"My daughter has gained great confidence in the different topics and exam techniques due to Octavia's professionalism, hard work, enthusiasm, and building great rapport. I would recommend Octavia to any parents and students who are looking to develop their understanding and skills in Biology and Chemistry."
Parent of A Level student
PhD Biological Sciences, “Insect responses to climate change in Antarctica and ecosystem consequences”, University of Birmingham (current)
MRes Biological Sciences, University of Bristol (Pass, highest award given)
BSc Zoology, University of Bristol (2.1)
A Levels (Richard Huish College): Biology A (A), Geography (A), Chemistry (B), History AS Level (A)
Extended Project Qualification (A*)
GCSEs (Wellington School) Maths (A), English Literature (A), English Language (A), Science (A), Additional Science (A), Religious Studies (A), Spanish GCSE (A), Geography GCSE (A*), History (A*), Music (B)
Before we begin sessions, I will ask the student whether they are someone who likes a lot of notes, or whether they prefer more visual information. I have taught many students with different learning preferences (as well as SEND), and I am very versatile in my teaching methods. I will also establish what the student needs help in. This may include specific topics they aren’t feeling confident about, how to effectively revise, exam technique – or as I often find, a combination of everything. I teach at a very steady pace, ensuring that the student is always understanding everything I am saying and writing. I say things as I write, underlining keywords and phrases, which are all available in note form for revision. I like to use different resources in my lessons to keep the student engaged – for example, the use of short videos to bring ideas alive, reading articles together to provide the base of discussions that will push students out of their curriculum to start thinking about ‘real-world’ scientific problems and concepts, and practising exam questions, and quizzes. Many students feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to learn for the sciences, therefore, I use ‘keywords’ from the course specification and previous marking schemes to teach the students exactly what they need to know. For the more curious students, I can widen their knowledge of Biology/Chemistry and science as a whole, making links with recent discoveries and ideas in the scientific community.
As well as tutoring Science, I help students with their personal statements for University entrance, including University Personal Statements, CV Writing, Mock Interviews, Public Speaking and Mentoring/Careers advice. I am also able to help with personal statements for Master’s and PhD courses.
I tutored Oscar over the course of a year in KS3 Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Oscar was finding it difficult to remember all the information for the science subjects and wasn’t finding lessons particularly interesting. Alongside helping Oscar to revise the topics, I also showed Oscar lots of interesting videos to bring the science alive. For example, we watched a video on a human heart dissection and one on explosive reactions. In addition to this, I spoke about my own research and started introducing GCSE concepts to Oscar which helped him see the purpose of some of the information he was learning, as well as showing him how the topics link to real world science. Oscar’s mum always made a point of emailing me after each lesson to say how delighted she was that Oscar was suddenly enjoying science so much. Oscar obtained excellent teacher assessed grades (during Covid) across all three sciences and is now working towards his triple science award which I am also helping him with.
IGCSE Biology (Edexcel IGCSE)
I tutored Milon for one academic year. Milon was an excellent student who was doing well in Biology and was achieving 7s and 8s in his mock exams, however, he was finding exam technique tricky in Biology. Together we focused on improving Milon’s exam technique by practising past paper questions and studying mark schemes to ensure he was starting to use key words and phrases in his questions. I also showed Milon how to make links between topics in Biology which not only helped with his revision, but also with the way he understood and answered questions. Milon achieved a 9 in his IGCSE Biology exam.
IGCSE Biology (Edexcel IGCSE)
I tutored Ollie for over six months. Ollie was finding Biology tricky compared to the other sciences as it is very wordy and knowing the content alone is not enough to achieve high grades. Before Ollie began tutoring with me, he achieved a 5 in a mock exam. Ollie was very interested in Biology so I often dedicated five minutes at the end of each lesson to discuss something happening in the scientific world to stretch his knowledge beyond the curriculum. Ollie began making links between topics and was finding everything a lot more interesting and understandable. Ollie also said that he was starting to think about science more generally outside of lessons and would often come to each lesson with lots of questions about things he had thought about. Ollie was able to learn the content with relative ease, but it was exam technique that he particularly struggled with. We practised lots of past papers together and highlighted the key words and phrases that were needed to obtain high marks. Ollie achieved a high 7 in his IGCSE Biology exam and is now studying Biology A Level with the hopes of studying Psychology at university.
A Level Biology (OCR)
Amy had been getting Ds in her mock exams and was finding it really tricky to translate her knowledge to exam questions. I helped Amy over a few months to improve her exam technique by helping her revise topics that she had already covered in class and highlighting the key words and phrases she needed to remember to use in exam questions, and by working through lots of past paper questions together to get her thinking like an examiner. Amy achieved a B in her A Level Biology and she was thrilled on results day when she found out that she had secured her Midwifery place at university.
A Level Biology (CIE)
I tutored Charlie in A Level Biology over a few months leading up to his final exams. Charlie was finding it difficult to understand some of the trickier components of the course such as genetics, and was also finding that although he was revising hard, he was achieving only Cs in his mock exams. I went through some difficult topics with Charlie, ensuring he was not only understanding the concepts, but was also able to make links with other areas of the course and was highlighting key words and phrases to create a concise set of notes. Once these key words and phrases were identified, we then spent the remained of our sessions practicing exam papers and reviewing exam command words. Charlie had not spent much time looking at mark schemes, and he found these to be a very helpful revision tool and is something I introduce to students early as I believe that sometimes not enough emphasis is placed on them. Charlie achieved an A in his A Level and was accepted into his top university choice to read Medicine.
A Level Biology (OCR)
I tutored Aalia in A Level Biology for only four sessions. She had achieved a B grade in her mock exam before her finals, and she was disappointed by this. After giving Aalia an initial ‘test’ and exploring some concepts with her, I identified some areas that needed to be worked on. We spent a couple of lessons covering some tricky topics together, such as genetics, and we then focused on exam technique. Aalia found it very useful to practice questions where we not only completed questions, but also spent time studying mark schemes together to ensure she was starting to understand the key words and phrases that needed to be used to achieve the higher grades. Aalia was very enthusiastic and interested in Biology and I set her homework to expand her understanding beyond the curriculum; for example, I would send her some past paper questions on genetic diagrams and would also give her an article to read on up-coming and novel DNA technology to cure genetic diseases, such as Next Generation Sequencing and CRISPR. Even though I only saw Aalia for a short time, she achieved an A in her A Level and was accepted into her first choice university to read Medicine.
I have many roles alongside my Ph.D; I am a public examiner, school governor for King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls in Birmingham (where I sit on the welfare and curriculum committees), Co-Head of Education and Outreach for the UK Polar Network, and a STEM Ambassador. These roles are not only incredibly rewarding for me, but they also enable me to keep up to date with what’s going on in the UK education system, including key curriculum changes and updates to exam structure, ensuring I am an excellent tutor who understands things from my student’s point of view. I am also an international lecturer on cruise lines where I share my passion for polar science with audiences across the world and where I get to combine my love for science and teaching.
In my spare time, I do a lot of ballet and contemporary dancing, and I always look forward to performing in the university’s annual show. I have also recently started taking ice skating lessons, and I have so far only fallen once! Famous last words of course. I am an avid reader, and I like to read non-fiction away from university, particularly Stephen King. I listen to a wide range of music, from pop to jazz to African, and I enjoy playing the piano whenever I go back to my family home. Being a researcher sometimes means I miss being creative which is why my hobbies are so important to me. They also give me something to look forward to outside of work, and encourage me to maintain a good work life balance.
”Octavia is an excellent GCSE Biology tutor. We’ve had a few Biology tutors that didn’t work out. My son really responded to her. She’s reliable, very responsive and a pleasure to communicate with. With Octavia’s help, my son achieved grade 9 in his GCSE mock results, raising his confidence level significantly. Octavia is always very willing to help, not only with GCSE Biology but also with homework sets, internal school exams and EPQ queries. We would highly recommend Octavia without reservation.”
Parent of GCSE student
“Octavia helped our son with his A Level biology after he had been struggling to manage his anxiety and understand what the paper required of him. He not only managed to get through the exams but we have just got his result and he has achieved an A which he was hoping for. We really do appreciate all her support”.
Parent of A-Level student
“The high levels of detail that are provided by Octavia in her tutoring sessions are useful and concise and have helped me greatly improve in all areas of biology. Since starting tutoring with Octavia, I am now achieving 2 or 3 grades higher than I was only a few months ago, I couldn’t really ask for much more.”