Secondary School Form Tutors: A Guide for Parents
The role of a secondary school form tutor may vary from school to school, but they’ll be the first point of contact for your child. They’re usually the first member of staff they see in the morning and the one with all the messages and information. Ideally, they’ll support your child on difficult days and celebrate their successes and achievements, big or small.
The registration group can be known as many different things, such as tutor group, form group, tutor set or house registration group. The first priority of the form tutor will be to register your child at school. There are two legal registration times during the school day, first thing in the morning and after lunch.
The form tutor can monitor punctuality and attendance through the register. If your child is ill or off school, it’s helpful to let the school know before the morning register is taken and the school will let you know the best way to do this. If your child is marked absent in the morning without reason, you can expect a telephone call at some point of the day from the school office to ask why.
The form tutor will also mark your child late if they don’t turn up on time to registration. It’s a good idea to encourage your child to be punctual. As your child gets older they’ll become more responsible for their own punctuality. Your child’s form tutor will be part of the support network of teachers who will help your child understand and appreciate the importance of being on time and meeting their work deadlines in readiness for life.
If your child is persistently late to school they may be put on a punctuality report and the form tutor could monitor this report. You could go through these Time Word Problems Cards together with your child if you feel they need to get used to working out time and timings.
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If your child’s school has a uniform, one of the form tutor’s duties will be to check students in their class are dressed in the right uniform. Even if your child’s school doesn’t have a uniform, there’ll still be a dress code. This is because schools like the students to look smart and feel ready for the learning environment.
Schools will generally expect your child to have their own equipment for each day. Basic equipment would include a pen, pencil, ruler and rubber as well as subject-specific equipment such as a scientific calculator or crayons. This is because when a whole class has the correct equipment it usually helps the start of each lesson run smoothly.
Your child’s form tutor will have access to their report data and progress in each subject. They’re often the contact point for any initial concerns you may have about subjects and they can make understanding your child’s grades for effort and attainment a little easier.
For non-teachers, the language used around grades can be confusing for parents, so the tutor should be able to clarify. The tutor is also likely to have regular conversations with each of their tutees about major issues such as choosing their options for GCSE and managing revision.
If you have an overview of your child’s homework expectations, you can help to support them manage their time at home, particularly at the start of a new school year when it can often seem a little overwhelming.
Your child may have many concerns when they start secondary school and hopefully your tutor will be able to support and reassure them. For example, they’ll be able to help with the logistics of lunchtime or where to get snacks during break times. They’ll also advise on where the toilets are and making sure your child has a friend to buddy up with during the day, as well as letting your child know where the quiet spaces in school are if they need a little break from it all.
I asked my current tutor group who are in year 9 for their suggestions of what makes a good form tutor. Here are some of their responses:
- Someone who listens to my problems and helps me solve them.
- Someone who smiles in the morning and can make me laugh.
- A good tutor will make going to school worth it.
- A tutor who can get me out of detention would be great. (I’m not too sure about this one!)
- Someone who’s kind.
- Someone who encourages us to be better versions of ourselves.
- Someone we can go to about ‘stuff’.
- Takes time to get to know us.
- Lets us have some fun
Your child’s school will usually have opportunities for you to meet with their tutor at some point during the academic year. They’ll also be contactable by email or you could leave a telephone message for them. If they can’t answer your questions, they’ll be able to point you in the direction of someone who can. If you feel a face to face conversation is better, you could also try to make an appointment.
All being well, your child’s tutor will be someone you can contact and feel comfortable in doing so. Most importantly, they will support your child in their journey through secondary school.