryanston, because of its one-to-one nature, is that nobody slips through the net. This means that we can celebrate and support all pupils, even if it would otherwise seem that they don’t need that support. Showing an interest in their lives, and indeed having that reciprocated, is valuable and inspiring for both parties, and allows you, as a tutor, to have a genuine knowledge and understanding of your pupil, which then is invaluable when helping them to reach the right decisions about future pathways; GCSE choices, sixth form choices and of course university applications.

Coronavirus has hit at a time when many of our pupils are in transition, either into or out of one of the key stages of their education, but the way that we meet our pupils so regularly, albeit remotely at the moment, has meant that these decisions have all taken place as smoothly as ever, and our pupils are taking their next steps with the same confidence as usual.

So, be assured that the tutorial system at Bryanston is alive and well, and indeed in these unusual times it has continued to blossom, albeit in a rather unexpected way. It’s been really interesting to hear how our pupils have been blending home and school, and it’s definitely been fun to have the odd tutorial screen-bombed, either by parents – or more often by pets! 

When we meet again, if anything we will all know each other even better than before, and that can only be a good thing when it is our priority to look after your children to the best of our capabilities. 

By Pippa Quarrell

Senior tutor Laurent Johnson

Bryanston’s tutorial system is undoubtedly the jewel in the School’s crown. Whilst our role is primarily to monitor academic progress, as tutors we have always had matters of wellbeing at the heart of our weekly discussions. More so now than ever, tutorial discussions are an important feature of our pastoral support to all pupils, whose situations are, by definition, unique, and require a unique and tailored amount of support.

I for one have been struck by how much my tutorial pupils have looked forward to their weekly sessions and it’s clear that they provide both pupil and tutor with an oasis of normality amongst so much that is currently new.

Before the start of summer term, all tutors were tasked with explaining the mechanism of our Guided Learning Programme to tutorial pupils on a one-to-one basis so that they felt confident to make a success of it. Every week tutors are monitoring how pupils are making the most of the programme and supporting and advising them according to their individual situation. This is another dimension of the tutorial ‘safety net’ whereby pupils are encouraged to be independent yet have all the support they need to be successful, reflect on their approach in the light of experience, teacher feedback and tutorial discussion, and recalibrate their approach as necessary.

In these unprecedented times, never before has tutoring been so critical in support of each and every individual. Tutors are a vital point of contact so that all stakeholders in the pupil’s wellbeing are firmly in the loop and in a position to promote the pupil’s best interests.

By Laurent Johnson