"Heather has worked with my son for several years. He is an adult learner who, as a result of a brain injury, has Special Education Needs. Heather worked with great patience to develop his cognitive skills. The progress they have made has helped him rekindle his love of literature and aided his increasing independence. I have found Heather to be an excellent communicator and an inspirational tutor."
Mother of an adult English student
2008-2010: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Fda (Professional Acting)
2005-2008: University of Manchester, Ba(Hons) Drama and English with First Class Honours
2002-2004: Hampstead School, A Level English (A), History (A) Theatre Studies (A) Biology (A)
2000-2002: Hampstead School, GCSE English (A*A*) Maths (A) Science(A) History (A*) French (A*) Spanish (A) Drama (A*) Design Technology (A)
My specialist subjects are English and Drama/Theatre Studies. I also teach Mathematics up to 11+, History and Creative Writing. A good tutor adapts to the child. In engaging on a personal level, I hone in on academic strengths and weaknesses, and gauge the student’s learning patterns. I am well organised, personable and able to make the subject come alive; to fly off the page and zoom into the imagination of the child. My lessons help build a child’s self confidence as well as encouraging a strong work ethic.
In my other professional life I am a drama facilitator and director, actress and writer. My knowledge of the theory and practice of drama is wide ranging and my passion unwavering! I have guest lectured on applied theatre at the University Of St Margaret’s and led Shakespeare programmes for English language Summer School students.
I have volunteered widely with disability positive/inclusive theatre companies.
I have also worked as a teaching assistant and 1-1 support for children with a range of educational and behavioural additional needs, including home-schooling a young person with Asperger’s Syndrome, working with a 6 year old with non verbal cerebral palsy, wheelchair users, and children with language impairment and dyslexia.
I have tutored more than 20 students over the past seven years. Please see below for a snapshot of my experience:
Outside of being a teacher, I have worked as a nursery classroom support assistant and a one-to-one support for a Year 1 child, which has helped me acquire an holistic knowledge of early years’ academic, social and emotional education.
I give support for Issac, who is extremely verbally bright but has been diagnosed with mild dyslexia. We have been working through phonics, particularly long vowel sounds spelling ‘groups’, affixes and suffixes to boost Issac’s toolkit when it comes to writing. We’ve also looked at how tenses and plurals affect spelling rules. We have been using handwriting paper to work on Issac’s penmanship.
Year 3 English and Literacy (SEN)
I have supported a student his English, focussing on his dyslexia and issues with working memory.
8+ Preparation (with a view to the 11+)
I worked with Max and Tomas at the beginning of Year 4 to prepare for the 8+, and, long-term, with a view to applying to Kings College School and Kew House School. Using past papers, I was able to assess the boys’ areas of weakness and begin to build up the skills they needed to feel confident when taking the exams. We worked on deepening their vocabulary and word de-coding skills, expanding their understanding and use of more complex grammar, honing their inference skills and translating these into sophisticated, clear sentences. We worked on exam skills such as skimming and scanning, note taking and planning/timings. We also worked on composition. For creative writing (with specific reference to the mark criteria of the 8+) we worked on structure, characterisation, descriptive language, punctuation, suspense and planning. We also worked on persuasive and discursive writing, including how to generate ideas, Literary techniques, structure, sentence starters. Similarly in maths, I used past papers to knuckle down on difficult topics, going methodically through methods of working for each.
I worked for two years with Eleni, from year 4-5, to gently prepare her for her 11+ exams. Eleni liked to work creatively, and we used lots of games to engage in both mathematical and literary concepts. I particularly enjoyed witnessing Eleni’s flourishing love of stories and language, and was happy to observe my passion for language, characters and adventures translate during lessons.
I worked with Louis, 10, to help him prepare for the Eton Entrance exam. We focused on comprehension, and how to use the Point, Evidence and Analysis system to structure and tighten his answers. We also worked on expanding his critical vocabulary so that his answers became more sophisticated and fluid. We targeted matching the sharp insight Louis displayed with the time constraints of an exam; how to read for overall meaning in the first instance, de-code key words quickly in questions and scan and sift the text for relevant information. I was thrilled when Louis commented “I have had tutors before, but they haven’t been as fun as your lessons”. Since, Louis went on to achieve 85% in English – the highest in his class, and is looking forward to applying for Eton.
Max is currently at Fulham Prep, hoping to apply successfully for Kew House School via the 13+ common entrance exam. We have worked to help Max organise his thoughts more carefully, especially in exam situations, rather than rushing and misunderstanding the question. I have encouraged Max to move away from describing what is happening, and immediately look for the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. The aim is to develop his critical thinking so that he reads under the surface of the text, looking for the effect the author is creating.
Home Schooling – Age 13 SEN
I helped to home school a young teenager who had just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. We worked outside of the traditional curriculum, focusing on model making to develop technical and design skills, co-ordination and creativity, as well as facilitating a safe environment in which to practise social interaction.
Home Schooling – Year 6 SEN (all subjects)
Roman has Asperger’s Syndrome and was unhappy in mainstream education, so I home-schooled him for over six months in all subjects, with a particular focus on maths and English. Roman faced many emotional challenges and barriers to learning, so this job challenged and stretched my teaching abilities wonderfully. It required me to work flexibly, creatively and sensitively, adjusting to his needs in any given moment and finding the teaching technique or medium which best supported his learning style. We successfully built up a trusting, communicative relationship. Since he rejoined mainstream education I have returned to teach Roman twice a week after school, and have been thrilled and moved at his increased confidence, competence and interpersonal skills, as well as the steady improvement in his academic scores.
I have worked on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Of Mic and Men, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, and the Hound of the Baskervilles (to name a few) with several different GSCE students over the past five years, all of whom have benefited by increased understanding and brighter grades.
English GCSE (AQA) – Unseen Poetry and Drama
(Two months) Exam technique for responding quickly and thoroughly to unseen poetry. Essay structuring technique. Close textual analysis of ‘A View From The Bridge’. N.B., This student achieved an A* grade.
English GCSE (AQA) – Exam and Coursework Support
Annotating poetry anthology, improving grammar and paragraph construction in essays, close analysis ‘Of Mice and Men’.
AQA GCSE English Literature and Language – Coursework and Exam support
I have worked with a bright, motivated year 11 student to help her shape her coursework essay and prepare for her exam. This involved work on ways of interpreting texts and contexts, detailed language analysis, comparing and contrasting texts, widening understanding of literary techniques, poetry, non-fiction texts, sentence composition, essay composition. We also focused on improving self-confidence.
AQA GCSE English Language/Literature- triplets!
I worked with 3 sisters to prepare for their English Literature and Language GCSE. The latter involved a keen deconstruction of how the rules of grammar affect our reading of texts, and are often used subtly to persuade.
GCSE English Language
I tutored a GCSE student who was re-taking English Language in the hope of achieving his C grade, which happily, he did. We looked at critiquing media sources, writing to persuade and to argue.
I worked with Jack who attends Wellington college, during his final GCSE, helping him to prepare for the ‘Unseen Poetry’ and ‘Drama’ examination papers. We deepened Jack’s understanding of poetic form and structure, as well as his ability to read poems quickly for meaning, by rapidly identifying literary techniques and note-taking. We discussed and made notes on the Arthur Miller set play, constructing essay plans for a variety of possible questions based on character or theme. Happily, Jack reported back that he received an A* in his English GCSE.
I worked with this student for three months, focusing on the practical reflection of Euripides’ Trojan Women. They went on to achieve an A in their exam.
Marnie is in year 10 and I have spent several sessions aiding with her Drama GCSE. We have worked on academic ways to talk about theatre practitioners such as Brecht, and ways to evaluate live performance in an essay. We have also worked on her performance skills, using the physical and literary cues from the given monologue which she went on to perform with greatly increased variety, truth and confidence at school.
IB Theatre Studies and Drama
Over a period of four months I aided with the construct of essays dissecting particular dramatic texts, theories and practitioners such as Boal, Artaud, Absurdism, Realism, Kabuki Theatre, Modern British Theatre. Helping to develop wide-ranging, extended, inter-connected ideas about theatrical practices and periods through deeper academic research, practice, and re-drafting. Practical: Analysing the techniques and effectiveness of a given live performance. The student recently offered a place at Durham University
A-Level English (Edexcel)
I worked with a final year A Level student to help her fully interrogate the difficult set texts, delving deep into discussions of theme and technique. We also worked on fine tuning her essay style – finding the flow from overly long sentences, joining together and grouping ideas and over-arching structure. We also looked at how philosophies such as marxism and feminism can inflect our reading of texts. She went on to gain an A grade and a place at Kings University. Texts included The Kite Runner, Beloved, and A practical discussion of dramatic scenes from Macbeth and Euripides’ Trojan Women.
Victoria was studying A Level English and though extremely diligent, needed help to organise her thoughts and structure her essay plans. We delved deep into the texts: The Kite Runner, Brighton Rock, WWI poetry and the work paid off, as she received an A grade and a place at Kings College University.
SEN Processing difficulties, English and Maths
I worked for three years with Aliya who, as a bilingual student with some processing difficulties, needed a careful and methodological approach to her lessons. Aliya relied on interactive, sometimes kinaesthetic learning to help break down mathematical ideas. She had a great imagination, but needed help in structuring her thoughts both on a microscopic level – in terms of syntax and grammar, and on a wider level for example in her story and essay structures. I would often use games and visual aids to help Aliya build the blocks of literacy and numeracy.
SEN Aspergers, English
Ralph also had a diagnosis of Asperger’s, although like all humans, his learning style was very different from Roman’s. Ralph’s parents wanted me to incorporate social skills into the tutorials, to help Ralph transition into his new part time boarding school, and make friendships based on respect, accommodation and communication. Ralph loved writing stories, and I worked to help him give plots to his fantastical characters.
I have also worked as a substitute teaching assistant/SEN learning support in both primary and secondary schools, working with young people with a variety of learning or physical impairments, including autistic spectrum disorder, dyslexia, wheelchair users, communication impairment and developmental language disorder.
Hobbies and Interests
I love theatre, films, books, art, comedy and yoga! I enjoy occasionally remember to pick up my violin and play.