Tutor time at Copleston is much more than just taking the register and giving out notices. We believe that tutor time sets the tone for each day's learning and that the relationship students build with their form tutor and their form group provides an ideal atmosphere for open and in-depth discussion about key topics beyond the curriculum that will give them an enhanced understanding of their world and their community.
We recently introduced our brand new tutor time and enrichment programme for Years 7-10 and Sixth Form. As a school, we want our students to not solely be successful academically, but also to develop as individuals and have a good understanding of wider world issues, so we have designed a bespoke and exciting programme of topics and activities built around the issues we felt were most important for our community or which we knew that students wanted or needed to know more about.
Students mostly remain in the same form groups throughout Years 7-10 and build positive relationships with one another and with their tutors. This presents a ‘safe’ environment in which to discuss difficult or sensitive issues. We also felt that using this time for the activities would help to give students a positive and motivating start to the day. In Sixth Form, we wanted to develop a more extensive programme, so students extend the activities into timetabled enrichment lessons in which they can look deeper into the topics that particularly interest them.
In the BASE, students across the school look at the same topics each week and assemblies are often linked to the topics. This creates a buzz across the school and means that students are able to discuss the topics with their peers and siblings. Each year group takes a slightly different approach, looking at different case studies or inspirational people from a range of backgrounds. This also means that they revisit key topics through the school and develop a deeper understanding linked to increasing maturity.
Many of our weekly themes are linked to key national dates or special events, such as Remembrance, Anti-Bullying Week, Mental Health Awareness Day and Black History Month. We are keen to promote equality and diversity throughout the programme, so students will explore the issues faced by a range of different celebrities, politicians, historical figures, athletes etc. who have spoken out about their own experiences or who are noted for taking a stand against inequality. We have tried to choose as diverse a range of people as we can, in the hope that this will provide aspirational role models for all our students.
In our APEX programme for Sixth Form, students discuss topics appropriate to their age group. Discussions are still guided by tutors and they have a booklet of questions to facilitate this, but many of the activities overlap into their enrichment lessons, when they have an opportunity to extend the work done in tutor time or embark on longer projects about a particular area that inspires or interests them. We listened to what students told us they wanted to learn before they left school and put together a programme that addresses similar key issues to the main school but in more depth, but also includes skills or knowledge needed when they leave school such as how to rent or buy a house, personal finance, budgeting, tax, study skills and learning to drive. In the summer term, Year 12 also have the opportunity to take action on an issue that particularly interests them or that they feel strongly about as part of their Enrichment programme.
Feedback has been very positive, with students and form tutors throughout all year groups saying that they are enjoying the activities, benefitting from the discussions and finding the topics relevant and interesting. We hope that students are also discussing the issues outside the classroom and putting into action what they are learning.
Every Friday, students spend tutor time doing silent reading. This has had a very positive impact as it ensures that students all have a fiction book in their possession each week (with opportunities to visit our well-stocked Learning Resource Centre to borrow one) and having 10 minutes to focus fully on the book allows them to develop the discipline of reading and to immerse themselves in a story which they can then continue reading beyond the classroom.
Each half term, we also have a "reading week" in The BASE. In this week, students read silently during every registration during the week but also set aside some of this time to complete a reading review page in their BASE booklets to reflect on what they are reading. They also have individual discussions with their tutors about the books they have chosen.
Year 11 Intervention Forms
Year 11 follow a separate programme of subject-based intervention during tutor time. They are placed into subject forms based on which subjects they might need extra support in. The forms change during the year to reflect changing needs of students. Tutor time also incorporates a programme of activities to explore the post-16 opportunities available to them. They have A level subject taster sessions in our Sixth Form area and receive information about other routes outside of our Sixth Form. Their assemblies often overlap with The BASE topics being covered by the main school, allowing them to revisit some of the key issues they covered in Years 7-10.