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By Valérie Fournet, LCIS

In a bid to develop relationships and to foster a real sense of 'family' and community within La Côte International School's existing House system in the Secondary school, we restructured our pastoral system and implemented the Vertical Tutoring model.

Peter A. Barnard, author of "Vertical Tutoring" writes: Mixed-age tutor groups are an ideal preparation for the development of student leadership and mentoring.

The LCIS House structures remained unchanged, our Homerooms were modified to include students from mixed age groups, as opposed to a more traditional Homeroom structure determined exclusively by academic year groups.

Each vertical Homeroom now comprises of 15-20 students from different academic groups in Lower or Upper Secondary. Each of the four Houses is led by a Head of House, whose important role involves developing a dynamic and exciting team spirit and fostering healthy competition.

Healthy competition is an important part of our Vertical Tutoring. When students compete for their House, there is a genuine sense of belonging and a desire to be part of the team.

We believe that introducing the new Vertical Tutoring system will foster a friendlier, more cohesive and supportive social environment, which would provide students with leadership opportunities.

For example, students from all Homerooms cooperate and work together on a number of House Challenges throughout the year, and this enables our House captains to guide and lead younger students.

The feedback and results so far have proven very positive and the implementation of the new Vertical Tutoring system has resulted in a unified community within our school community in which all the students are proud to belong and where students of different age groups can get to know each other better.

We believe that it's important that all students have the opportunity to demonstrate their talents, so we offer a wide range of Inter-House competitions: dodgeball, debating, spelling and much more). Additionally, at the beginning of each half term, a new House Challenge is launched in Assembly.

All students can also contribute to their House by collecting E-praise House points. Thanks to our on line reward system, students can work together to achieve success for their Houses.

Motivation is key and at the end of each half term we celebrate the House that has won the most points with a prize, such as a special school outing to the ice-rink, or a delicious celebratory breakfast!

Vertical Tutoring is still new to our school but the benefits are already evident: Vertical Tutoring encourages mutual cooperation, respect and a positive environment, especially for younger students.

Author bio

Valérie FournetValérie Fournet - Assistant Head Pastoral & Head of World Languages Secondary School at LCIS
Originally from France, Valérie completed her degree in English Language and Linguistics before moving to the UK in 2001, where she completed her PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages, followed by a Masters’ degree in educational leadership.
Valérie started her teaching career in 2003 as a teacher of French and Spanish, also taking on the role of House Coordinator, Assistant Head of Year and Head of MFL. Valérie joined La Côte International School in 2018, where she has been leading the Pastoral Care and World Languages department in Secondary. Outside school, she is an avid reader and regularly plays badminton. A keen traveller, Valérie loves to explore and discover new countries and languages.