The Pastoral Role of the Year 7 Form Tutor with reference to the transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3.

You should produce a summary report considering the ways in which the Year 7 form tutor (rather than the subject tutor) has a unique role to play in ensuring that the transition from KS2 to KS3 is as smooth and effective as possible.

You may wish to take account of the similarities and differences in children’s experiences at KS2 and KS3.

Children’s Experiences in Primary and Secondary School

When pupils are in year 6, they usually spend most, if not all, of the school day in an almost identical environment: in the same classroom, with the same class, teacher, and support staff.  In addition, the school day probably follows a predictable pattern: an hour each of literacy and maths, followed by an afternoon of science, history, PE, and so on.  They may be in a class with children from a lower year group, and probably spend much of their time working in groups around tables.

By contrast, a new year 7 pupil will have to get used to moving from classroom to classroom; being taught by a variety of different teachers, in a variety new and contrasting learning styles.  Many schools set subjects individually, and so the pupil will be learning with many different children.  There is probably less emphasis on group work, more homework, and teaching assistants are rarer.

But lesson style is probably a minor concern compared to the culture shock when a pupil leaves a primary school they have known for years and arrive in the secondary school with as many as eight or more times as many pupils in their year, of whom they will know a fraction at best.  Often separated from friends, in comparatively vast school grounds, they face the current pupils who are considerably older and larger.

The Role of the Year 7 Form Tutor

In many ways, the role of the form tutor is to take on the pastoral role of the primary class teacher: for example to be available to listen to pupil concerns, to teach the personal and social education syllabus, to provide a positive role model and to resolve any conflicts between pupils.  Unlike the the primary class teacher however, the secondary form tutor will, depending upon the school timetable, see their pupils for only an hour or so each week.

The subject teacher’s role in the transition is to ease the new pupils into the new teaching styles.  The form tutor has the considerable task of helping the pupils to settle quickly into their new school in order to help them perform better in the weeks, months and years ahead.  By following the principles of preparation, communication, approachability and patience, the tutor can maximise their chance of success.

Preparation and Communication

The key to a successful transition is communication between the secondary school form tutor, the primary school staff, the new pupils and their parents.

Firstly, the form tutor should find out about their prospective tutees before they arrive.  Even if it is impossible to meet them in person, the tutor should collect from the primary school as much information on the pupil as possible: including particular requirements and concerns, and any information about interests and personality.  Thus the tutor can encourage the formation of friendships and provide the necessary support.

If parents are ill informed about the schools requirements and expectations, particularly regarding timings and equipment, then pupils may worry or feel humiliated.  By informing and reassuring parents about their responsibilities, the tutor can prevent the sort of problems that could have a significantly detrimental impact on the new pupil’s happiness in their new school.

Approachability and Patience

However careful and conscientious the form tutor may be, things will go wrong.  They must try to be approachable, so that pupils are happy to talk about their problems.  They must talk to other staff in the school to pass on concerns, and listen to anything that subject staff tell them about their tutees.

In the first few days of term especially, the form tutor must be patient with their pupils.  Undoubtedly belongings will be forgotten or lost, animosities as well as friendships will develop, timekeeping will not be as perfect as we might like; but come what may the tutor must remain reliable and approachable.

A form tutor who has found out as much as possible about their new pupils, who has acquainted parents and pupils alike with the expectations and procedures of the school, who has passed information to and from subject teachers and who is still friendly and approachable with all their pupils has probably made the transition as smooth and effective as possible.