Jamie Minns (OC 2022, Vanbrugh) discusses the Tutor Partnering programme.
Tell us about the Tutor Partnering system in House.
Members of the Upper Sixth in Houses – and later in the year, the Lower Sixth, will join the afternoon Registration and the Registration slot on a Tuesday morning of another year group from First Form to Fifth Form within their House, spending time with them and generally supporting the members of that tutor group.
How does this work?
Part of the idea is to break down barriers that might otherwise slip in. We are lucky here in that we are a pretty cohesive unit as a School, you know people from other year groups through activities, sport, music, drama, Houses, and so on, but in the Sixth Form, with your studies, you do start to feel a little separated from some of the new pupils further down the School. This provides a great way of keeping in touch with wider School life. I think that goes both ways and, for the younger year groups, it can perhaps feel quite intimidating at first approaching and talking with some of the Sixth Form who are, after all, on the verge of adulthood. It definitely helps with that approachability.
How do you support your group?
In all sorts of ways. I think there is that pastoral element where it might allow one of the younger pupils an opportunity to ask questions about what it is like in the Sixth Form, studying certain subjects to A Level, or even if there were a question they felt more comfortable talking about with someone who is closer in age.
How did you find this as a younger pupil?
This was a new initiative as of September 2021, but I was able to achieve something similar through my involvement in Sport and in Drama productions, which allowed me that opportunity to have direct connections with older pupils and students. I know that really benefitted me, and, for others that may not have had their option if Sport, Drama, or an equivalent opportunity was not really their thing. I think having that person you are friendly with in another year group is beneficial. For instance, I was able to have an in-depth conversation about one of the A Level choices that I was considering at the time with Téo Loeffen (OC 2020, Gascoigne) who I played hockey with; it was great to have that perspective. Through this programme, it is brilliant that more pupils are getting that same opportunity.
And how do you feel about the Tutor Partnering programme as a Sixth Former?
I was a little uncertain about it at first to be completely honest, but I really enjoy it. As much as anything, I enjoy getting to know the younger pupils and hearing a fresh perspective on something that takes you out of your day-to-day life even for a few minutes over Registration.
The School places a lot of store in its Leadership Traits, is this scheme a perfect bedfellow?
Absolutely. As one of the Deputy Heads of School, I think there are perhaps more crossovers for me with areas of my activity in that role and the Tutor Partnering scheme. However, you can readily see how it does, and, more to the point, provides those opportunities for those who are not Prefects or Heads of School. Helping to build confidence and having the courage to talk with people you are not so familiar with, developing empathy in understanding their perspectives, or helping someone take responsibility for their studies by asking an older peer when they need some guidance.