Vertical Mentor Groups

Our VMG Continents are: Africa, Asia, Americas and Oceania

Our tutor groups are known as Vertical Mentor Groups because each VMG has students of differing ages from Year 7 through to Year 11, with approximately 5 students from each year group. Each VMG is named after a country, and all are linked to one of four continents. Our continents are Africa, Asia, Americas and Oceania.

VMG time from September 2019 will be mid-morning starting at 10.25am and lasts for 20 minutes. Each VMG has a mentor, usually a teacher, who delivers a programme of discussions and activities centred on themes outside the usual curriculum. All students have one weekly assembly in their VMG, together with all other VMGs in their continent. Year groups will also have an assembly in rotation, usually around once a month.

The themes for the continent assemblies are based on the habits of success, skills and qualities to enable the students to become independent learners, as well as having a greater awareness and understanding of current affairs and events happening around the world.

There will be other themes each week, where all students continue to improve their literacy and reading skills, and in ultimately “buddy” reading will also take place between some targetted students.

What are the aims of our Vertical Mentoring Groups?

  • To structure VMG time so it is as meaningful and purposeful as possible.
  • To facilitate VMG tutors concentrating on smaller, key groups of students at certain times of the year, for example when Year 8 and Year 10 students are picking their guided pathways, or Year 11 are preparing for trial examinations or college interviews. Students get more individual attention at key times of the year,
  • The structure helps VMG tutors’ knowledge and expertise in whole school initiatives and key events, rather than just one year, and allows particular attention with fewer students, such as support with college applications.
  • VMGs help with Transition as Year 6 are welcomed into their new VMGs and immediately have older students they can relate to and receive support and help from too. VMGs help prevent students from feeling ‘lost’ in a big school
  • More learning conversations can take place, as peers within VMGs can support younger students, allowing both between tutor and student and student to student discussions;
  • VMGs help create a more family atmosphere in tutor time, and during other Continent events, particularly as there are more opportunities for peer mentoring and the development of leadership skills amongst older students, who are seen as role models, but also can be supported in turn during their GCSEs by words of encouragement from younger students;
  • Students will remain where possible with the same mentor/tutor throughout their school career, with a handful of students joining each year from Year 6.
  • At key times, there is even more effective partnership and communication with parents as VMG tutors will have smaller numbers of students in their mentor group, compared to previously.
  • We are keen to further removed potential social and cultural barriers by encouraging students from all year groups to engage positively with each other, and reflect the nature of society and the workplace. People rarely exclusively work with only their own age group!
  • Students can observe the entire school journey through the eyes and experiences of others in their VMG, before it is their turn, allaying fears and pitfalls, by increasing understanding.
  • Continental Assemblies have even more of a community ethos.
  • There are opportunities for friendly competitions between VMGs and Continents, for example during the annual ‘Sports Olympics’, during charity fund-raising, and during initiatives such as improving attendance.

Where did the idea come from?

  • Vertical Tutoring is not new; some schools have been structured in this way for many years. In the predecessor Hillsview Academy there had also been mixed-age ‘houses’ but more recently there had been year tutor groups.
  • Education continues to change rapidly and become more personalised so we strive to look for ways to further support and guide our students. Many of the best/most improved schools in the country operate a system of Vertical Mentoring whereby tutor groups are a mixture of all ages.
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