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Form time - could the time be used more wisely?

(22 Posts)
BackInTime Tue 05-Nov-19 09:17:11

Interested to hear from teachers and parents about what their DC do in form time? At DCs school this is 40mins a day for registration and any assemblies or PHSEE talks but mostly they don't do very much. I can't help thinking that this much time each day is wasted and could be better spent.

OP’s posts: |
MonChatEstMagnifique Tue 05-Nov-19 09:27:53

In my sons school they use them for the things you say in year 7 to 10. When there's no assembly/talks/phse/admin, they tell the kids to use the time to get all their chat and gossip out of the way so they're ready to start work. In year 11 they use the form time to do intervention with teachers doing extra lessons and helping with revision.

I think it's good that the kids get some time in the morning to just chat with friends as hopefully it means less chat in actual lessons.

Comefromaway Tue 05-Nov-19 09:55:15

At ds's school its 20 mins in the morning and 15 mins afternoon.

At ds's school form time in Year 11 is used for extra English or maths practice (student are assigned a form tutor who teaches their weakest out of the two.) However there was some opposition to this inititative from form tutors as to quote one Year 10 tutor, "I use this time for pastoral issues & build relationships. A student can walk in my form and I think, something's gone on here, I need to intervene before it affects the rest of the school day." As a parent I agree with this. In Year 9 & 10 my ds's form tutor was a much needed reference point for ds (who is autistic), someone who he knew he could go to if he was having difficulties.

MonChatEstMagnifique Tue 05-Nov-19 10:06:37

Comefromaway

That's a good point. My son has had the same form teacher for 3 years. This teacher seems to have built a really good relationship with all the kids. They all see him as a teacher they can talk to and trust and that's because he has time most days to just to chat to the kids about what's going on at school and home. He's a familiar face who is just there. Many kids won't seek out help by going to pastoral care but will speak to a teacher who is in front of them asking if they're OK.

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 05-Nov-19 10:07:29

Amazed at the lengths 2 PP have quoted!
At DD's school it is 20mins per day in the morning. With assembly once per week extending the time by maybe 10 mins.
Plus last year in y9 she had 1 'life skills' lesson fortnightly (seemed to cover things like PSHE, but also voting, money management etc).

malmontar Tue 05-Nov-19 10:07:53

DDs form is 30mins at the end of the day. Review of the day and mostly reading. She has been asked to go to a book club on Mondays instead of this and they also have a pizza party if they win the most merits for that week. Her school does vertical tutoring though so may be different. I've been surprised at how productive it is. I don't remember our from time being productive.

lanthanum Tue 05-Nov-19 10:59:07

40 minutes is a long time if there's nothing structured. Sometimes it's left to individual form tutors to plan activities, and some do more than others. There is value in having some slack for picking up issues, individual or group, and it may be that the slot is used for intervention work with some pupils, or occasionally extracurricular stuff. Schools with lots of buses sometimes have a longer morning slot to buffer a little so that late buses don't affect the main timetable.

Often at least one session is spent reading. DD's school have gone one step further, and for one form period a week they are in "reading groups" - they swap rooms and each form tutor leads a group reading a different book - with some sorting by ability. I presume they're working their way through books the English department has in the cupboard but isn't currently teaching in any year group.

Sometimes current affairs is covered - often watching Newsround or similar, maybe a quiz.

RedskyToNight Tue 05-Nov-19 11:52:43

Tutor time is 30 minutes at the end of the day (15 minutes on Friday). As with others here the time is spent covering PSHE, having assemblies, giving out messages and with pastoral issues. The time is also used for school interventions (these are normally ad-hoc for a few weeks and only involve a small number of students).

Yes, some of the time is spent with the students just chatting while the tutor deals with others, but I actually think a wind down time at the end of the day is quite valuable.

StanleySteamer Tue 05-Nov-19 17:21:31

On another thread I have said I am leaving Mumsnet, for a load of reasons and this in fact was my last check-in before cutting myself off.

HOWEVER, in the years 12 & 13 I was given the "elite" form and it was the form time I spent with the students which made the difference between them getting into a mediocre university, or none at all, and getting into Russell Group universities. This time should be well-structured and students should be divided up into groups and discussing their next steps with their form teachers, doing presentations to the group as a whole, practising uni interviews, etc etc. Far too much to put down here. I have already been sanctioned for spamming on this site, even though all I did was ask members to pm me if they wanted further info, but there you go. So I will simply say, there are books on the internet, for both teachers and students about how to make the best use of this time to ensure they get to a top uni, especially from a non-selective or independent school. and this absolutely is my last post on Mumsnet!

SansaSnark Tue 05-Nov-19 20:23:21

40 minutes is a long time! I teach, and I see my tutor group for about 20 minutes a day (bell goes 25 minutes before start of lessons, but there is a 5 minute grace period). We do have a structured program of assembly, literacy, numeracy, PSHE and mental health stuff, but I do also try to allow 1 day a week for chat/relationship building with my tutor group, or for any extra things that come up during the week- for example today we talked about safety with fireworks and the local fireworks displays happening around the town.

physicskate Tue 05-Nov-19 22:49:05

As a form tutor, I always spent at least half of form time trying to log onto the friggin computer to register my form!! My lab was in a different building, with several flights of stairs to traverse. I was expected to be in my lab for drop in help before form time... it was always a nightmare hat I could never quite navigate gracefully like (seemingly) all of my colleagues.

BackInTime Wed 06-Nov-19 09:04:49

Interesting to see how form time is so varied. I do get that there is value in have some time in the school day to deal with other issues outside structured learning and to build relationships. However at DCs school I think how form time goes depends on the teacher - so they read, chat and catch up on homework when not doing anything PHSE related. I just feel time could be better spent in Y11.

OP’s posts: |
Kazzyhoward Wed 06-Nov-19 09:11:43

All depends on the teacher really. I remember them to be pretty pointless (we had the same form teacher for the full 5 years) - he just took the register and that was about all that happened unless there was something specific to announce (usually maybe once a fortnight or so). Other than that, the teacher would be marking books or just disappear, leaving the pupils to just talk.

Sounds the same with my son currently at secondary school. He's had a different teacher each year. His first year form teacher was really good, spent a lot of time talking to them, sometimes as a group, sometimes individually. But he said years 2 to 5 were pretty pointless, never anything happening, he says his year 5 form teacher was particularly useless and didn't even give out notices/information which meant they actually missed a lot of things (he was always late so never went to the staff room to pick up the notices to read out!).

StanleySteamer Wed 06-Nov-19 20:11:08

@Kazzyhoward that last form teacher should have been shot! As you say, turning up late to school does not give a teacher time to go to his/her year base to get the notices nor to log on to the friggin computer which can take an age. notices should be written on the board so no one misses them and individual notes to students should be put out on the desks/tables behind which they usually sit so that none of this impinges on form time. The computer should be used to see who has bunked off a lesson recently and the student challenged about this, (6th form mostly), i used to write this up on the board, rarely had to do this with any one student more than twice.

justagrumblebum Wed 06-Nov-19 20:19:58

Keep re-reading Stanley's post to try and figure out whether form tutors should actually be shot? I hope that's not the case...

Am a sixth form tutor. They know they need to turn up on time, every day, or they will face my wrath. I've got them well trained. Also am so tired because five lesson day and data entry due by 5pm this evening for about 13 classes, I have actually forgotten the OP. Zen, peace and love as I go off to write yet more ucas references

StanleySteamer Wed 06-Nov-19 20:46:09

@justagrumblebum, only form tutors who cannot be arsed to do their jobs properly or get to work in time to do same. (Only with a popgun by the way, enough to wake them up!)

I was you by the way, and I absolutely loved this part of my job, and by a miracle turned out to be good at it. so when I retired I was urged to put into a book all the stuff I did with my forms to help kids from an ordinary comp get into RG unis. So I did, and I wrote another one for form teachers As for UCAS references and personal statements, my personal record for getting a student to rewrite their PS was 7, but the girl then got into Nottingham on her dream course. pm me your address and I'll send you a free copy of the teacher's book. I have not done this for anyone else and if I just told you where to find it on Amazon I'd be told I was spamming and would hit my second strike out! Even this may get me a strike out! Don't get too tired, it can't be like this every evening!
All the very best
Stan

Qqwweerrtty Thu 07-Nov-19 23:14:40

All of the following gets done in form time:

Silent reading
Diary signing
Assembly
Pshe
Celebrating birthdays
Catching up on homework
Organising secret Santa
Practising dances routines
Voting for form reps school council etc
Listening to feedback from reps
Discussing school policy
Laughing about dance routines, music taste etc
Sorting out friendship/bullying/discipline issues
Shouting at them because they have been naughty in geography/french again.
Eating food they have baked and brought in
Listening to presentations about pets,hobbies charities etc.
Writing letters to pupils in sister school
Preparing fundraising activities
Listening to moans about too much homework, annoying uniform rules etc.
Listening to music
Watching funny/interesting clips
Watching and discussing news

A mixture of educational and social stuff.

Kazzyhoward Fri 08-Nov-19 08:22:20

I think this thread highlights the massive chasm between good and poor teachers.

reluctantbrit Fri 08-Nov-19 09:47:34

DD's is 30 minutes but that includes the register and all kind of general updates/information so 20 minutes are left for a topic.

PSHE is a seperate subject so they don't cover it in form time.

Form time covers often what's going on in the world, they are encouraged to read and watch the news. They encourage the form to discuss, whole form or as a team and then presenting findings, basically teaching soft skills. They plan charity events or work on suggestions for the school council.

Sometimes they are allowed to silent revise or read. They have a dedicated reading time per day anyway, all pupils have to have a reading book with them all the time.

Purpledragon40 Fri 08-Nov-19 10:17:56

I tend to find the only use of form time is that people turn up late for or miss my form time instead of my first lesson of the morning though they still take forever to move through the corridors.

StanleySteamer Fri 08-Nov-19 14:06:04

In the sixth form, particularly yr 12, the form should be divided up into friendship groups of about 5 students, each group should meet with the form teacher about once per fortnight, goals should be agreed and noted between each student and the teacher. The members of the group should work with each other to help find ways to achieve said goals. At each meeting previous tasks should be reviewed and if no progress made, again other members of the group should help the member with the problem. Teacher to be used as a last resort. For instance, at the beginning or the year all syllabi for all subjects should be downloaded so students know where they are going. Then all subject teachers should be contacted by the students and all their schemes of work passed on so that, again, all students should know what each lesson will contain and thus be able to prepare for it. The use of study periods should be discussed group by group or in the form as a whole, if all they are doing is homework and coursework type projects they are not doing enough to get into top unis. The concept of "reading around the subject" should be introduced and followed up. They should keep a diary of how study periods were used for a fortnight to ensure they really have cottoned on to this idea,. The concept of study groups should be introduced and suitable groups set up across forms with subject leaders from within the year group, possibly lead by yr 13 students. Reading lists should be requested to facilitate reading around the subject.

Honestly there is so much that a good form teacher can do to help his/her charges maximise their grades. There is much more they should be doing to help with individual problems, ensuring that the students are using their free time sensibly to build up a substantial "package" to go with their UCAS personal statement, making sure that any bad A-level choices are sorted out quickly. Helping with choice of degrees and Universities. So much! I loved it and after the initial slight shock to the system, my form students realised they had a totally switched on form teacher and that they were going to do well and learn massive self-reliance when it came to learning, study skills, revision, past paper practice, interview technique, exam skills, looking after themselves physically and mentally. So they really appreciated being in the "elite" group, they became proud of it and half of the subject study group leaders came from this one form. they then all went on to do really well in their A-levels and off to the uni of their choice. "Esprit de corps" and self-confidence building is the key. There is SOO much more i could add but not enough room.

Rosieposy4 Sat 09-Nov-19 20:53:56

Ours is officially 10 mins per day, though there is a further ten mins prior to that when the kids are allowed in school. I always make sure I am in my lab before then ( over running meetings not withstanding) so my tutor group nearly all are in at that point.
We do something specific and different each morning (points and notices, silent reading, Friday quiz, etc etc and I use the time to chat to and check in with my form, especially those with various problems. It is literally one of the best privileges of being a teacher. I spend 2 days with these kids when they come in for transition in y6, then I am with them every school day until the end of y11. I have been really lucky, I have always had amazing tutor groups full of interesting people.

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