Maths and English Lessons in Alston

A semi-retired scientist, with main skills in physical geography and mathematics, but also covering many aspects of the environmental sciences. I have used computers widely in all aspects of my work, but most specifically in the modelling and understanding of natural systems e.g. rivers, landscapes, forests etc. and have strong mathematical and programming skills; I am also skilled in statistics and various statistical methods. A particular feature of my professional work has been how best to use visual representations of information - graphs, plots, diagrams, 'bubble' maps, animations, colours, symbols, shapes etc. - to improve understanding. This can be particularly appealing to learners, of any age, as it combines artistic-creative skills with the rational, scientific subject matter. I also have skills and knowledge from a previous career in business and finance e.g. can teach bookkeeping, accounts, cashflows, discounted calculations, prepare balance sheets and forecasts, investment returns, tax calculations and so on.

Tutoring Experience

I have experience mainly of assisting with the tutoring and supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students, whether individually, in study groups, in the classroom or in the field. I have also worked closely with adult groups wanting to understand environmental problems, and helped introduce them to the science relevant to these problems. Much of this work has therefore entailed making potentially quite complicated topics understandable, but in a way which resonates with each person's own experience and therefore makes the knowledge easier to remember and apply. More informally, I have spoken at public and other meetings, including to schools groups and children from about 5 yrs old and upwards, communicating many aspects of science as well as ideas related to my areas of specialisation. I have also appeared in the media, including writing articles for newspapers and magazines, and discussing science on the radio and television..

Tutoring Approach

I see my role as helping the student - whatever their age or ability - to understand and feel ownership of the knowledge that interests them or which they wish to acquire. This often means looking at a particular problem that is causing them difficulty, rather than trying to cover an entire syllabus for a subject. Thus, a student might have hit a stumbling block, and have trouble getting to grips with algebra, or geometry, or the water cycle, or how to get Excel to draw graphs, or how to start from a sheet of paper and draw a rough map which can be printed, or how to process and edit images, and so on and so on. I like to start by understanding something of the personality of each student, and in particular what resonates with them; for example, do they respond best to visual ideas, or to things explained by the spoken word, or in ideas put down in writing, or through some sort of model or conception, or through handing objects and playing with them physically, etc. With these personal attributes in mind, I then try to link the knowledge or subject material to memories or experiences of the student's, so that the learning can be felt, and at a deeper level. This greatly aids not only retention and memory but also gives the learner a sense of power and ownership of the knowledge, so that it exists within them and not just in a textbook, and they can apply the knowledge for themselves. This in turn is often very rewarding and stimulating for the student and of itself generates the energy and curiosity to take things further. Indeed, I have often been both pleased and surprised by how far students go to pursue further knowledge for themselves, once a core problem has been overcome or topic has been acquired and mastered.

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


Southampton2007DoctoratePhd (geomorphology and modelling)
Edinburgh1998MastersMRes (natural Environment)
Plymouth1995BachelorsBSc(Hons) Rural Resource Management
Banking and business1984ProfessionalDipoma
Rating from 4 references