Vertical Tutoring - the best way to educate youth in a post-pandemic world

Placing the family at the heart of the holistic learning journey - building caring communities

“Instead of preparing students for an unknown future, schools should see themselves as creating it.” (Peter Barnard)

Retired school principal, Peter Barnard, regarded as the global expert in multi-age organization (Vertical Tutoring), has spent over 25 years researching and developing the Vertical Tutoring System which he successfully introduced into his own schools, helped countless others doing the same and has run training programs and workshops in schools around the world.

Vertical Tutoring has transformed hundreds of secondary or high schools into effective learning communities, reduced bullying, improved school attendance and overall academic results and secured parents and students as partners in the learning experience. It is a wonderful system to introduce into schools needing to change the education narrative in a post-pandemic world.

Key features of a Vertical Tutoring System

  •  Students are organized into Houses which are run by a Head of House whose role is similar to that of a principal of a small school.
  • Every student is placed into a multi-age Tutor group (whanau) of between 18 and 20 students. There are a maximum of four students from any particular age or year or grade in each Tutor group. Each Tutor group is balanced—age, gender, academic, co-curricular and social factors, including individual personalities and qualities across the Tutor group as a whole. 
  • Each Tutor group has two Tutors. The Lead Tutor is a teacher. The Co-Tutor might be a teacher or non-teaching staff member.
  • The Tutor group meets for 20—25 minutes each day before the morning break, a collaborative non-teaching time to enhance the personal development of all students in a safe and secure environment.
  • Students are learning in an environment which truly reflects the society they live in and prepares them for the real world of work. They develop the self-confidence to connect, interact and positively engage with other students of different ages and cultures. They are encouraged and supported to take responsibility and develop leadership roles and an entrepreneurial spirit. All students have opportunities to develop as facilitators, mentors, co-tutors and people able to positively influence their school community.
  • Once a year a student and his or her parents meet the Tutor for a 30—40 minute academic tutorial, which is centered on reflection and the development of strategies for improvement (emotional, psychological and cognitive).

How a Vertical Tutoring System is implemented

The Staff Senior Leadership team is trained to implement the Vertical Tutoring System in collaboration with teachers, non-teaching staff, students and parents.

The Staff Senior Leadership team structure, which is focused on learning and teaching, is Values driven and becomes dependent on trust and distributed leadership. ALL learning relationships flow and support the process of developing the whole child.

Concluding thoughts

When a school commits to the key principles of a Vertical Tutoring System and wholeheartedly embraces all aspects of Vertical Tutoring, change is transformative, creating a collaborative culture between parents, students and staff. Vertical Tutoring offers students a sense of connectedness and belonging that makes them more accomplished learners and better citizens, removing much of the risk from current schooling, which includes youth suicide and the higher levels of anxiety students are experiencing as they progress up the school.

“What Vertical Tutoring does is to provide a new learning support operation that replaces the factory model and adds operational coherence. It builds value in and requires no social programs and no cost other than time to learn. It transforms the culture of schools by positively building inclusive, collaborative learning relationships and partnerships.” (Peter Barnard)