STUDENTS at Basingstoke's biggest secondary school have given the thumbs-up to a controversial new tutor group system.
Brighton Hill Community College, in Brighton Way, hit the headlines in May when proposals to introduce vertical tutoring - a system that puts students from different years into the same tutorial group for 40 minutes each day - sparked a mass protest by pupils.
After the incident, which saw more than 150 pupils gather on the school field, three students were excluded and up to 80 others faced detention.
But now, just three months into the new regime, students at Brighton Hill say vertical tutoring is not as bad as they thought it would be - and some even prefer it to the old system where pupils were in tutor groups with other students in the same year.
The Gazette went along to speak to some of the students with the permission of headteacher David Eyre but without staff being present while the interviews were conducted.
Lucy Bates, of Year 11, said: "I liked my old tutor group and I thought it was a bit pointless to change but I really like how it is now.
"I never really used to speak to anyone from other years but now we all get on. Everyone thought that it was going to be a major thing but we are only with our tutor groups for 40 minutes each day and that's nothing when we're at school for six hours."
And 11-year-old Amy Day, who started at Brighton Hill in September, agreed. "At first, most of my friends were worried about having to mix with older people but no one has had any problems," she said. "I have made friends with all the other years and they have helped me when I needed help."
But not all the students are happy with the new system. Robert Allen, of Year 9, said: "I think there have been a few issues with the new tutor groups. I would go back to how it was before - I knew people then, and although I still see those people, I do not talk to them as much."
Mr Eyre said he is delighted with the way the students have responded to the new system, which the headteacher introduced in a bid to create a greater sense of community at the school.
"We have trawled the opinions of parents and guardians and the overwhelming majority say they are pleased with how it's working," he said.
"The lunchtime supervisors tell me that lunchtimes are now more calmer and that different age groups are mixing together quite happily.
"I have also been contacted by a number of other schools who have been watching the development of the new tutor system very closely and would now like to meet up with some of our staff to discuss it further."
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