I have recently taken early retirement from the position of Head of Science in a large, Cambridge comprehensive (11 -18) school, but am keen to continue to contribute to the Science education of young people. My own background is a city Grammar School followed by a degree in Applied Biology at the University of Hertfordshire. This included a year working for a large pharmaceutical company from where I co-authored a paper in the British Journal of Pharmacology. I decided, however, that my vocation was in teaching and after working briefly as a general teaching assistant I was accepted into Cambridge University Department of Education where I obtained my PGCE for Secondary Science. Although I started teaching Biology as my main subject I was drawn more towards Chemistry and over a few years completed an Open University degree in Chemistry. I gradually moved across to teaching Chemistry full time, becoming Head of Chemistry in a Buckinghamshire secondary (11 -18) school. My family then moved to Cambridgeshire where I taught Chemistry in a Cambridge Sixth Form College for 10 years before deciding that I wanted to be more involved in a wider range of students and courses. I was appointed as a Science/Chemistry teacher in a local secondary school, becoming Head of Chemistry and then Head of Science. I have taken early retirement at a time when much is changing in Science education in schools and think it is time to move over and let my younger colleagues take on the changing leadership challenges.
Over the years I have taught in a wide range of schools and colleges both rural and urban, and a wide range of courses up to GCSE and A level. My main teaching subject at A level is Chemistry. At GCSE and KS3 I have been teaching all Science subjects including Physics. While teaching I have always made myself available to students who want to go over classwork, need help with homework or want to do more exam practice with immediate feedback. This has been both with individual students and small groups working after school - or at breaks for the 'Have you got a minute, Miss?' questions.
I am familiar with the areas of GCSE Science that many students find difficult and who often hold persistent misconceptions. My approach is initially to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and the learning style with which they are most comfortable. Many students are initially reluctant to commit themselves to a definitive answer to a directed question so realising that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes is often a significant step towards developing real understanding. Exam technique, interpreting questions etc is also important and the longer answer questions that have been added to Science papers in recent years can be a barrier to success, so work on this aspect can also be as productive as basic revision and problem solving..
There is a much larger difference between GCSE and A level study than many students anticipate and they often lose the pace in the early stages of the course which can be difficult to recover without intervention from the school or a tutor. There is much more pressure on students at the moment as Schools and Colleges are insisting on students achieving higher grades at AS in order to progress to A2. In Chemistry, the ability to visualise and mentally manipulate structures that are only 'models' of the real thing is a challenge to many students as are the calculations required throughout the course. There are a number of key principles that can be applied to problems in organic chemistry and depending on the structure of the course, students do not always get the opportunity to complete enough exam questions to recognise the patterns. As a tutor I have the opportunity to provide this extra practice and build up the confidence of students in their own ability to complete exams successfully. The great advantage of tutoring is the ability to give immediate, individual feedback to students and for them to feel they have made progress.
|Availability||Weekends, Weekdays (all times)|
|References Available||On File|
|University of Hertfordshire||1978||Bachelors||BSc(Hons) 2i Applied Biology|
|University of Cambridge||1979||PGCE||Secondary Science|
|Open University||1994||Bachelors||BA(Hons) 2i Chemistry|
|Royal Society of Chemistry||2006||Professional||Member|
|Unpublished feedback (Usually negative)||0|