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Our Tutor Group System

Vertical tutor groups

Dainfern College has in place a vertical tutor group system - House-based groups of 12 to 15 students of mixed ages from Grade 8 to Grade 12. Tutors meet twice a week with their tutor groups and the smaller groups make pastoral care more meaningful and individualised.

Vertical tutoring is a general trend in the top international schools in Australia, Europe, the UK and America. Some of the benefits of vertical tutor groups include:

  • Senior students have the opportunity to be a leader in their tutor groups.  Leadership qualities are important life skills that are highly valued in higher education and by employers.
  • Vertical tutoring systems counteract negative aspects of peer pressure and the most frequent form of reported bullying, peer bullying. Schools that operate a vertical system report a significant reduction in incidents of bullying.
  • All High School teachers now tutor and the students are organised into smaller tutor units that enable them to gain greater individual attention and support.
  • Students stay with the same tutor throughout their High School journey and the continuity of care within the tutor group means that students feel a sense of belonging and form a stronger connection with the tutor.
  • A student’s experience of vertical tutoring is that of being part of a ‘family’, with older students looking out for and supporting younger students in the tutor group. Older students develop a more caring outlook as they watch out for younger students in their tutor group.
  • It allows for greater creativity within the tutor group experience.
  • Older students help the younger ones with an understanding of school commitments, organisation, social and relationship issues, and with homework! Younger students help to inform older students about their life and issues at school.
  • Peer mentoring is easily organised within vertical tutoring, benefiting both the mentor and the mentee.
  • It helps Grade 8 students integrate into the life of the school quickly and in small, secure groups.
  • It helps all students to get to know others across the school grades.

The House Directors for Junior Students still oversee the Grade 8s and 9s, especially the Grade 8s in their first year.

How do vertical tutor groups work in practice?

Each House has 11 Tutor Groups with about 12 - 15 students in each group. Each group is comprised of two to three students from each of the grades, from Grade 8 to Grade 12. The students will remain in the same tutor group for their school career. Grade 8s therefore come into an established caring system and are easily integrated into the life of the College with lots of support from older students. Grade 11 mentors and Grade 8 mentees are placed in the same tutor group. Students have the opportunity to interact with friends in their own grade during academic classes and breaks.

We strongly believe in the concept of vertical tutor groups because they achieve the following:

  • Better trust in smaller groups.
  • Reduced incidence of bullying
  • More friends in other year groups.
  • Allow older students to care for younger students.
  • Provide an opportunity for younger students to be helped by older students (for example, when choosing options).
  • Provide an opportunity for students to learn from each other.
  • Allow all students to understand and be aware of the whole school picture.
  • Allow more contact time between mentee and mentor.
  • Enhance peer mentoring.
  • Result in a greater sense of loyalty and responsibility.
  • Encourage friendly competition within and between tutor groups.
  • Allow tutors to give individual attention and support.
  • Create a greater sense of belonging and being part of a family.
  • Help develop closer relationship between tutors and parents due to smaller groups.

The Pastoral Care team is confident that each and every child really benefits from being fully integrated into the smaller “family “unit that the vertical tutor group structure provides.

There are 11 House Tutors in each House: please visit our House pages to see the Tutors for Griffin, Kraken and Phoenix.

Cheryl Coetzee
Deputy Principal: Pastoral Care & Outreach

Dainfern College

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Dainfern College, 96 Broadacres Drive, Dainfern

PO Box 3199, Dainfern, 2055

Tel: +27 (0)11 469 0635; Email:

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