"I’ve met quite a few lovely tutors but I can definitely state that Joe’s enthusiasm and love of teaching, his exceptional knowledge of the texts, and his thoughtfulness and professional integrity really set him apart. We’re truly very happy to have found him."
Parent of Year 10 English student
2011 – 2014 Guildhall School of Music and Drama – MA (with Distinction) Acting
2008 – 2011 University of Oxford, Corpus Christi College – BA (Hons) 2.1 – English Language and Literature
2001 – 2008 Reading School: A-Levels: English Literature (A), French (A), Drama and Theatre Studies (A)
2001 – 2008 Reading School: AS-Levels: English Literature (A), French (A), Drama and Theatre Studies (A), History (A), Critical Thinking (B)
2001 – 2008 Reading School: 11 GCSEs: Drama (A*), English (A*), English Literature (A*), French (A*), History (A*), Latin (A*), Religious Studies (A*), Mathematics (A), Biology (A), Chemistry (B), Physics (B)
I’ve been working as a professional tutor since 2016. I have a degree in English from the University of Oxford, and a Master’s Degree from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I specialise in preparing students for Entrance Exams at 11+, and it has been my pleasure to work with many families supporting their children in gaining entry to highly competitive schools.
As well as specialising in English, Maths, 11+, and 13+, I am experienced in tutoring English and Drama at all ages; including GCSE and A-Level, as well as working as an Acting Coach for both groups and individual students.
Watching my tutees get the most out of our lessons, breaking through the aspects they find hardest while stretching their capacity in their strongest areas, is an immense privilege, and something I’ve found an utter joy. I believe passionately in the difference some time with a tutor can make, and I love the opportunity to personalise my approach to match each student’s needs, and to help them achieve the very best.
I’m delighted that several of my students have enjoyed our lessons so much that they have recommended me to others, including siblings, classmates and friends.
Please see below for a snapshot of my recent tutoring experience.
11+ & 13+ preparation overview
I’ve helped students prepare for entry exams to schools including Highgate, Dulwich, Alleyns, St Paul’s, KCS, Caterham School, St Benedict’s, and Westminster. My 11+ students have a high success rate, with nearly 100% in the last year gaining entry to competitive London schools including Chigwell, Epsom College, Whitgift and Forest.
In Maths, I help students revise key topics and firm up their method – often the trick is explaining and practising a topic the student finds challenging in terms that he or she can understand. The key with Maths is always practice and patience, as it is very easy for students to feel they are being ‘left behind’ in class. A little bit of time working at a slower pace has produced real improvements in each of my students, and with those for whom Maths is a stronger subject, we spend more time on firming up Exam Technique.
A lot of work in English at 11+/13+ focuses on Comprehension; this is an area where I’ve found students often feel unsure of what is expected of them. I make sure they have a lot of practice and that we build up their technique; so that they feel ready to tackle any question. We also work on Creative Writing; which combines building up a student’s confidence in their imagination and their ability to sustain ideas with improving their vocabulary and general reading skill. There is nothing quite like seeing a student making a breakthrough with English – whether it is suddenly finding that they can tackle challenging questions with confidence, or watching the cogs click into place so they can write brilliant stories or essays, using the techniques we have worked on.
James – 11+
I had the pleasure of tutoring James for a year, focusing on Maths, as he prepared for Entrance Exams to several highly competitive schools. James was clearly bright, with great potential, but his marks in practice papers were very inconsistent. He was struggling to remember all of the methods and techniques he needed to, and I could see it was severely affecting his confidence. I made a book where James could keep a record of all the practice we were doing, and where he could easily add his own notes, and I could add information for him, to help him keep track of everything he needed to remember. Over time, I also supported James with other aspects of the 11+, and helped him improve his Creative Writing, by getting him to focus on what made him stand out from other students; making his writing much more personal and showing examiners how much he had to offer. When before he felt nervous about writing in a personal way. We also worked on Interview Technique in the final stages of his applications. I was delighted to see James’s reaction as the offers started coming in one-by-one. Having secured places at three of his favourite schools, James and his family decided that he would start at Chigwell, his first-choice.
Milo – 11+
I was tasked with helping Milo prepare for the 11+ after a recommendation from James, who Milo was at school with. It was obvious that Milo was an exceptionally bright, lively young man who had the potential to do well, but that he was severely hampered by a couple of things. There had been some changes of teacher in Milo’s Maths set, and there were some big gaps in his knowledge. Milo has dyslexia, and this was affecting his confidence. He made a telling remark very early in one of our lessons, when he said the reason he was not good at something was ‘because of my dyslexia’.
I was determined to get Milo to see that dyslexia was a problem he could manage, that he did not need to feel he was being ‘punished’ in any way, or that he was ‘less than’ any of his classmates. Milo is highly visual, so I made him video recaps of Maths techniques that he (and his Mum) could use for revision and homework help outside of our lessons. We worked through practice papers, sometimes Milo on his own, sometimes together, and I made sure I set time aside to go over the tricky techniques that he needed gently reminding of every now and then. Over time, his marks became more consistent. Milo’s English was strong, but with some clear areas he had to work on; over the course of our lessons, it was a total joy to see his confidence improve. It wasn’t always easy for Milo, but I did all I could to make sure he felt proud of his effort and progress, rather than ashamed of it being hard sometimes. Milo did not get an offer from his first choice school, but he successfully gained entry to two of his runner-up options. He and his Mum decided on Colfe’s School. I’m extremely proud of the progress we made, and of how much Milo achieved.
Sam – 11+
Sam and I worked on 11+ preparation, also following a recommendation from his classmate James’s parents. Sam’s SEN were dyslexia and slow processing. There were some big gaps in his Maths knowledge, which his parents told me had led to a few tearful homework sessions. His confidence was very low. I found Sam to be one of the most talented and delightful tutees I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. He had a huge variety of hobbies and passions, and a sophisticated taste in music and books. I built a rapport based on being absolutely clear that, in my lessons, there are no stupid questions: the only mistake is not to ask the question when you’re not sure. The moment Sam knew how to do something; he was flying, he just needed regular reminders and plenty of encouragement. I made personalised resources for Sam, breaking down every aspect of the syllabus he was struggling with, and getting him to explain things to me in his own words in lessons to check his understanding. As he progressed through his exams, we worked on Interview technique, where it was my pleasure to show Sam that his passions and quirks were what made him stand out, and that he should share them with the same enthusiasm he did in our lessons. I was delighted to find out that Sam gained offers to several schools on his family’s list, and he eventually decided on Forest.
Julian and Joanne – 11+ English, English Year 8-10
One of my longest-standing clients has been Julian’s family. I was originally hired to help Julian improve his English while he was in Year 4. With this long run-up to his exams, our focus was on developing Julian’s ability with language and enthusiasm for reading over time. Julian was a diligent student but I could see that English was a subject he’d had some quite negative experiences of at school, so it was essential to work patiently, creatively, and in a way that would gradually build up his skill and confidence. I’m very pleased to say that Julian was offered entry to three of the schools he sat 11+ entrance exams for. I have also been working with his older sister for two years on English, and will continue to do so as she begins her GCSEs.
Daniel – 11+
I had only a few weeks with Daniel, taking over from a tutor who was no longer available for the final few weeks of preparation for his entrance exam for Caterham School, which he and his family had their heart set on.
Daniel had been working well, but his knowledge in Maths was still quite patchy a few weeks out from the exam, and he was missing marks I felt he was capable of getting in Comprehension: he wasn’t going into enough detail in his answers. Daniel’s outward confidence and easy-going attitude sometimes got in the way of him feeling he could ask for help, and I noticed in Maths he would go out of his way not to show his working, often resulting in mistakes, and always missing him marks he ought to have been getting. We had a weekly one hour lesson for the few weeks before Daniel’s Christmas holidays, before I planned a more intensive crash-course with some 1.5 and 2 hour lessons over the Christmas holidays. I balanced the areas Daniel was shaky in with regular reinforcement of the aspects he felt most confident in (a kind of ‘carrot and stick’ approach which really suited him). We built up a strong rapport in a short amount of time (there was one memorable evening where I nearly got snowed in at his family home after a lesson!) and we had a little break over Christmas and then got straight back to work. I was able to get Daniel to see the areas he could improve in, and, noticing his love of science and problem-solving, taught him a system for approaching Comprehension more scientifically that really paid off. I was thrilled when he successfully gained a place at Caterham School following his exam; he thoroughly deserved it.
Atty – 13+
Atty was a bright and curious student but he was going through a great deal of anxiety, feeling held back by his dyslexia and other Special Educational Needs when we began having in-person lessons. He rarely participated in class discussion, and he was finding the process of 13+ applications very daunting. I worked with him on English and Maths in preparation for 13+ exams. By gently going over topics he was having trouble with, and offering lots of positive feedback, I found that his marks both in school and in work in our sessions steadily improved. Comprehension was a particularly troublesome area for Atty, as understandably, reading was not an activity he enjoyed. I worked with Atty to craft an approach to Comprehension questions that would empower him. Through creating a ‘system’ he could apply to looking for details across a range of passages, Atty’s confidence grew and, with plenty of practice and lots of encouragement, he started producing excellent written work, and reading independently between our lessons: a huge step forward for him.
I am extremely proud of Atty’s progress and achievements: he overcame considerable obstacles and is a happier and more proactive student now. His parents are kind enough to keep me informed of how he’s doing and we have the occasional ‘top-up’ session when he needs it, but after successfully gaining entry to his preferred school at 13+, he is currently very happy in Year 10.
Amelia – 13+
I worked with Amelia in preparation for 13+ entry exams, focusing on Creative Writing in English, and Maths where her marks were lagging behind.
Amelia benefited hugely from the idea that there is ‘no such thing as a stupid question’. I made her an exercise book for Maths in which she could keep all the work we did in our lessons, and make her own notes on each topic. I also put together short video ‘recaps’ of key topics that Amelia found difficult to remember, which was a great way to help boost her confidence as she revised. Amelia was very uncomfortable writing creatively. I’m experienced teaching creative writing with children and adults, and it was clear to me that Amelia needed some clear guidelines as to what was expected of her, and a lot of confidence-boosting.
Amelia’s work steadily improved, both in terms of ticking the boxes she needed to take, and also putting her own stamp on the assignments, which grew more and more engaging to read. Amelia worked hard to achieve consistency in her written work, and she received two offers from her chosen schools.
I helped two students prepare intensively for their English GCSEs: both of them had very limited time to work with a tutor, so I made sure we targeted the key areas they needed to focus on, and I was pleased to see them both making huge progress in their essay writing skills.
Molly – A Level English
When we began working for her English A-Level, Molly needed a lot of support. There were some issues with concentration and school attendance, and a bad set of mock exams which had led to her becoming severely demotivated. There was talk from teachers that she might not be allowed to remain at school to finish the year. With encouragement, I found Molly to be an exceptionally bright, lively, and creative thinker across all her A-Level subjects. Her A-Level texts included Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, plays by Oscar Wilde, Hamlet, and Hardy’s poetry. I devised a rigorous tutorial programme to motivate her and ensure she thoroughly revised her texts each week. I built a rapport with Molly based on the idea that I was a coach, not a teacher; we could discuss texts in detail, and I could help her develop her ideas, but the work had to be done by her or not at all. My goal was for her to see how much she could achieve, and I’m proud to say that as our lessons progressed, her attitude to work transformed. She re-gained motivation, organising study sessions with a friend, and she responded brilliantly to the work we did helping her essay-writing technique. She even gained A* grades in her final Mock Essays, which spurred her on to work harder.
Molly gained real focus in her written work, in both coursework and exams. Her paragraphs would focus on a clear topic and then move on without the ‘waffling’ that had held her back before. I helped Molly see that her independence and creativity could be a strength: so long as she covered the core points, ‘the obvious stuff’ she needed to address in an essay, she could then bring in her more original, and deeply insightful, views on a text. She worked very hard in her exams, and I’m absolutely thrilled that she achieved a B: an enormous leap from what she was predicted when we began lessons, and a testament to how much she turned things around. She returned to school for another year to complete an additional A-Level in Classics.
Hobbies and Interests
Alongside tutoring, I’ve been working professionally as an actor for six years. My work has included performances in London’s West End and at Shakespeare’s Globe, running a small award-winning theatre company and producing and directing several new plays, and shooting the lead role in my first feature film in Summer 2019.
“Joe worked with my son in preparation for the 11+ Common Entrance exams focusing primarily on Maths but also some English aspects. Joe was able to establish a great rapport quickly and my son very much looked forward to his tutor sessions with Joe each week. Joe was able to identify any gaps in the learning that needed immediate focus and had a good grasp on all the areas covered in the Common Entrance exams. Joe was also very helpful with interview techniques and preparation. What Joe did brilliantly was to build my son’s confidence in a very natural and organic way. I have no doubt that the work Joe did help to ensure that my son had a very successful experience.”
Parent of James, 11+ student
“We are very happy with Joe. He is friendly, dedicated and always on time… Joe successfully motivates my son to engage more in the lesson and helps him to overcome his weaknesses. He also gives us regular detailed reports about the lessons which are highly appreciated. We have already seen improvements in my son’s marks at school, my daughter will start her lessons with Joe next month too!”
“Joe has been excellent with our son and I would thoroughly recommend him. Our son chose English as he couldn’t think of anything else and thought it would be relatively easy having done well at GCSE level. I was concerned about how a tutor would feel working with someone who isn’t very motivated but Joe managed to re-engage him by encouraging and tapping into the bits our son is good at and working with him on the trickier aspects. His confidence has grown and he’s spending more time on his work – with higher quality work and higher grades as a result. Joe has been patient and persevering! He’s spent time preparing specific notes to help on certain topics aligned to what the school has been doing. What has particularly impressed me is that he has clearly taken time to adapt his approach to our son’s specific character and learning style. In his recent mock exams, he said that everything he wrote was “thanks to Joe” so thank you Joe!”
Parent of on-going A-Level English lessons with Isaac
“Joe is a very inspiring, knowledgeable tutor, with a fantastic work ethic: enthusiastic, patient, caring and with a very thoughtful approach to teaching. He has great flair not only for understanding his students’ learning needs and potential but also for knowing how to encourage them to see beyond their perceived limits. His lessons are effective, very engaging and fun and he has been really good with providing my son with exciting work suitable for his advanced understanding and abilities level. Having a child who is homeschooled I’ve met quite a few lovely tutors but I can definitely state that Joe’s enthusiasm and love of teaching, his exceptional knowledge of the texts, and his thoughtfulness and professional integrity really set him apart. We’re truly very happy to have found him.”
Parent of Alex, Year 10 English