Alex has impressed us with his teaching and examination experience, and his clear passion for Biology!
Simply Learning Tuition
Senior School Entrance
MSc Wildlife Biology and Conservation – Edinburgh Napier University (2016 – Present)
Postgraduate Certificate of Education in Biology – University of Oxford (2012 – 2013)
BSc (Hons) Biology (2:1) – University of Durham (2009 – 2012)
A2 Chemistry (A), Biology (B), Geography (B) & AS Physical Education (B) – Shrewsbury School (2007 – 2009)
As a qualified teacher and examiner, I am passionate about tutoring biology. I aim to enthuse students in this fascinating yet challenging subject. Over the years, I have helped many students achieve top marks in their exams, and I work diligently with my tutees to improve their confidence and understanding. I have a natural affinity for biology, and my genuine fascination means that I stay on top of recent scientific events and ensures first-rate subject knowledge.
Having taught A-level and GCSE biology in UK schools for three years, I am very familiar with the latest curriculum requirements and teaching methodologies. I use this experience to deliver engaging and highly beneficial tuition. I consistently received positive feedback from both students and colleagues during my classroom teaching, and a senior OFSTED inspector once graded my lessons as ‘outstanding’. This high quality of teaching was backed up with excellent exam results and, in my final year, both my GCSE and A-level biology classes received the top grades in the college.
After my time in schools, I moved into private tutoring and have now helped many individuals progress along their academic journeys. I have taught both traditional after-school tuition and home schooling programmes, and I am currently working as the lead tutor for three home schooling families. In addition to one-on-one tuition, I also present monthly YouTube live streams and in-person Easter revision workshops at Kings University to around 150 and 500 participants, respectively. I have also worked as an examiner for various GCSE, A-level and IB exam boards, which has allowed me valuable insight into common student exam errors. I teach my tutees strategies to avoid these traps – ensuring top marks through solid exam techniques.
Approach to Tutoring: It is vitally important that students make the most of their time in education, and I believe that every learner can succeed when given the right guidance. I help my tutees channel their natural abilities and progress academically in a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment. I enjoy working with my tutees to address topics they struggle with and identify gaps in their understanding. No single strategy or technique works with all students. In light of this, my teaching style is flexible, and my approach to each lesson is tailored entirely to the learners’ individual requirements. From the start, I work with my tutees to devise a structured plan that will enable them to excel. I relish the opportunity to instruct and guide my tutees on their way to becoming competent and knowledgeable scientists.
Please find below a snapshot of my recent tuition experience.
Biology A-level (OCR) – Siblings
I tutored two siblings through their A2 years. The boy was strong in humanities but had been struggling with biology. While he was probably more naturally gifted in essay-based subjects, he had decided to study a science to keep his options open for university. In our sessions, we worked on improving his mathematical skills and going over some of the more difficult areas of the syllabus to ensure there were no underlying misconceptions. We also spent a lot of time looking at his approach to exam questions, from analysing command words, structuring short yet highly relevant responses, and overall time management in exams. As a result, his monthly school test results improved from a C/B grade up to consistently achieving As throughout the year. He followed this up in the summer by securing three A’s and went on to study PPE at Manchester University. His sister was a very high achieving student, she had already advanced a year in school, and it was clear after a few lessons that she would have no major issues with A-level biology content. In my sessions with her, we focussed more on stretch and challenge and exploring biology beyond the limits of the syllabus. We would look at more abstract scientific ideas and how different areas of biology were interconnected. The aim of this was to improve her chances in an Oxbridge interview by demonstrating a wider appreciation for biological sciences. She wanted to study natural sciences at university, so having a head start on some undergraduate material would also set her up well for her academic journey. She achieved 2A*s and an A and won a place at Clare College, Cambridge.
Biology Transitioning from IB to A-level (AQA)
I helped this student move from IB to A-level biology. The student had completed one term in an IB school but then decided to swap to a school offering A-levels to focus on the subjects he was most passionate about. However, due to the greater detail required for the A-level syllabus, the student was far behind where he needed to be and had missed several important topics. Nevertheless, he made great progress. We beat this catch-up target by several weeks, so we moved our focus to some of the more challenging topics (which tend to separate the A*/A students from the B/C in the exams). I continued to work with him weekly until the end of the year; during this time, his end-of-topic test steadily improved until he consistently got one of the class’s highest grades.
Biology IGCSE + A-level (AQA) – Siblings
I am currently working with two brothers in a home schooling capacity. Both the boys are academically able and highly motivated, so we are making significant progress through the syllabus. The family are based in Switzerland, so all the lessons are done online. Through video calling, combined with shared screens and drawing tablets, we can speak, look at questions and annotate the same page, all in real-time. The shared screen makes it very easy for me to draw attention to important key areas, while the ability for both of us to write on the same page simultaneously is perfect for working through past paper questions. We also use google drive for storing and sharing resources and a multitude of other online resources, such as animations of biological processes, virtual flashcards, statistical and graphing software, shared whiteboards for mind mapping and google docs for essay question practice. Both boys have taken to this distance home schooling set-up exceptionally well, the younger is on track to get a grade 9 in his IGCSE’s this summer, and the older brother got an A grade in his Easter mock exam
Biology GCSE (AQA)
I worked with a GCSE student to improve his science results. He was averaging fours in his school tests, and continuing on this trajectory would have limited his subject choices for A-level. This student was capable (earlier in his school career had been a standout high achiever). However, since starting GCSE, his grades had slipped – he had lost confidence and felt disengaged with school in general. I had weekly lessons with him over year 11. It was evident that his recent academic decline (relative to his peers) was affecting him deeply, and he was choosing to run from the issue rather than taking action. I also looked at some of his recent past exam papers to find any major concerns with his exam technique. One of his issues was that he would be very quick in deciding he didn’t know the answer to a question; however, he would be able to answer it with a little bit of further prompting. We came up with an 8-week plan, with targets for him to be hitting each week and set about improving his grades and confidence in his own abilities. We went through the content concurrently with the material he was studying in school. This chance to reinforce his classroom learning, consolidate key ideas and ask questions soon paid dividends, and his school test results improved. Over Easter, we started to look ahead to the actual exam. We focussed on some of the more challenging areas of the syllabus and fine-tuning exam technique. We looked at how to analyse what the question is actually asking and how to structure answers that ticked all the right boxes for the examiner. He ended up getting a 9 in combined science (which, along with Geography, was his highest GCSE grade) and went on to study STEM subjects at A-level.
Mentoring / Biology A-level Preparation
I am currently working with a student in a home schooling / mentoring capacity. She has a history of mental health issues and unfortunately had to drop out of school after just a few weeks of starting her A-levels. She decided to take a full year out to recover and work through some of the issues, which is when I began working with the family. It was a slightly unusual homeschooling role as we weren’t working towards a particular specification or exam. Instead, the priorities were to boost confidence and self-esteem while instilling a love of learning and filling in some knowledge gaps from GCSE (where she had also missed many lessons). The nature of this tutoring meant that we could incorporate lots of practical work and field trips into the programme. These field trips allowed a real-world application to the scientific theories we are studying, which, in turn, makes the content seem all the more relevant and interesting. They also boost engagement and allow a greater depth of understanding of the topics. In the past year we have:
- studied bird evolution and adaptation at the London wetland centre
- learned about the history of the scientific method at the science museum
- assessed ecosystem health by sampling pond invertebrates at the Holland Park ecology centre
- investigated animal behaviours and their survival benefits at the London Zoo
- explored classification and taxonomy at the natural history museum, which houses over 80 million specimens
- examined the role of Kew gardens and the Millennium seedbank in conservation and future safeguarding of plant biodiversity
- observed the inner workings of human anatomy at the body worlds exhibition
- measured plant biodiversity in different areas of Richmond park using quadrats and transect sampling methods
The student is continuing to make great progress both personally and academically. Her mental health is vastly improved, and we have covered many topics that she will be studying for A-level. Hopefully, this head start will relieve some of the academic pressure, and with her increased self-confidence, I think she has a very good chance of staying in school when she starts again next September.
HOBBIES AND INTERESTS
I love being outside surrounded by nature, particularly in the mountains and by the ocean. I also enjoy many of the sports that are made possible by these striking landscapes, such as skiing, mountain biking, hiking, surfing and diving. So, in 2017, I packed up my belongings into an old land rover defender, installed a tent on the roof, kitchen in the back and set off on a two-year overlanding expedition. The trip spanned 45 countries passing through Europe, Africa and the Americas. Along the way, I was lucky enough to experience many fantastic wildlife events, such as spotting pink river dolphins deep in the flooded Amazon rainforest and viewing the great wildebeest migration from a hot air balloon above the Serengeti. It was also amazing to see first-hand some conservation projects working to protect our natural world and ensure its continued survival. It was an incredible, life-changing journey and one I hope to emulate again at some point in the future.