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Feeling more at home with the house system

Staff hope school's new structure will give pupils a leading edge, reports Julia Belgutay

Staff hope school's new structure will give pupils a leading edge, reports Julia Belgutay

A new vertical house structure has been introduced at Dunoon Grammar, which places every pupil in a house group which is more like a family than a year group.

While pupils will continue to spend 30 hours a week in lessons organised by year group, they are now also part of a house group, each consisting of about 20 pupils from S1-6.

Every morning, children have 20 minutes of "house time", which they spend on planned activities with their house teacher. There are five houses in all - Argyll, Benmore, Cowal, Hafton and Milton. Each house has nine house groups, which were put together following advice from guidance staff, family groups and school data, to achieve an even spread of gender, ethnicity, abilities and ages across all of them.

House teachers have taken over registration duties. They review and check homework and uniform, and monitor attainment and wider achievement.

During house time, children take part in activities around themes, house events and tasks which encourage peer support, plus tracking and target skills and current affairs. As a member of the house group, they will be involved in daily tasks and in the organisation of activities such as inter-house sports, assemblies and fundraising.

S5 and S6 pupils take on leadership roles, initiating and leading activities for their house, or even the whole school. Dunoon Grammar hopes this will set them apart as entry into further and higher education becomes more competitive.

Teachers believe the new vertical house structure will support learning and raise achievement by creating "a stronger sense of belonging as the pupils look to older - and younger - members of their house group for support and advice", says an introduction leaflet to parents.

"In deciding to develop a house system, Dunoon Grammar School is looking ahead," it goes on. "The future will not be about knowledge alone, but about the ability to be reflective, resilient and adaptable, working in many different roles, and about getting on with and working alongside a range of people of different ages and backgrounds."

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