Welcome to our first post in an exciting new series called Tutors of London.
We’re going to be exploring the wonderful world of private tutoring through the eyes and minds of some of the best private tutors London has to offer.
Well, although booming, private tutoring still remains one of the least understood industries in the UK. With such a low barrier to entry, the UK boasts some 1 million tutors of all shapes and sizes. But who are they, what kind of experience do they have and are they really qualified enough to teach our children?
Given that 90% of tutors today are found by word of mouth (amongst friends and at the school gates) and due to the unregulated nature of the market, there’s no “industry standard” for what a typical tutor might be like. Moreover, private tutoring can be a very solitary and lonely experience, with private tutoring sessions tending to happen, well you guessed it, privately! So we never really get insight into the lives of tutors and what impact they are making in the world.
Our team have been spending the past few months interviewing Tutorean’s London private tutors to get a better understanding of who they are and why they do what they do. And we have been fortunate enough to meet some of the most inspiring educators and human beings we could have imagined. Every tutor we met chose a place in London that most reflects their personality – from the endless books and winding staircases of the British Library to the art-stained streets of Portobello Road…
In this first post, we feature David (PhD), a former teacher, lecturer and admissions tutor in the Materials department at one of the world’s leading universities; Imperial College London. David is one of the most knowledgeable, dedicated, compassionate and inspiring tutors and we’re proud to have worked with him since the very beginning.
We hope you enjoy following our journey through London, and in this post learning more about David and the wonderful work he does with the world’s future generation.
“I was born in Glasgow as the eldest of 6 children. There is an expression in England “being sent Coventry” and it’s sort of a joke that means you are being socially ostracised. Funnily enough, my father got a job in Coventry! So we were all sent to Coventry when I was 5. I was there until the age of 18 and then I went to University in Bristol.
I did my degree in Bristol and when I came to London my very first job was teaching in a college in Croydon, so that was my first real tutoring experience. After that I did some teacher training and decided I actually wanted to do more science rather than just teaching it, so I went to get a PhD in Imperial College in the Materials Science department. After graduating I got my first lecturing job in the Physics department at Warwick University and after some time there was a job advertised back at Imperial College, so I left this job and ended up staying in Imperial for 26 years.
When my kids started growing up, I decided for a little adventure and I applied to teach in a University in Dallas. I spent a couple of years there, but then I was missing my friends and family, so I came back and started tutoring – it was kind of like completing a circle in a way, because that’s the very first thing that I did. I soon came back to teaching A Level and in the meantime I’ve done a lot of things in university including being an admissions tutor for 8 years, which meant I decided who gets into university and who doesn’t. It’s now very beneficial when tutoring kids that are applying since I was on the other side of the table and I know what sort of questions are being asked and what answers are expected. More recently, I helped my son and daughter gain a place at Oxford and Durham Universities (for PPE and A&A respectively).”
“I think I am someone who really cares about other people. I am quite nurturing and I like helping people. I enjoy looking after people so tutoring really fulfils me, because it’s all about helping people reach their potential. There is this kid that I was teaching quite recently and his teacher told him that he was ‘rubbish’. That is something that can stay with him forever and really lower his chances in life. I worked hard to help him restore his confidence and start believing in himself again and now his grades are amazing and he is really engaging in conversation and actually interested in physics. It’s almost like a weakness that I need to feel needed in a sense that I need to be helping people, so tutoring really is the best job for me. I guess that’s just who I am and sometimes I get criticised by my family that I am worrying too much and I need to be a bit harder with people.”
“There is this kid that I was teaching quite recently and his teacher told him that he was “rubbish”. That is something that can stay with him forever and really lower his chances in life. I worked hard to help him restore his confidence and start believing in himself again.”David, Private Physics and Maths Tutor
“In my teaching experience, every year that went by I spoke less and less during the lessons and the student would speak more and more. My idea of a great lesson is when the students are totally engaged. It’s not about showing how bright I am and how much knowledge about the subject I have to share, because that is irrelevant. It’s getting to the point where the student is leading the conversation.
Since I’ve started teaching I have won two teaching prizes at Imperial College (Rector’s awards for excellence in teaching) and I have just been awarded a prize as being the best new tutor at another tutoring company in 2019, so that was very rewarding.”
“I’ve tutored in so many exotic and interesting places. Once I was teaching in Punjab in India for a few weeks, then in Dallas for a few years, and I also taught in a university in Singapore and in Sydney. But in terms of right now in London, it’s almost always in the student’s home or online using Skype, so I guess the nicest time I have is when I get offered a cake (laughs).
My big passion is travelling, so all my favourite books are travel books. Next week I’m going to Turkey to the capital, Ankara, and I am going to explore all the Museums and Architecture.”
“The reason I chose Golders Hill Park for our interview is because it’s a very tranquil place and it has hundreds of different spots where people can sit and just be quiet. It also reflects different stages of our family life so when we were just a couple we used to come here to sit and talk. There are also a large number of animals so when we had our children they of course loved to come here and play around and watch the animals. So now whenever I have an hour I like to come here and reflect. I am in a different stage in my career. The children left home but we can always come here and go for a walk. It is very calm and very civilised. I enjoy this stage of my career where I feel like I don’t have to prove anything anymore, I can choose when I work and in the meantime I can travel, go to the gym or enjoy the stillness of this park. It’s either this park or Regents park, where I would be talking about the open air theatre and Queen Mary’s Rose Garden and the boats. It’s a great place just to ‘be’.
I love travelling, but interestingly enough I have recently started exercising a lot and taking up boxing classes. It blew me away. It’s such an amazing exercise. People sometimes say that I am quite difficult to understand, because I like football, but then I also love the opera and they can’t quite work out my personality (laughs).”
Thank you for reading our first Tutors of London story. We hope you enjoyed it.
If you’re interested in getting in touch with David, you can find his profile here and contact him for free on the Tutorean platform.
David specialises in maths and physics at A level and university level. He also tutors maths, additional sciences and at other levels including GCSE. David is also proficient in helping students apply to university (UCAS) and has recently helped his son and daughter gain places at Oxford (PPE) and Durham (A&A).