We spend a lot of hours placing our students into their tutor groups, it is a carefully thought-out process with a lot of collaboration between Hungerhill and the primary schools. Here are some facts about our tutor groups.
* All of our tutor groups are 'mixed ability' groups
* All of our tutor groups are as balanced as possible with regards to the total number of students in each form and the balance of boys and girls
* These balances also apply to our three sectors
* There are 3 tutor groups in each sector (sector A is H, U and N, sector B is G, E and R, sector C is I, L and S)
* We guarantee our feeder schools that there will be a minimum of 2 girls and 2 boys in a tutor group from any particular primary, so that there are at least 3 other familiar faces with them - unfortunately, we can't offer this guarantee to our out of catchment schools due to numbers coming from those schools
* We do not ask our primaries for information on friendship groups. As we cannot ensure that we can place friends together, we feel it is good practice not to ask so as not to give false hope and to make the process fair to all students
* We do liaise very closely with our primaries throughout the process and ensure that any potential issues (in terms of mixes of students) are taken into account
* We plan for all children to have the same form tutor throughout their five years at Hungerhill so that a close working relationship can be established between the form tutor, students and parents. This is obviously not always possible, for a number of reasons, but in most cases this is the case
Here are some other important factors to consider:
* Secondary School is a natural time in a child's development where it is important that they spread their wings and learn to meet and mix with new people - in fact, staying in the 'protective bubble' of close primary friendships can actually hamper their progress and ability to mix with new people
* They WILL make new friends at secondary school as they meet a wider pool of like-minded people with similar interests
* From experience, it is not unusual for close friendships from primary school to naturally drift apart (somewhat or totally) at secondary school. When this happens, if students are in the same tutor group and the 'drift' comes more from one side of the friendship than the other, this can make the situation incredibly difficult for all involved
* One reason that we do not ask primary schools to identify friendship groups is because this can, in itself, cause friendship issues and fallouts. For example, if we asked students to 'choose' a set number of friends (e.g. choose 2 friends) they would like to be with, it could cause other people to be left out of that group (e.g if there was a close group of 4 friends, 1 would be left out or they would have to split into 2x pairs, the decision here could cause it's own issues). There could also be an issue where one person who had been chosen by a particular friend made a different choice about their preferred friend, causing obvious issues for all involved. There have been examples within school of where, at times, students have been given these sort of friendship group choices to make (such as for a specific event or 'roomings' on a school trip). This invariably leads to fallouts and upset when an agreement cannot be found between them.
* Attempting to place groups of friends together whilst maintaining the other balances required in a tutor group is not possible. We would not feel right asking children to identify someone they wanted to stay with and then not being able to follow that through in reality. We feel that it would be unfair to raise false hopes.
* Tutor groups are just for lessons and form time, they (or sectors) do not affect lunch or break times - they will still be able to travel to and from school and share all social times with their primary friends - all extra-curricular activities can be done with their friends
* When in lessons, teachers will always place students in seating plans, they will not be able to choose to sit with/work with friends
* New friendships made at secondary school often go on to be their strongest ones - when we ask Y11 students, none are only still friends with their friends from primary school and most say that their strongest friendships include those who they did not know before starting at Hungerhill - this is usually the case by the end of the first few days in Y7 in fact
* Joining extra-curricular clubs as early as possible (lunchtime and after school) is a great ways to meet new friends
* Being placed outside of one's comfort zone is a really important part of growing up; it is necessary for them to gain confidence and become young adults who are comfortable in unfamiliar company
* We facilitate a number of activities in the early days and weeks that help the children mix within their tutor group and get to know one another quickly
Whilst we understand that initial feelings about their tutor group will be based upon who else they know in their group, we do ask that students and parents take on board the points above and remain open-minded about the reality of how things will be after the initial nervousness of the first few days have passed. Your child's form tutor, Head of Year and Achievement Leader will all be on hand in September to assist your child with settling in should they need them. After giving them a little while to find their feet, please don't hesitate to get in touch should your child require some further support with regards to settling in and building friendships - it does take different lengths of time for children to feel comfortable in their new surroundings but we are here to help.