Consultation Document:
Possible changes to our pastoral structure


What is a pastoral structure?

It is the way a school organises itself to meet the social and academic needs of students to ensure personal development and an overall feeling of wellbeing.


What are the different types of pastoral structure?

Secondary schools organise themselves in different ways for the purposes of pastoral organisation. These can be characterised as either a Year Group or Vertical (House) structure, depending on whether a Year or House system has been adopted. The most common and popular approach for secondary schools to organise pastoral care is based on Year Groups in which Heads of Year have overall responsibility for students in one age‐group. Since 2006 Brixham College has operated a Vertical system with four Houses. However, discussions have taken place within our staff body about whether it is time to change and adopt a Year Group structure.

Why is Brixham College considering a change?

We believe we have lots of existing strengths in the way we care for and support our students based on our current House structure including:

  • A family environment, everyone is approachable, no “year group” cultures or perceived blocks against talking to older students.
  • All students from Year 7 onwards have the benefit of guidance from older students in their tutor group. There is the chance to discuss issues including bullying, harassment, careers, homework, option choices and post 16 course decisions.
  • Working with people of different ages is a more normal social environment.
  • Older students act as role models and student mentors and can be credited for responsibility and peer mentoring. However, our current system requires that much of the pastoral support we provide has to be applied to large groups of students experiencing differing issues at the same time, e.g. supporting new students at the College, helping students choose GCSE options and preparing them for the challenge of examinations. It also makes communication with year based classes and whole year groups challenging and discussing sensitive issues can be difficult when the audience ranges in age from 11 to 16. With the growth of the College the role of the tutor is becoming increasingly challenging when caring for students who are at different stages of development and academic pressure. We feel a Year Group structure would allow tutoring to more closely match the ‘rhythm’ of the College academic year therefore a more efficient and effective vehicle for giving students in all year groups a higher level of personalised support when they need it most. In essence students would receive a better deal.

How will my child benefit?

Staff have discussed at length a possible change and have identified the following potential advantages that a change could bring:

  • The ability to target academic guidance and support for year groups based on the ‘rhythm of the year.’
  • Easier delivery of specific age related PSHEE and careers advice.
  • Help clarify and simplify the role of the tutor – focusing on one age group and their needs at the time of their development.
  • Enable tutors to become ‘experts’ in their tutor group as they progress with their students – a greater sense
    of ownership and belonging.
  • Encourage tutors to develop closer links with the families of their tutor groups.
  • Allow Y7 students to be developed into ‘Brixham Students’ without the influence of older students.
  • Aid communication and consistency in tutor groups – allowing the tutor to focus on one-year group.
  • The structure complements the national Key Stages structure.
  • Tutors specific skills or interest may be able to be utilised and aligned to specific year groups.
  • Heads of Year will have less students to support and therefore able to react quickly when issues arise.
  • The year group structure better reflects the external academic pressures students face enabling tutor teams to support students at pressurised times.

What is Year Group Tutoring?

It is when the tutor groups are arranged into groups made up of students from the same year. Currently each tutor group is composed of a random mixture of students from each year group. A Year Group tutor group would be made up of approximately 24 students. On average, this would result in smaller tutor group sizes than present, providing greater opportunity for individual student support. Each tutor group would reside within the year group overseen and supported by a Head of Year. Each Head of Year would be responsible for eight tutors and a maximum of 210 students. Currently each Head of House is responsible for nine tutors and 245 students. Again this provides the opportunity for greater individual student support and intervention when required.

Won’t this split up friendships?

Tutoring is only for 20 minutes of the day. For the remainder of the College day students are taught in year groups. From conversations with students the vast majority identify their friends as being in the same year group. Therefore it is likely that students will spend more time with their friends.

What does this mean for assemblies?

Assemblies would continue broadly as they do now but rather than a House assembly they would be held in Year Groups. This would allow assemblies to be age relevant and reflect year group issues instead of being targeted towards student from year 7 to 11.

What would happen to the current Houses?

Phoenix, Pioneer, Venture and Inspire would continue to be at the heart of Brixham College. Staff have expressed the importance of ensuring the four Houses are not diminished by a move to Year Groups. To protect the House culture the eight tutor groups in each Year Group will consist of two from each House. This means current students would be allocated to their new tutor group based on age and then House. The result being two House tutor groups in each year. New students joining the College in Year 7 would be assigned to one of the four Houses for the duration of their time at the College, as they are now. The current Heads of House will be re-assigned to have responsibility for particular Year Groups and it is envisaged to appoint a new position of House Champion to coordinate and cultivate the House ethos while senior staff will head individual Houses. Furthermore, it is intended that once each half-term there will be a House assembly.

How will Tutor time be organised?

We expect that students will be involved in varied activities that reflect the ‘rhythm of the year’ for that particular Year Group as well as activities to support their House.

Why can the tutor offer better support under this system?

The Year Group tutoring structure provides staff and students the opportunity to really get to know each other. Tutors will have more time and space for each student due to smaller tutor group sizes. Tutors can focus on the issues of the day for their tutor group as they approach significant points in their College life, such as when Year 8 students are applying for option choices.


Tutors will remain with their tutor group from Year 7 to Year 11 with the possibly of progressing onto the Sixth Form with their students. Tutors will see their tutor group develop through the College and will undoubtedly get to know them well so if a student has a problem, it is likely that the tutor will notice and address the issue straight away.

What other benefits are offered to the College community?

The Year Group tutoring structure will offer opportunities to re-launch competition between the Houses in sport, performing arts, quizzes and other events. Rewards will be operated through the new structure, fostering a sense of loyalty and responsibility to others in the Year Group. In this way, we expect that tutoring will develop greater positive values and a stronger community ethos. In addition, academic support through monitoring and targeted intervention will be more effective leading to improved outcomes for all students by structuring the role of Head of Years to support students specifically through what can be particular times of tension. The intention is the Head of Year 7 to be a fixed position, meaning they would not rotate with the year group. The advantage of this is that they can develop specialist skills and knowledge by liaising closely with primary partners to ensure transition from primary to secondary is as smooth as possible and students have a familiar face as their pastoral lead when they first join the College. In the same manner, the intention is to have a fixed Head of Year 11 with the skills and attributes necessary for supporting students through the examination process. The other Heads of Year would rotate through the year 8, 9 and 10. The majority of tutors would remain with students from year 7 to year 11 ensure positive relationships are built with students and home.

Is Year Group tutoring already decided – Why are you consulting?

Brixham College Governors and Senior Leadership Team have decided that a change to our tutoring system is worth extensive further investigation to ensure it is the right structure for the College in the future. It has not been decided when that would be, or what it would look like. It is very important that the structure comes out of consultation with all involved.


Staff Consultation

All teaching staff and support staff have had the opportunity to discuss the change to our tutoring structure and to meet with the Principal to ask questions and share ideas. Debate has been lively and the governors will be requesting written feedback from staff to inform the decision making process.


Student Consultation

The Student Council has discussed the idea of a change and feel it is worth gathering other students views. Therefore all students will be consulted via assemblies and discussion groups. Their views will be gathered to help inform the decision making process.


Parental Consultation

The Principal and Governing Body are seeking your views via the College website either by clicking on the link or by emailing to record your view.


How will a decision be made and when?

Consultation will close on Monday 21st May at 4pm. Once all consultations have been compiled, the Governors will meet to make the final decision. This will be on Thursday 24th May.


What will happen if the answer is Yes?

Once a decision is made, a time frame for implementation will be communicated to Staff, Students and Parents. The earliest this could be implemented would be September 2018.

M. Eager

Mr M. Eager – Principal.

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