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Personal Tutor's toolkit

 

As part of providing a quality experience for all Aston students, Personal Tutors will play a crucial role in ensuring students get the help, support and guidance they need to succeed.

This toolkit is designed to help you get the correct information you need in order for you to succeed in your role. It will provide you with the following:

Aston has developed a detailed policy on what a personal tutor is expected to do in their role (click here to see the policy). It is advised that you familiarise yourself with this document, but a summary of the personal tutoring role is provided below. In additon to this policy you may find it useful to read the new Student Charter, which describes Aston's commitment to students' education and overall experience.

Summary of the Personal Tutor role

Personal Tutors are vital for helping students feel part of the Aston community. They are a specific and consistent source of guidance, information and support for the student throughout their studies. They should be a student's first formal point of contact for general academic guidance and pastoral support. A personal tutor should listen to students' issues or concerns sensitively and responsively and be able to signpost students to other sources of support within the School, University or Aston Students' Union where required.

A personal tutor is not expected to be an expert in all matters, but should endeavour to help students get the answers, help, advice and guidance they need for a successful student experience.

Topics and issues that you will discuss with your tutees will ultimately depend on the requirements of individual students, but there are some key areas that you could discuss with your tutee, depending on their year of study. Click one of the links below to view a list of recommended topics of discussion:

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List of key contacts and support services for signposting students

Below is a list of key support services, what they can do to help and how students can contact them.


The Hub Advice Zone

The Hub provides advice about student visas and other student related issues such as council tax, student funding, scholarships and bursaries, placement funding, changing academic course and support for students from a care background. It also provides a reception area for the University Counselling Service, the Disability Team and Registry.

Location: Ground floor, Main Building G26
Contact details: ex 4007, thehub@aston.ac.uk 
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/hub/ 

 
University Counselling Service

The Counselling Service provides counselling for students and staff, runs a range of workshops and on-line chat sessions (e.g. Managing Student Stress, Dealing with Loss), and offers a consultation service to staff who may have concerns regarding a student’s wellbeing. The service operates an appointment system but will always endeavour to see urgent cases as soon  as possible. 

Contact details: ex 4007, counselling@aston.ac.uk
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/counselling 


The Disability Team 

The Disability Team provides a confidential advice and support service for students who experience a range of disabilities, medical conditions and additional needs. This support includes advice on finding funding for disability related support, and arranging diagnostic assessments for dyslexia and other specific learning differences.

Location: Ground floor, Main Building
Contact details: ex 5015, disabilityteam@aston.ac.uk
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/hub/danu3/ 


The ARC (Advice & Representation Centre)

The ARC is Aston Students' Union independent representation service. It provides advice and support with academic appeals, exam board jeopardy hearings, financial information, and disciplinary matters.

Location: First floor, Student Union
Contact details: ex 4848, arc@aston.ac.uk 
Website Link: www.astonguild.org.uk/advice


Health Centre

The main clinic is based in Boots in the city centre (67-69, High St B4 7TA). A smaller clinic can be found on Campus, and from October 2012, this will be based in the Vision Sciences building.

Location: Based in Vision Sciences building
Contact details: Tel: 0345 245 0780, halyconmedical@nhs.net 
Website Link: www.halcyonmedical.co.uk/


Finance Centre

Students are able to discuss matters concerning the payment of their fees at the centre.

Location: Next to the Hub
Contact details: ex. 4355, creditcontrol@aston.ac.uk 
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/finances/ 


Accommodation Office

The office deals with all University campus accommodation.

Location: Ground floor of Stafford Tower
Contact details: ex. 4704 & 4707, accom@aston.ac.uk 
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/accommodation/ 


Learning Development Centre

The Centre provides a range of academic support including writing and study skills tutorials and a maths centre. The Centre also offers a wide range of self- study materials which can be accessed from the web site.

Location: First floor of the Library
Contact details: ex 3040, ldc@aston.ac.uk 
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/academic-support/ldc/ 


Aston Multi Faith Chaplaincy

The University chaplains serve all students and staff of the University, no matter what religion you follow and irrespective of whether you have religious faith or not. All are welcome to visit the chaplaincy, and meet with one of the team.

Location: Martin Luther King Centre
Contact details: ex 4276, chaplaincy@aston.ac.uk
Website Link: www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/health-wellbeing/chaplaincy/


Peer Mentoring scheme

Aston University's Peer Mentoring scheme brings together students from different year groups to form one-to-one mentoring relationships. For mentees, the scheme provides a great source of support from someone who is a few steps ahead in their university career. For mentors, not only are you providing invaluable assistance to another Aston student, you're developing transferable skills, meeting new people and gaining some great experience for your CV.

Location: MB369A
Contact details: ex 5230, peermentoring@aston.ac.uk
Website Link: http://www1.aston.ac.uk/current-students/get-involved/mentoring-at-aston-university/peer-mentoring/

Mature Students Welcome Induction

Every year we hold a Mature Students Welcome Induction. The induction, organised and hosted by the Learner Enhancement Team, is an opportunity to visit the university before term starts, resolve any worries, develop your study skills and help you to make the most of your time with us. Even if you miss the induction, get in touch to see how we can help you.

Location: MB369A
Contact details: b.k.gill@aston.ac.uk
Website Link: http://www1.aston.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/mature-students/news-and-events/

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Training, support and guidance for Personal Tutors 


If you feel that you would like to improve your skills as a personal tutor, then there is a course available for staff that can help. The 90 minute session will address the core aspects of providing pastoral support to students. These aspects include clarifying the role of the tutor in providing pastoral support, recognising problems, being aware of the central support services and referring students to them, limits of confidentiality and identifying urgent situations. The session will also provide an opportunity for delegates to raise questions about their role, and to share experiences with one another.

Please click here for further details and information about how to register.

If you are finding your role a personal tutor difficult or upsetting, then consider speaking with your line manager about any issues that you might be finding hard in your personal tutoring role. They may be able to help you. In addition, the University also has key members of staff and advice services that are designed to help you. Click here to view how you can arrange to speak to qualified staff members in confidence, get advice on common issues and learn more about how Aston can support you as a member of staff.

This toolkit also contains answers to frequently asked questions and a list of academic works about personal tutoring that might help you with your role.


Answers to frequently asked questions

Below is a list of questions that you my require answers to. Click on the appropriate question to jump to the answer, or scroll down to view all the questions and answers. If there are any questions and answers that you think could be added, please contact Paul Gorman - p.gorman@aston.ac.uk

How and when will I find out who my tutees are?

This will be made available to you by either your course administrator or your line manager before the beginning of term. Students will be given the name of their personal tutor during Welcome Week (or equivalent induction period) at the latest.

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How many tutees should I be responsible for?

There is no fixed amount and this will vary depending on the size of your School. The personal tutoring policy has recommended that Schools consider workload issues and be mindful of the numbers of tutees allocated to any individual tutor. If you have any issues or concerns speak to your line manager.

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Does my tutee have to be from my subject group?

A personal tutor will normally be from the student's relevant School of study, but could be from any subject group in the School.

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How often should I meet my tutees?

The table below provides a useful breakdown:

 


Full Time

Part Time

Undergraduate Taught

Minimum 3 meetings per year:

One scheduled meeting at the start of each year of the programme.

Two further opportunities for meetings provided throughout each year.

Minimum 2 meetings per year:

One scheduled meeting at the start of each year of the programme.

One further meeting opportunity provided throughout each year.

Postgraduate Taught

Minimum 3 meetings per year:

One scheduled meeting at the start of the programme.

Two further opportunities for meetings provided over the year.

Minimum 2 meetings per year:

One scheduled meeting at the start of each year of the programme.

One further meeting opportunity provided throughout each year.

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Where should we meet?

In your office or meeting room would be the ideal location. If the student requests another location then as long as it is on campus and you deem it to be an appropriate place for a meeting, then use your discretion.

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What should we discuss in our meetings?

The personal tutor should be a student's first formal point of contact for general academic guidance and pastoral support. It is not expected that Personal Tutors are experts on all matters, however, but that they should: inform tutees of their availability and ensure they are available at relevant times; listen to students' issues or concerns sensitively and responsively; provide advice and guidance and be able to signpost students to other sources of support within the School, University or Aston Students' Union where required.

For more guidance on this, please refer to the above section called 'A summary of the personal tutor role'. This may give you some ideas about what you should discuss and questions you may wish to ask them. however, in an ideal situation, the tutee will dictate the topic of discussion.


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Will the tutee be aware of what my role is?

The system for personal tutoring, the role of the personal tutor and the student's responsibilities will be made clear to students in the relevant programme handbook or related material but should also be discussed during the first meeting with you.

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Are group meetings allowed?

Personal Tutors may arrange to meet with tutees individually or in groups but there must be a minimum of one individual meeting each year of the programme and students should be encouraged to contact their personal tutor for individual confidential discussions at other times if necessary.

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Must I keep a record of what we discuss in meetings?

When you see your personal tutee you must use MAP to confirm that you have met, and add further notes if required - (Click here to view a video on how to use this feature on MAP). You can either make the notes on MAP when the tutee is with you or after they have gone. However, you must bear in mind that these records can be viewed by the tutee themselves (if they request it) and staff with administrative access to MAP records. If a student discusses confidential or sensitive matters it is not advised that the full details of the discussion are disclosed on MAP, unless the student gives their permission for you to do so. The MAP tool is there to record when and how many times you have met during the year, and to help you record and remember what was discussed (where appropriate).


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What if my student does not respond to emails or turn up to meetings?

Personal Tutors must try to encourage tutees to attend meetings and make reasonable efforts to contact their tutors, but it is ultimately the student's responsibility to attend meetings and they cannot be forced to attend. Try to encourage the tutee to at least reply and say that they do not need to meet up and allow them to be satisfied with this. If you are concerned that there may be a more serious reason that they are not replying, then report it to your line manager or School office.

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What do I do if I am unable to answer some the questions my tutees ask?

Personal Tutors are not expected to know the answer to all questions or be an expert in all areas. In the section 'A list of key contacts and support services for signposting students' you can find email addresses, contact numbers and websites that may have the information you need, or it may be appropriate to refer your tutees to these support services for more expert advice.

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What if my tutee asks for a different personal tutor?

Students have the right to request a change of personal tutor and, whilst this will not be automatically granted, requests should be considered and not unreasonably declined. In such cases schools/programmes must ensure that a student is reallocated to another personal tutor as quickly as possible and that there is minimum disruption for the student.

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What happens if I feel the issue is too serious for me to deal with?

Click here for advice/guidance on how to respond if you have a serious cause for concern about a student.

Click here to view advice/guidance on responding to a student who may have mental health difficulties.

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What if my tutee is not experiencing any problems?

Personal Tutors are not just there to deal with problems, they are there to help the students get the most out of themselves and their time at university. Helping students develop themselves, their skills, and encouraging students to make the most of the opportunites Aston has to offer them is also an important part of the role.

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What if my tutee does not want a personal tutor?

Students cannot be forced to engage with the personal tutoring system (unless your School deems this essential as part of their studies), but they should certainly be encouraged to do so. If they are adamant that they do not want a personal tutor then this has to be respected, but it is advised that you still contact them at key points during the year to remind them that you are there should they require your help or advice, even if they do not want to take the opportunity to do so.

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Can I receive any training on how to be a good personal tutor if I feel I need it?

Yes. Please click here for further details and information about how to register.

Can I speak to someone if I find my role difficult or upsetting?

Consider speaking with your line manager about any issues that you might be finding hard in your personal tutoring role. They may be able to help you.

The University also has key members of staff and advice services that are designed to help you. Click here to view how you can arrange to speak to qualified staff members in confidence, get advice on common issues and learn more about how Aston can support you as a member of staff.

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What do I do if I feel that my tutee is struggling with their work?

Arrange a meeting with them and try to find out what the cause might be, then offer advice and guidance accordingly. You may need to refer to and utilise the services offered by the University to help resolve certain issues. Please refer to the section called 'A list of key contacts and support services for signposting students' and see if there are any other services that they might benefit from using to improve their situation.

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What about confidentiality? Can I discuss specific issues that tutees might be having with other members of staff?

There are occasions when it would be inappropriate to maintain confidentiality, such as if there are issues which may affect the student's progression or continuation on the programme, which should be discussed with the tutee and brought to the attention of other relevant colleagues. Also, there may be other exceptional circumstances, such as concerns for the student's welfare or the welfare of others which may require you to take action.

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What other support services are available to students?

There is a full list made available in this toolkit - click here to see a list of key contacts and support services for signposting students.

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Do all students have a personal tutor?

Yes, all campus based undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will be allocated a named personal tutor, who will be a member of academic staff from Aston University.

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What about part time students?

Personal tutoring for part time campus based students should adhere to the minimum standards for full time students but it is recognised that there may be a need to adjust the timing and frequency of meetings.

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What about distance learners?

Whilst distance learning programmes may wish to operate a personal tutor system it is recognised that this may not always be practical. In these cases other appropriate student and academic support arrangements must be put in place, approved by the relevant School of Study and reported to Learning and Teaching Committee as part of an annual report on the operation of personal tutoring within the School. Any arrangement for distance learning students must include an essential requirement that students are informed at the outset of the key contact points for support and guidance.

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Is there a personal tutoring policy for Aston?

Yes, you can view the full document here.


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Academic works about personal tutoring

Thomas, L.,  Barfield, S. and Hixenbaugh, P. (2006). Personal Tutoring in Higher Education. Stoke-on-Trent : Trentham - available in Aston Library: 3rd floor, 378.1794 PER, 7 day loan.

Lago, C. (1994). Personal tutoring in action : a handbook for staff involved in working with and supporting students. Sheffield University Counselling Service - available in Aston Library: 2nd floor, 378.1794 LAG, long loan.

Wheeler, S. and Birtle, J. (1993). Handbook for personal tutors. Open University Press - available in Aston Library: 3rd floor, 378.1794 WHE, long loan.

Wilcox, P., Winn, S. & Fyvie‐Gauld, M. (2005). "It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people": the role of social support in the firstyear experience of higher education, Studies in Higher Education, 30:6, 707-722 - pdf available for Aston staff at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03075070500340036

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