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John

John

I am a former student of Merton College, Oxford, where I studied English for BA (First class) and MSt (Distinction), and of Hertford College, Oxford, where I took the BCL postgraduate degree in Law (Distinction). My secondary school was Watford Grammar School for Boys.

I also have the Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction), the equivalent of an undergraduate degree, from City Law School, University of London. I’m very happy to advise about breaking into the legal profession.

I have been teaching, independently and while attached to my old university, since 2013. Unlike many tutors, this is my full-time job (alongside various academic and legal projects), and I wouldn't want any other. It means a lot to me to be able to make whatever impact I can on the intellectual lives and careers of young people - and the best and perhaps the only way, I think, to do that is through proper conversations, individual-to-individual.

I have countless hours of experience by now over eight years in practice.

I understand that finding a reliable tutor can be difficult. There are many to choose from on this site alone. I hope that the feedback you see below, which represents only a small sample of my former students (I work through other agencies and institutions/schools/universities), will be reassuring to any reader of my profile.

I'm based in Herts, where I’ve lived since I was a kid. Nowadays I spend a few days out of the week practising in London, and in Oxford where my academic life is based.

I want to make high-quality personal tuition affordable for as many people as possible. In particular, please talk to me about online tuition. Online tuition carries a significant discount in rates.

I've thought carefully about how to make online tuition as natural and fluent as possible. I'm very confident now that video tutorials go for most purposes just as well as the real thing. I strongly recommend that everyone with access to a stable internet connection takes this option seriously. They work!

For GCSE English, I have developed a structured course of study which has produced consistent results for students for several years now at a fraction of the cost of regular tuition in person. Please ask me about this. I will normally present this as an option to all GCSE English enquirers in their final year.

Please get in touch with inquiries about sessions for the subjects listed on this page, for essay writing and exam skills, or for preparation and advice for secondary school, university and Oxbridge admissions. I've been through it all...

The subjects I took for A-level (2009) were English Literature (A), Maths (A), History (A), and French (A).

And for GCSE (2007): 11 at A* inc. French, German, Geography, History and Religious Studies.

I am certified fluent in French (DALF C1). I also have Latin.

Tutoring Experience

My specialism: helping students at all levels with structured writing.

This is a unique and important skill - knowing how to shape an essay is just as important as knowing what to put in it. It is also a skill which I think schools and universities often neglect.

There is a dangerous myth that it can’t be taught, that you can either write well, or you can’t.

My view is that good essays can be reduced to a few simple techniques for setting out ideas clearly and in appropriate language.

Many (though not all) students who contact me feel confident with content they need to grasp, but, having received inconsistent or confusing advice from teachers and tutors, struggle with exam technique and written expression.

I aim to prove that academic writing is best kept simple. The difficult things often fall surprisingly quickly and painlessly into place once the basics - basic research, essay planning, and critical thinking skills, plus basic grammar and expression - are mastered.

I have extensive experience helping students with coursework projects and tutorial essays, proposals, literature reviews, academic presentations and dissertations in a number of disciplines.

Amongst others, in recent years I have supported students studying for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in: English, Law, Film Studies, History, Art History, Architecture, Modern European Languages, Marketing, Economics, and International Relations.

I am interested in Education issues and policy, and spend a lot of time keeping ahead of the syllabuses/developments in the shifting world of exams policy. This helps me to ensure that I know how to guide students on the specifics of their exams, but it also means, I think, that I can make some sensible advice about university choices, subject choices and career matters - all of which I love to talk about.

Very commonly students approach me for these subjects (as well as others):

English/English Literature (AQA/OCR/Edexcel/WJEC/CIE, UG). I've taught a very wide range of literatures in English at GCSE, A Level, and at University level at universities including Oxford and UCL.

History (AQA/OCR/Edexcel, UG). I've taught across periods and exam boards, particularly for Edexcel, including: 'Conquest, control and resistance in the medieval world'; 'Religion and state in early modern Europe'; 'Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry VII 1399-1509'; 'Rebellion and disorder under the Tudors 1485-1603'; 'Revolutions in early modern and modern Europe'; 'Communist states in the 20th century'; 'Ireland and the Union c.1774-1923'; 'Democracies in change: Britain in the USA in the 20th century' etc.

Latin/Classics (OCR/CIE). My masters dissertation focussed on translations of classical literature (Lucretius) in the early modern period. I have taught the Latin language, and literatures at A Level including: Cicero, Philippics II; Virgil, Aeneid; Catullus, Poems; Horace, Satires; Tacitus, Annals and Histories; Ovid, Poems; Livy, Ab Urbe Condita; Pliny, Epistulas etc.

Law (UG, GDL). I have tutored students taking the GDL since taking the course myself in 2015-16. I’m equally comfortable with all of the ‘seven key areas of law’ (Contract, Tort, Public, EU, Equity, Land and Criminal), and have assisted undergraduates in the past with more specialist research projects (for example in the fields of IP, Legal History, Remedies etc.)

Philosophy/Religious Studies (AQA, OCR, Edexcel etc.). I’m happy to teach just about anything on any of the major syllabuses.

Tutoring Approach

Being in a one-on-one tutorial is very different to being at school. I have no doubt that it is by far the best way for anyone to improve their understanding of a topic. People are social animals - we’re engaged by conversation, and we’re much better at memorising what we discuss than what we read (particularly in dense academic writing).

But for modern exam syllabuses it’s rarely enough to just repeat rote-learned information. Tutorials are valuable because they focus in on individual students as developing thinkers with individual attitudes and ideas. They are set up to allow students to identify their strengths and weaknesses, focus on areas of improvement and develop their skills (communication and expression, interpreting text, building essays).

A well-managed tutorial gives the student space and time to think critically on the spot, and to voice and develop a personal response. Unfortunately, modern schools and universities are, generally speaking, not set up so as to be able to give students the individual contact time needed to bring students along as confident, independent thinkers and speakers. It is my experience that for many academics research takes priority over teaching ‘obligations’.

The easy part of my job is explaining ‘the material’ or ‘the facts’. I’ve taken all of the exams before (by now, you might say, many times over).

Passing exams and getting the grades - these are important things. Often they’re priority number one, and the reason why I’m called in to help. But examiners love confidence. If students are confident in their power over the material, the examiner will be confident in their power. This is as true for GCSE students as it is for undergraduates. So I put confidence- and skills-building at the centre of my approach.

That is the challenging part of my job. I think that the extent to which a teacher can encourage self-assurance and intellectual independence in students… that is the difference between an experienced and committed tutor, and the many, many tutors who drift in and out of the job.

To build this confidence, I try in tutorials to create a relaxed and informal environment. The best tutorials feel a lot like natural conversations, so I ask students to respond naturally and feel assured in their instincts (which are usually right anyway).

This approach does just as much for students who are aiming at perfect marks as for those who are aiming at pass marks. I've taught both kinds of student, and everyone in between, frequently.

Tuition is a serious financial commitment. I can make the most impact when I'm brought in well in advance of deadlines, and seen regularly. Even if you're not sure that I'll be needed for weekly sessions (for example), please don't hesitate to make contact with me early in the game.

I've thought carefully about the right level for my fees. I've tried to pitch them at a fair level which reflects my experience, track record and necessary preparation time, but remains affordable for as many people as possible. I would also however stress that:

  1. An introductory session is free of charge for those who require a tutor on an ongoing basis. I do this so that everyone can meet in a relaxed environment, but also an encouragement to students (and parents) to take the time up front to talk through everyone's hopes for tuition, and establish the best way of integrating our work together with school/university work.

  2. There is no additional charge for reasonable preparation, marking and travel time. No two students can be given the same tutorials. They are tailored not only to the syllabus the student is following, but also to their strengths and weaknesses. This requires a lot of "off-the-clock" preparation and planning which, in the interest of transparency, I don't believe should be charged for. This sets my approach apart.

  3. My time also means my resources. Because I have taught for a number of years now, I have built up a trove of resources eg. practice exam papers, study notes, comprehension exercises, reading lists, academic journals, electronic language learning resources etc. I have written many of these myself. Chances are I have something on file that can help: just ask.

There are alternatives to regular face-to-face tuition. Please mention in your contact with me on this site if any of the following might be preferred:

  1. Online tuition. Voice or video calls work as well as face-to-face tuition for most people. This option helps me with my availability, and saves me travel time and cost. I’m happy to reduce my fees to reflect those savings.

  2. Essay feedback (email). Some students, who feel broadly happy with the material, but look for help with writing and exam technique or coursework, find it most useful to exchange work by email, and receive detailed comments and recommendations. This can be a very effective time-saver.

Please also ask about referrals. I run a generous referral fee-reduction scheme. Please ask me for details if you feel you might know anyone who also requires tuition.

LanguagesEnglish (British), French, Italian, Latin
AvailabilityWeekends, Weekdays (all times)
References Available On File

Qualifications

University of Oxford, Merton College2013MastersMSt English
University of Oxford, Merton College2012BachelorsBA English Language and Literature
City University London2016ProfessionalGraduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
University of Oxford, Hertford College2021MastersBachelor of Civil Law (BCL)

John's Feedback

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John
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Subjects taught
First lesson is free!
EnglishIn-personOnline
GCSE£80£60
A-Level£100£75
University£100£75
Casual Learner£100£75
LatinIn-personOnline
GCSE£80£60
A-Level£100£75
University£100£75
Casual Learner£100£75
HistoryIn-personOnline
GCSE£80£60
A-Level£100£75
University£100£75
Casual Learner£100£75
Government and PoliticsIn-personOnline
A-Level£100£75
University£100£75
Casual Learner£100£75
LawIn-personOnline
A-Level£100£75
University£100£75
Casual Learner£100£75
Philosophy / Critical ThinkingIn-personOnline
A-Level£100£75
University£100£75
Casual Learner£100£75
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