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Sean GT

Sean has worked with Simply Learning Tuition for over eight years and has worked on a range of placements including mentoring, travelling with families, common entrance preparation and university applications. We always receive excellent feedback about his work.

Simply Learning Tuition

  • 11+

  • 13 +

  • A Level

  • GCSE

  • Mentoring

  • Oxbridge Applications

  • Personal Statement Support

  • Senior School Entrance

Academic History

After graduating from Cambridge, I spent a year working in an international tuition school in Hong Kong. Here, I supervised a range of students (ages 12-18) with a variety of academic ambitions. It was an intense environment and one that offered a broad overview of the challenges posed by different educational systems. While the local, Chinese system privileged accuracy, European courses placed more emphasis on independent thought, and the IB placed the arts in a more social context. Many of my students were left with the somewhat bewildering task of navigating between these or adjusting to totally different modes of thinking.

Later, I took some of this knowledge to the UAE, where I helped launch a tuition office. I was described as a ‘Super Tutor’ in the Khalleej Times (a flattering, although somewhat silly honour). Although I eventually became a producer and continued my own education (I recently completed a masters), I continued to see students privately in London. Some of these were familiar faces who were looking for a top-up and others were referrals.

I find that there is something incredibly rewarding about working on a one to one basis with students. Everything is remarkably accelerated. This applies both to academics (students can find themselves leaping across grade boundaries) but also on a harder to define emotional level. I’ve witnessed students undergo enormous transformations and express their new confidence in such different ways. It’s enormously rewarding to be part of this process.

University of East Anglia – MA Creative Writing

University of Cambridge (Robinson) – BA  English (2:1)

About Me

The main trait differentiating a good tutor from a bad one is versatility. A good tutor is quick to learn what makes their student unique (their interests, their strengths, their ambitions) and responds to this accordingly. Often the subject needs to be translated into terms that a child can understand. I’ve had some students, for instance, that could only get their minds around Shakespeare by viewing it in terms of contemporary London or personal experiences. Some students require incredibly hands on tutoring, such as sample essays while others need more space to develop their own ideas. A good tutor should be able to adapt their techniques on a case by case, lesson by lesson basis. I also think being honest and personable is incredibly important. Tutors are not traditional pedagogues, but often become role models and indeed friends with those they teach.

My main subjects are English Literature and Language as well as common entrance and mentoring. I also teach philosophy, ethics and have extensive experience overseeing university applications.

Recent tuition

I have experience with the Eton Scholarship exam as well as various other common entrance exams. I have helped students gain admission at prestigious universities such as Oxford. Under my supervision, I’ve seen students move up many grade boundaries for GCSE and A-levels (in several instances, students have moved from C/D grades to full marks). I have worked with over 30 students in a one to one setting, please find examples of some of my previous students below.

Below are some case studies that give more detail about the students I’ve worked with:

11+ Entrance Exam preparation

This student achieved solid marks in his English tests and was applying to a variety of schools in the UK. Our main issue was tailoring his responses to the examiner’s requirements- detailed descriptions, awareness of the reader, experimentations with sentence structures. Often his work was highly imaginative and science fiction based. However, they tended to lack maturity and were at times shallow. We picked out key moments in the extract and looked at ways of labouring the description so that they were sufficiently vivid. We also looked at ways of deploying specific devices (such as onomatopoeia or direct thought) and more difficult forms of grammar (such as colons). Often his homework required him to incorporate what we learned in the lesson into a new piece of writing.

He did not struggle conceptually with the comprehensions, but rarely achieved full marks. We realised that the main issue was that he did not write enough for each question. This was an easy problem to tackle, we focused on identifying how many sentences or points would be required to earn two, four or six marks and tailored his responses accordingly. He was soon achieving top scores.

CE 13+ Scholarship

This student was sitting the Eton Scholarship exam and needed help with the essay section as well as the general paper. We soon discovered that his main area of weakness were the more open ended questions that could be tackled in a variety of ways. We practised methods for narrowing the questions down, interpreting them in a given way and then arguing a case. Ultimately, his answers grew confident and his overall performance became faster. Another issue he encountered was a lack of general knowledge with regards to academic thought. Over the weeks, I supplemented our lessons with quick overviews of major world theories, such as utilitarianism. This provided him with a foothold in the more abstract questions and also gave  him material with which he could forge his own unique standpoint.

This student scored highly in my section and went on to study at Eton. Later that year, I worked with his family again by prepping his older sister for the LNAT.

Common Entrance Exam preparation

This student was preparing for various entrance exams and had his heart set on Tonbridge. It was difficult to gauge his general ability due to his excessive shyness, which hampered both his written work and his ability to discuss ideas during lessons. My main focus was to develop his confidence and to increase the length of his written pieces. To improve his compositions, I set him deliberately strange titles (as well as the standard titles from the ISEB). The aim was to decrease his inhibitions when writing and to encourage experimentation. We also explored ways of fabricating real experiences so that they conveyed something meaningful to the reader. Technically, his writing was very good and so our main priority was to make it more provocative. While composing descriptive pieces, we structured the writing around the five senses. This gave him a formula that he could comfortably work with when in doubt. It also allowed him to create more create vivid landscapes. One of his Christmas themed tales was particularly memorable!

By the end of my time with this student he was writing genuinely unique pieces of work and his confidence increased amazingly. By the time we progressed to interview practise, he was able to speak articulately about his experiences and able to argue his corner. To further boost his interview work, we developed a sense of narrative to the things he studied and the interests he pursued.

GCSE English

My first full time student was straight A candidate in all subjects apart from English. She aspired to study medicine at HKU and gain admissions a year early. Given the competiveness of the university, it was imperative she gained top marks. She had only achieved Cs in her GCSE mocks so we started more or less from the scratch, meeting for at least two hours a day up to six times a week. Her main problem with the Language paper stemmed from an inability to understand the actual demands of the exam, what the markers were looking for. We started by studying the mark schemes and working through previous papers. She would provide an initial response and I would modify it to demonstrate ways of making it more appealing to markers.

She found it difficult to infer effects of certain literary techniques or to make generalisations about tone. We thus took a more scientific approach to the task looking at ways of structuring responses around associations and connotations. We looked at how certain words automatically summoned certain secondary associations, shifting the emphasis to a more intellectual approach, rather than an intuitive one.

For her Literature exam we worked through the texts, again, starting from scratch and designing template essays. We categorised the novels and plays into major themes and prepared a model answers for each. In the final week, we practised answering past questions as well as random questions I devised to find ways that all of the pre-prepared material could be deployed.

This student achieved full marks in her Literature exam and almost full marks in her Language exam. Several months later she returned to gain assistance in writing her personal statement for HKU. She has since achieved early admission and will be starting this year.

Middle Years Programme IB English

This student was taking IB at GCSE level and so we spent much of our time working on her courseworks and presentations. Our first project was a comparison between Macbeth and 1984. Her initial effort was solid, but lacked cohesion and at times seemed unsubstantiated or superficial. She needed help assessing the relevance of the material she selected and understanding the importance of  contextualising points and assertions. We brainstormed considerably, returned to the texts and her final piece achieved the equivalent of an A*. She achieved the same result for subsequent pieces in the World Literature section of the IB.

IB English

This student was struggling with the world literature component of the IB course. While he enjoyed Marquez, he found interpreting the text difficult. He was also unfamiliar with the Magical Realism genre which seemed to resist cogent analysis. Together, we worked on a chapter by chapter breakdown of the novella. We started first with a discussion of the basic elements of the text (e.g. plot and character development). We then considered broader thematic concerns, authorial intent, and how these were serviced by the freedoms and restrictions of the genre. After reaching this stage of abstraction, he was able to make meaningful and often quite creative comparisons with the other set texts.

This student scored well in his exams and later came back to receive help with his personal statement for his university applications.

A Level English

This student was having problems with his A-Level coursework which involved a comparison between Heart of Darkness and Frankenstein. Admittedly, this was a somewhat odd choice of set texts! It seemed there were too many unrelated ideas, critical voices and contextual considerations for him to find a coherent strand.

We started first with a general conversation about what he believed both texts to be about. From here we identified key points of similarity. Both texts seemed to be discussing darkness, an internal state that is terrifying when projected outwards or made visible. Using this, we could develop an argument. Shelly and Conrad agreed that there is something horrifying within the human psyche. They had different concepts of what this horror was. Conrad saw it in terms of something broad and existential. Shelley saw it as something more specific; a state that occurs when we trespass certain moral norms. Both were ambivalent towards this horror; repulsed and fascinated in equal measure. This allowed us to integrate the contextual notes and critics that had seemed so extraneous before. This student achieved a top mark for his coursework and became an enduring Conrad fan!

Academic Mentoring 

After a separation of his parents, this 13 year old student became apathetic when it came to his schooling. To re-engage him, I have taken his interests and turned them into pragmatic, achievable goals. I have been ‘hands on’, focussing on confidence building, motivation, finding routes through challenges and next steps in his education and potential careers, to help him conceptualise. His parents have recently doubled our mentoring sessions because of their positive effect. 

Mentoring

With a focus on cultural engagement, I worked with this 12 year old student who had undiagnosed neurodiversity and severe behavioural problems which meant his behaviour was challenging at school and in public. I supported him and his family with working with his neurodviersity and engaging him into his life, school and culturally. My work with this student was successful and he improved so much that he was able to attend trips to the theatre with me. 

PSAT English

This student was preparing for education in the USA and so had to take the PSAT. He excelled in maths and the multiple-choice questions did not present significant problems (he tackled them through rigorous practise and memorisation). Our main emphasis was the personal essays. He was interested in history and paid attention to the news, but he struggled to find ways of deploying this material. Often he would reference Gaddafi and Mugabi in his work but would do so in politically incorrect ways. I helped him to foster a greater sensitivity to his reader and we discussed more effective ways of utilising his wealth of general knowledge.

Another issue that he faced was structure. His essays were often self-contradictory and highly confusing. Knowing that he was a mathematical thinker, I took a more systemic approach to teaching essay writing. We talked about general structures (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) and then plotted what he would do in every paragraph from the introduction to conclusion. This provided him with a template which he could use in all future SATS.

Oxbridge Applications

This student had been rejected from Oxford after her first try and came to me to support her second attempt. She was applying to read law, and wanted help with the LNAT multiple choice paper, the essay section and for interview technique. We met for two to three hours at a time. After spending the first few lessons working on structure, we worked to embolden her essay style. I encouraged her to take more chances when making an argument, and use a wider range of referents when proving the point. In the last part of the lesson I adopted the role of interviewer and we debated current events from a philosophical perspective. Our preparation was successful and she currently is reading law in her second year.

US university applications

This student was applying for a masters position at several of America’s most elite film schools, such as Columbia and NYU. I helped to edit both her creative pieces (short films, scripts, treatments) as well as her personal statements. Much of our work was spent making the application cohesive from an examiner’s perspective, identifying her niche and passions and using this to structure her submission. We edited her creative work into genre pieces so that she demonstrated a knowledge of the form and I used my experience as a script editor to provide instruction. I will be seeing this student in the near future to begin work on interview technique.

Hobbies and Interests

I attend the theatre regularly and most major cultural events. I have an active interest in cinema (particularly indie and art house) as well as contemporary music.

  • Mentor