After completing my Joint Honours Degree at the University of Keele and then gaining a PGCE in the Education department, I began working as a professional tutor almost immediately. Initially I taught Mathematics but within a couple of years I added Music, Philosophy and Electric Guitar to my list of subjects. Since that time I have always combined teaching at a Sixth Form College with up to 20hrs per week of private tutoring. For example, I was Head of Maths for 4 years at Wentworth College before moving to Collingham, an independent sixth form college in Kensington, in 1999, where I taught A level Maths, Music Technology and Philosophy. I now teach a total of five different subjects, mainly at A level. Currently, I am also involved with A level teaching at Chelsea Indepenent College in Fulham.
Adult education – In the past I have often tutored adult professionals in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. Drawing on the wide variety of subjects I can teach, I enjoy customising the tuition to their specific needs. For example, when employed at Cauldon College in Stoke-on-Trent, I created a “Return to Learn” course where I taught both Mathematics and Music to adults who had been out of education for more than 5 years. I also have taught numeracy and analytic skills to a small group of advertising executives who felt a need to improve in this area and, separately, created a tailor-made course on the History and Art of Western Civilisation for 28 year old venture-capitalist on a 2 year quest for self-development.
Anyone considering private tuition, especially for those under the age of 16yrs, should make sure that their chosen tutor has an up-to-date Enhanced Certifcate of Disclosure. These are provided by the DBS (what used to be called the CRB) and are usually authorised in conjunction with a certified institution, such as a local school or college.
At the first meeting with the parent and/or student, I am happy to provide a copy of my Enhanced Certifcate.
In regard to A level subjects like Mathematics and Philosophy, my teaching style relies on the careful presentation of material both verbally and visually. In this sense my approach is quite traditional. This is followed by discussion and then student exercises with feedback on their results. For Music Tech and guitar I usually start with whatever style of music each student is currently listening to, whether it's Queens of the Stone Age or Django Reinhardt, and then try to find a way of deepening their appreciation of what's going on within the music and how they'd recreate it for themselves on the guitar. I have found this approach to be the fastest and most effective method of creating deep understanding, at the same time as providing a platform for communicating my enthusiasm for my subjects. I aim to inspire my students to develop a love for their subjects themselves, as this is usually the best motivator to learning.
Clear communication – I think my main asset as a tutor is the ability to explain complex ideas and concepts in a way that is both simple, understandable and at the same time, accurate. By waiting to introduce key technical terms only after the underlying principle has been explained I find that the learner often grasps it intuitively first. Subsequent definitions and terminology can then be built on top of this foundation of central knowledge. Being self-taught in A level Maths and Philosophy at the age of 19 is the basis of my skill in this area. By learning how to correctly explain something to myself, I found I was then in a position to know how to explain it clearly to others.