Latest Book: being values-led


This book complements "The Systems Thinking School" and provides the basic philosophical, psychological and managerial explanations as to why linear learning systems (grade and year systems) inhibit potential. It explains how vertical tutoring counters industrial thinking allowing schools to personalise what they do and  change the way they manage and self-organise. It also provides a guide to implementation and cultural change.

So What is Vertical Tutoring?

Vertical Tutoring is not just a change to the school's pastoral system as many schools assume. In fact it combines pastoral care and curriculum. When understood, VT starts a domino affect that improves behaviour, communication, assessment for learning, reports, aspiration, outcomes, and management. It sets in motion a better learning culture built on the premise of mixed-age groups, the central role of the tutor, and parent partnership. It has three main goals:


1)  to improve learning and teaching outcomes

2)  to personalise learning relationships between students, staff and parents (holistic assessment & support for learning)

2)  to impact on learning behaviour and attitude and so raise aspiration.  


Training always begins with the LT and with UNLEARNING. The LT is briefed on systems thinking as the knowledge base for change.  Strangely, training must always begin by analysing the existing same-age structure from a customer perspective. This includes looking at learning relationships between parents, students, teachers and tutors. Understanding how the "year" system and its linear nature restricts flow and limits potential is the key to understanding how to redesign the school  from the inside out and so avoid errors.

If the management team confuses the two systems or tries to blend them, difficulties will increase not diminish.


Vertical Tutoring, once properly understood and implemented should transform the way a school operates. In effect, it should change school management, enhances teaching and learning, and improves outcomes. This, however, requires significant unlearning and significant management training to prevent recourse to orthodoxy.





Hi! I'm Peter Barnard. Welcome to the Vertical Tutoring website.

Available from Amazon and all good book-shops. Also avaible as Kindle.

Former Principal of two outstanding schools and now an author and trainer specialising in systems thinking approaches to school improvement. Intensively trained over 400 schools in UK, Germany, Qatar, Japan, S. Africa and China. Recognised as the lead authority in vertical systems for schools as organisations.




'Hi Peter, I just wanted to say that we couldn't have asked for a better start to the year thanks to VT.   We have followed your guidance to the letter and it really has worked.   Everyone is singing its praises including the students.   Our VT/learning time (just before break) has a fantastic atmosphere throughout Hans Price Academy and punctuality has shot up. Please keep in touch.'

Armando Di-Finizio: Principal 19/09/13


Here are two PREZIs (like P/Ps but flashier!) The first gives a taste of  VT:  INTRODUCTION

The second is about the kind of MISTAKES that schools sometimes make. Just click, load, and scroll...

VT is counter-intuitive at first and challenges much of what we think and assume as school managers and teachers so it can seem PROVOCATIVE until you get it!! Teachers and students usually get it first time. Managers are more challenged because they are invited to rethink old assumptions.

Improving Schools: CHANGING LIVEs

vertical tutoring -iNTRODUCTION