Thorpe St Andrew School has numerous strengths which combine to make it a successful school. Divided over two sites, the pastoral structure is headed by the Principal who oversees the whole school and is supported by a Vice Principal located on each site. Backing the senior management are five Assistant Principals, each with a specific pastoral duty.
The whole school is divided into six houses split between the two sites. This system has multiple benefits, allowing the school to be divided into manageable working units as well as creating an intimate atmosphere for each student within a large school. Each House, comprising approximately 234 students, is led by a Head of House who is responsible for wellbeing, managing the mentoring programme and promoting the House ‘ethos’ through assemblies and other House activities.
Houses are a vertical cross section of the school from Years 7 to 11 enabling inter year links to be made, preventing year group isolation and encouraging the development of social skills. Working alongside the Head of House is a leadership link teacher to ensure the smooth transfer of information between the Leadership Team and teachers.
Within each House, the students are divided into nine forms, each with their own Form Tutor. Mirroring the House structure, forms are made up of students from Years 7 to 11. Therefore, the Form Tutors’ workload is spread across the year allowing them to spend more time on individual students, notably when writing reports as they will only have to complete four or five at a time. The Form Tutor also conducts an ‘ongoing’ mentoring programme through regular form time contact which is undertaken on a rolling programme allowing each student sufficient individual attention. Seen as a ‘family’ the form group allows students to be given responsibilities which grow with age. Older students mentor the younger in the form, especially during the transfer from Year 6 to 7 and from Key Stage 3 to 4.
Each student stays with the same Form Tutor and Head of House, save exceptional circumstances, throughout their time at Thorpe St Andrew School, allowing a good relationship to flourish. Furthermore, information is always available from Form Tutors or Heads of House regarding progress, grades, attitude, attendance, behaviour and rewards.
However, Houses are not isolated groups within the school. Inter-house competitions occur regularly in a variety of areas. Lessons are not conducted within form groups allowing social networking outside of the House and Form. Similarly, year group meetings are still convened when necessary, for example assemblies for Year 11 in order to discuss work experience or Sixth Form options and welcoming assemblies for Year 7 intake.
In addition to the teaching staff, the BEST Team, of which two members are located on each site, works to ensure that the ‘Behaviour for Education initiative’ is upheld. This includes dealing with issues of poor attendance and behaviour, contacting home in the instance of difficulties at school, arranging home visits, interviewing parents and students, implementing strategies to improve either behaviour or attendance and liaising with the Heads of House with regard to individual students. A further ‘specialised’ member of the BEST Team is available to deal with ongoing, ‘family’ issues and child protection.