The role of form tutor can be very rewarding, it’s a great opportunity to have a real impact on the well-being and achievement of a specific set of students, and a great chance to really get to know and understand them too. In this post we’ve summarised some of the things that we think make the best form tutors stand out.
An Able Communicator
As a form tutor, you’ll be on the frontline when it comes to communicating with both students and parents. You’ll need to be able to readily adapt your style to deliver different messages – sometimes good news, sometimes bad, and you’ll also need to be able to confidently talk and teach about even the most sensitive elements of PSHE with your tutor group. Even if you don’t have a specific remit for PSHE, questions on these topics have a habit of arising during tutor periods.
A Good Listener
You are likely to be an early port of call for young people in your tutor group if they have academic or wellbeing concerns about themselves or a friend. The most important thing you can do in this situation is to listen well – your tutees will hugely appreciate having a non-judgemental listening ear that they can share their concerns with.
An Innovative Problem Solver
Of course, once you’re done with listening, then there is always the question of ‘what next?’ and you’ll often need to be pretty inventive to come up with a satisfactory answer to this. You’ll soon become a walking encyclopaedia of signposts to further help, whether it’s helplines or websites or more experienced members of staff. Where appropriate, you may need to directly support your tutees through academic and emotional wellbeing issues and you’ll become a dab hand at thinking up ever more innovative solutions and support strategies to help students overcome their difficulties.
A Critical Friend
In addition to communicating with your tutees and their parents, you’ll also be expected to regularly communicate with your year head and other leaders either one-to-one or through meetings. The best form tutors are those who come to these meetings armed with their own ideas and suggestions and who are able to wholeheartedly support the year head as appropriate but are also unafraid to offer constructive criticism, based on their own experience, where they feel this will further the development of a more appropriate solution. The best constructive criticism is always delivered with a viable alternative suggestion.
An Accurate Record Keeper
Good form tutors need to be fastidious note takers and record keepers. You’ll be expected to chart everything from attendance, to behaviour to achievement. You’ll not only record this information (or check it, if it’s been recorded by others) but you’ll also need to interpret and act on it, working with students and parents to continuously strive to maximise their achievement.
A Consistent Rule Enforcer
Finally, whilst you may get quite friendly with your tutor group, it’s always important to remember that the best form tutors consistently enforce school rules and policy. If you ensure that the basics are taken care of with your tutor group then they are far less likely to get into trouble with other members of staff and will be better able to focus on learning. If you turn a blind eye to things like minor uniform indiscretions then you’re setting your tutees up for a fall later in the day with a stricter member of staff. Added to this, your tutees will respect your consistent rule enforcement, it will make them realise that you are reliable and predictable and make them feel confident in you as their form tutor. They’re not looking for a friend in you, they’re looking for someone who will look out for their academic and emotional wellbeing and help them address issues as they arise.
For help and guidance why not book onto one of Creative Education’s courses for form tutors.
What else do you think makes the best form tutors stand out? Are you a form tutor? If so, what do you think is the most important element of your role?