Guidance for Personal Tutors
Advice and guidance for academic staff who are personal tutors.
Role of a personal tutor
As a personal tutor your role is to act as a personalised point of contact, supporting the academic and personal development of your students as outlined in QA33. The aim is to build a relationship with tutees that can provide guidance regarding academic progression, pastoral care, signposting to support services, and references. Sometimes life can impact on our students’ capacity to study, pastoral care means providing information, guidance and support, not counselling.
The Senior Tutor in each Department provides support to personal tutors including guidance on scheduling and operation of tutorial sessions and evaluation of the departmental personal tutorial system.
Meeting with students
When you meet with a student you should:
- invite the student to discuss any issues of concern
- discuss progress towards their objectives
- notice changes in performance, behaviour or appearance
- listen to what they tell you and reflect back what you understand
- acknowledge the feelings behind what they have told you
- take time to consider the student's needs and any risks
- signpost to services that may be able to address their needs
- confirm the agreed actions in an email to the student
- record this on SAMIS Student Notes
- follow-up to check their needs have been met
- contact 4321 if you are worried
Take a look at our factsheet for helpful hints for supporting students.
If a student does not want to attend a meeting, record this on their notes. If the student fails to respond at all after two reminders, send them an email noting this and suggest they contact you in the future if their needs change. Again, make sure you document this on SAMIS Student Notes. If you have concerns, discuss with your Director of Studies and follow guidance on attendance.
Recording your meetings
Record brief notes on your meetings with students using SAMIS Student Notes. This will:
- ensure coordination of pastoral care
- reduce risks to the student and the institution
- provide a record of our services to students to use in investigating complaints etc
- help you remember key issues when you next see them
It is good practice and less work to document the meeting in the form of an email to the student and this can then be pasted into the Student Notes system. This approach is very transparent to the student and reinforces any actions that you have agreed, avoiding any misunderstandings later.
See our factsheet for tips on what to record from meetings.
If a student refuses help
Sometimes you may be aware of a student’s concerns but the student refuses to discuss them or refuses to accept any help to resolve them. Check whether the student is already seeing Student Services or a GP. If so, encourage the student to get in touch with them. The student may prefer to seek independent advice or support from the Students’ Union. If the student refuses to seek help despite your encouragement we are not able to force them to seek help unless it is an emergency. In this case contact Security on 666 and document this on SAMIS Student Notes.
Be clear about the extent of support and level of confidentiality you can offer. If you think there is a risk to the student or to others you must contact Student Services for advice. It is not uncommon for personal tutors to be contacted by parents or friends who are worried about a student. While it is useful to listen to and acknowledge their concerns, personal information must not be disclosed to third parties without the consent of the student. See Guidance on Student Confidentiality.
Student Services have further advice and guidance for staff available on our web pages.