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Meet your boarding school family: Personal tutor

At many UK boarding schools, students are in small tutor groups with a personal tutor – a teacher who monitors each student's academic progress and helps them with any concerns in study or life.

©Maria Johnstone, Bosworth Independent CollegeMaria Johnstone is a personal tutor at Bosworth Independent Collegea co-educational boarding school in Northampton, England, with around 320 students aged 14 to 19. She is also Head of Chemistry and has taught at the school for nearly 20 years.

'In my capacity as Personal Tutor (PT), I guide and help the 12 students in my tutor group. We have weekly chats in our PT lessons and one-to-one meetings every fortnight.

'I closely monitor my students' wellbeing, progress and happiness. We discuss their academic, social, emotional and personal concerns and I support them with any issues that they might have.

'Every term, we choose targets and aim to achieve them. I encourage my students to become independent in their thinking and being, and I regularly check how they are getting on in their boarding facilities and outside the academic timetable.

'Before coming to Bosworth Independent College, I taught Chemistry to university students. Now I teach relatively small groups of around 10 students doing their A-levels. 

'As well as teaching, supporting and inspiring them in their chemistry knowledge, I use my lessons to discuss important life issues and encourage them to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy, achieve and positively contribute to their community.'

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'My leadership position of Head of Chemistry involves working with a department of eight teachers and one technician.

'We make sure that all the students can benefit from very good lessons, practical classes and get as many chances as possible to expand their horizons.

'Our students are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular chemistry activities, such as the Royal Society of Chemistry Olympiad, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge C3L6 and the Bill Bryson science prizes – all very high-profile national competitions.'

Maria Johnstone, Bosworth Independent College
Maria Johnstone with students in a chemistry lesson (©Maria Johnstone, Bosworth Independent College)

'Our college hosts many international students who come from more than 35 countries. Friendships that last a lifetime are forged during their years of study in the UK.

'Our students never fail to impress me – from the highly academic students who excel from the start to the initially weaker students who challenge themselves and do not give up.

'We are not only equipping the next generation with the required academic knowledge to move to their chosen universities, but we are also helping to create the future generation of responsible leaders.'

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