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James S

'We have been very pleased to have James as our son's 11+ tutor. He quickly struck up a good relationship with A, is very committed, has a thorough understanding of the subject matter, and keeps us as parents closely informed. As a result we have also asked him to tutor our younger son.'

Parent of 11+ ISEB test preparation student

  • 11+

  • 13 +

  • A Level

  • GCSE

  • IGCSE

  • Personal Statement Support

  • Theatre Studies

  • University Applications

Academic History

2012-13: Master of Studies degree in English Literature 1550-1700, University of Oxford (Pass).

2009-2012: First Class BA (Hons), English Literature, University of Warwick.

2009: A Levels: AAAB in English Literature, History, Theatre Studies and Maths at Reigate Grammar School.

2007: GCSEs: 9xA (English Lit, English Lang, History, Drama, French, Latin, Maths, Double Award Science)*, 1xA (DT). Also at Reigate Grammar School.

I also completed the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

About Me

I was a teacher of English teaching Year 9 to Year 13 and a live-in Deputy Housemaster at Radley College, Oxfordshire. Additionally I was the Director of University Entrance, responsible for personally approving 150-200 UCAS applications per cycle, for four years.

My tutoring style in a phrase: gentle rigour. My years in boarding have led me to foster warm connections with my students, creating a relationship where they feel valued. I encourage an open dialogue, emphasising the importance of honest answers over merely ‘right’ ones, promoting genuine understanding. There’s a lot of question and answer, allowing my students to participate actively and clarify their doubts – it’s a challenging yet supportive environment. From time to time I incorporate a few word games, encouraging creativity and critical thinking. Furthermore, I provide efficient university advice, guiding students through the complex process with precision and expertise, ensuring they make informed decisions about their academic future.

Recent tuition

I have tutored students for school entrance tests and/or interview preparation (mostly at 11+ but including some older) including Dulwich College, Alleyn’s, Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Brighton College, Radley College, Oundle, Wellington, Westminster, UCS, Highgate, Harrodian School, Epsom College, Reeds, Kingston Grammar, KCS Wimbledon, Sherborne, Francis Holland and Godolphin School.

As Director of University Entrance at Radley College 2019-23, I personally checked and sent to UCAS around 800 applications and personal statements across the full suite of subjects, all Russell Group universities including Oxford & Cambridge and many beyond that. In terms of subject-specific preparation, I have tutored English interview candidates for Oxford and Cambridge and done ELAT prep.

Here are some examples of my recent students:

11+ and 13+ Entrance Exam Preparation

I tutored a dyslexic boy over four terms for 11+ entrance and 13+ pre-tests at prestigious schools including Harrodian School, Epsom College, Reeds, and Kingston Grammar. Focusing on English comprehension and a wide range of skills, but including all aspects of the ISEB tests, we tailored our approach to accommodate his learning needs. Through dedicated effort, he gained confidence and performed exceptionally well and gained a place at the Harrodian School.

Intensive 13+ Pre-Tests Preparation for Eton College

I provided three days of intensive tuition for a boy from an international school in Rome, preparing him for the 13+ pre-tests at Eton College. Our sessions covered various subjects and exam strategies. Despite the short duration, he made significant progress, gaining a thorough understanding of the required topics and improving his overall performance in the pre-tests.

IGCSE English Language and Literature at St Paul’s School

I tutored R for IGCSE English Language and Literature (both AQA). Despite his inclination towards science, we worked extensively on enhancing his idea-generation, planning, and writing skills. Through focused sessions during one term, he excelled in both papers, earning two 9s in recognition of his improved writing eloquence and speed.

IGCSE English Literature Preparation (Edexcel), Marlborough College

I offered a few days of residential tutoring to a boy at Marlborough College, whilst he was home for an Exeat weekend. Despite previous setbacks due to illness (and stubbornness!), we made substantial progress in his studies. Through dedicated effort, he gained confidence, and his academic performance improved significantly, setting a solid foundation for the upcoming mock GCSEs.

IGCSE History Enrichment, Dulwich College

I tutored a boy intensively towards his IGCSE History exam and coursework (Pearson). Despite his initial lack of interest in the subject, we implemented a rigorous essay improvement program over four terms (as well as exploring some off-piste aspects of the periods he was studying to inject some variety). By focusing on refining his analytical and writing skills, he not only developed a newfound appreciation for history but also achieved (for him) outstanding results in his GCSE History exam – 7 rather than a likely 5.

Intensive GCSE English Language and Literature

Tutoring for a Russian Student I conducted intensive tutoring sessions to help a Russian boy elevate his IGCSE English Language and Literature skills. Despite being an avid reader, he struggled with understanding symbolic and literary meanings as asserted by his teacher. Over a half-term break (from Repton School), I provided targeted guidance, enabling him to grasp complex literary concepts and make significant headway with his revision programme.

A Level Theatre Studies at Epsom College

I provided tailored support for A who was struggling with the written elements of A Level Theatre Studies (WJEC). The student and I delved into detailed analyses of plays, characters, and theatrical techniques over three terms. With targeted guidance, the student demonstrated significant improvement in their written assignments and achieved a high B grade in his A Level Theatre Studies, having been on track for a C or D.

Interview Training for English Literature at Emmanuel College, Cambridge

I provided one-off interview training for S, who secured a place to read English Literature at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. During our sessions, we focused on honing her critical analysis skills, discussing literary themes, and practicing mock interviews. She gained confidence and successfully navigated the rigorous interview and testing process, securing her spot at the institution.

UCAS Personal Statement Support – History

I guided J (currently at school in Spain) through the process of crafting a compelling UCAS personal statement across five 1-hour sessions. I emphasised the importance of showcasing their intellectual curiosity and connecting historical concepts to contemporary issues. By articulating a strong academic foundation, a passion for archival research, and a commitment to understanding the complexities of the past, he secured offers to all five UCAS choices including Oxford, Durham and Edinburgh.

Personal Statement Guidance for UCAS Application – Medicine

I mentored L (Marlborough College) in crafting her UCAS personal statement for medicine. Through detailed discussions and iterative feedback over three sessions, we highlighted her passion for medicine, emphasising work experience, volunteer activities, and academic achievements. She received multiple offers from medical schools, including Oxford and Imperial College London.

Hobbies and Interests

One of my greatest joys is immersing myself in the world of theatre, both as an avid audience member and occasionally an enthusiastic participant. I find immense fulfilment in acting in plays, embracing different roles and characters that allow me to be in a different mode for a while. I also have a long-running podcast on Shakespeare. Equally precious is the time I spend with my family – my wife, 2-year-old son and our faithful labradoodle Earnest.

Testimonials

“We have been very pleased to have James as our son’s 11+ tutor. He quickly struck up a good relationship with A, is very committed, has a thorough understanding of the subject matter, and keeps us as parents closely informed. As a result we have also asked him to tutor our younger son.”

11+ ISEB test preparation for several South East London day schools

“James has made a big difference to A’s approach to learning, especially on the maths side. We have had several useful discussions to make sure A is going to be well-prepared on all the right material and have appreciated James’ expertise and judgement on that. We feel confident in James and A enjoys the sessions hugely. The other day he said ‘can we just do James full time?'”

11+ test preparation for a range of West London day schools

‘James is a first-rate advisor on all matters relating to applications for tertiary education. Showing a natural ability to counsel young people, he has a very strong eye for detail, combined with an informed awareness of the evolving nature of the educational landscape. His warm interpersonal skills, combined where necessary with directive clarity, mean he is able to guide each applicant to a suitable place of study or training. Most of all, James cares deeply that each individual should make positive and life-enhancing choices for future academic and personal development.’

Mr Stephen Rathbone, Academic Director at Radley College 2012-23

  • Entrance Exam Specialist

  • Fully Vetted