What is Vertical Tutoring?

What is Vertical Tutoring?


The times of clear divisions between age groups within schools are over. Vertical Tutoring (VT) provides a new paradigm shift of learning, enabling students of different year groups to interact with each other and to share knowledge and skills. Amity International School Amsterdam explains what vertical tutoring entails and how it benefits students’ academic and personal growth during their school career.

Schools create a safe space and enhance a feeling of belonging to a family via the Vertical Tutoring system

What is Vertical Tutoring?

Vertical Tutoring is a system designed to build deeper relationships among students and teachers and within the school community across traditional year groups. In other words, it is a personalised learning approach that allows teachers to get to know their students much better, therefore creating a safe space and enhancing a feeling of belonging to a family.

This is created through a house system, in which students are assigned into different tutor groups within the school. Each group is led by House Advisors who welcome students of different age groups to a dedicated Vertical Tutor time every day. By grouping students of various ages together, schools move away from the linear system that focuses on interactions of students of the same age, hence opening the doors to a learning atmosphere that encourages student leadership and mentoring.

House Advisors

At Amity International School Amsterdam, each house has two lead House Advisors who are responsible for helping forge positive relationships for learning.

Neville Kirton, Head of Senior School at Amity Amsterdam says: “Our model for supporting students to become more autonomous and confident learners draws directly on the empowering ideas of Peter Barnard, author of Vertical Tutoring, who describes the role of house advisor as a guide, facilitator, mentor and advocate for their students.”

Older students can offer support and guidance to younger children, and younger members of the house feel safe knowing older students around school.

Amity International

What are the benefits of Vertical Tutoring?

While it might take schools some time to finalise the shift from horizontal to vertical tutoring, there are many benefits to this personalised learning approach.

First and foremost, it creates an atmosphere of belonging across the whole school where all children feel included and involved. An in-group loyalty emerges as students from different school years get to know each other and grow in confidence. As a result, students become less afraid of speaking out and feeling heard.

Secondly, peer mentoring and learning from each other happens naturally since older students engage with younger students, turning into positive role models for the younger house members. It gives older students the opportunity to develop leadership skills by mentoring the younger students in smaller groups.

Vertical Tutoring also allows teachers to get to know every student well and allows them to recognise each student’s strengths and weaknesses and to properly support their development. Promoting greater parent-home partnership is also one of the advantages, since parents have a designated contact person in school who listens to their questions and concerns.

“I feel that the students made some amazing links between different age groups that they wouldn’t have before. And we have already seen the older students develop their leadership skills that come alongside mentoring the younger students,” says Miss Grace, Maths Teacher at Amity International School Amsterdam.

Older students have the opportunity to develop leadership skills by mentoring the younger students

Vertical Tutoring at Amity International School Amsterdam

At Amity International School Amsterdam, there are four houses: Phoenix, Griffin, Dragon and Yeti. Each house consists of students of mixed age groups who meet every day for around 20 minutes after their morning break, at a time when they are most alert and focused.

In addition to the focus on building relationships, the aim of these Vertical Tutoring sessions is to set and monitor students’ goals by documenting progress in their student handbook, to promote service as action and for students to mentor each other based upon their respective strengths and skills. To further boost the students’ sense of belonging, the house advisors encourage friendly competition between the four houses.

An essential element of the Vertical Tutoring at Amity Amsterdam is the student-parent-house conference, which is organised early in the school year. These conferences, led by the students themselves, enable parents and teachers to discuss both personal and academic goal-setting, with reference to recent assessment data to ensure students are maximising their academic growth.

“A highlight of virtual tutoring so far has been the development of friendships and the sense of belonging. Over the past two months, we have seen the natural boundaries between different age groups have eroded. This has resulted in the students feeling safe and confident around the school, which positively impacts student voice and agency,” says Mr Craig, English Language and Literature Teacher at Amity International School Amsterdam.

Get in touch with Amity Amsterdam

If you’d like to chat more about Vertical Tutoring and see if the system at Amity Amsterdam might be the right choice for your child, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Amity International



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