Make an Enquiry

Sean GT

Sean has worked with Simply Learning Tuition for over 8 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:

Mentoring:

Kasra – Age 13 Academic Mentoring: 

After a separation of his parents, Kasra 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’ with Kasra, focussing on confidence building, motivation, finding routes through challenges and next steps in his education and potential careers, to help Kasra conceptualise. Kasra’s parents have recently doubled our mentoring sessions because of their positive effect. 

Ahmad – Age 12 Mentoring: 

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

Sam – Age 13 to 14 Mentoring: 

I worked with Sam in Italy, Colorado, London and online.  My initial brief to work with this family was limited, however the contract was extended to support Sam and his family wherever they were, for one year.  Sam was enrolled at the American School in Rome, he was not engaged in his lessons and had challenges with study skills and preparing for examinations. My work with Sam was so successful that the family replaced some of Sam’s academic tutors with my mentoring support for Sam, as I was able to help him unlock his potential. 

Holly – Oxbridge Applications:

Holly 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.

Jess – US university applications:

Jess 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 Jess’ niche and passions and using this to structure her submission. We edited her creative work into genre pieces so that Jess demonstrated a knowledge of the form and I used my experience as a script editor to provide instruction. I will be seeing Jess in the near future to begin work on interview technique.

Marcus – IB English:

Marcus 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.

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

Leo – A Level English:

Leo 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. Leo achieved a top mark for his coursework and became an enduring Conrad fan!

GCSE Case Studies:

Coco – GCSE English:

Coco was my first full time student. She was a 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.

Coco found it difficult to infer effects of certain literary techniques or to make generalizations 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 categorized 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.

Coco 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.

Sophie – English Language:

Sophie was referred to me by Coco and was achieving better marks. Her main problems resulted from a lack of confidence. Sophie was often convinced that her work was inadequate (largely due to a rather punitive English teacher at school) and so found the Language paper difficult. Often her essay structures were chaotic and her homework would span for several pages, bewildering the reader. It was as if she was attempting to fire a multitude of conflicting ideas hoping that at least one would gain her a top mark. The first step was to prioritize her thoughts and then to have confidence in her decisions. Once we picked the essay’s main thesis, it could be developed and nuanced and subsequent paragraphs carried more meaningful focal points.

After Sophie finished her exams, I continued to work with her family. I started teaching her younger sister, Adrianna, focusing on the creative writing aspect of the Language paper and tentatively exploring the poetry section of the Literature exam.

Adrianna – English Literature and Language:

Like Coco, Adrianna wanted to study medicine a year early at HKU. Adrianna was a solid worker but often felt frustrated by the poetry section as she believed she lacked sufficient ideas. We spent considerable time working through each poem in the ‘Songs of Ourselves’ anthology, starting from the basics – what is the poem about, what are its main structural features, how do they contribute to the meaning—and then progressed from there. The aim was to discover what Adrianna found unusual or unique about each poem so that she could cultivate more idiosyncratic approaches to the texts. I also supplemented Adrianna’s observations with some of my own so that she had a range of ideas to work with. We took a similar approach to the play, Journey’s End, and the novel, Wuthering Heights, and, finally, Adrianna had a catalogue of interesting assertions for each text and so went to the exams feeling like an expert. This fulfilled the GCSE requirement for candidates to  ‘demonstrate a lively engagement with the material’ and Adrianna achieved full marks in her English Literature paper.

For the Language paper, Adrianna’s main difficulty was timing. Despite all of her efforts, she rarely managed to finish a paper within the constraints. To understand what was going wrong, I had her write a paper in front of me. I stopped her each time she finished a plan and then again after she finished writing the question in full so that we eventually had a precise minute by minute break down of what she was doing in her practice tests. We then worked together to create a tight schedule coordinating each aspect of the exam (i.e. how many minutes should be allocated for reading, planning, writing questions). Adrianna found the structure reassuring and rapidly improved her timing. We continued to fine-tune the schedule as we approached the actual GCSEs. The strategy came off in the actual exam and she achieved top marks.

I have spoken to Adrianna recently and she too secured a place at HKU so will be studying medicine this year.

Justin – GCSE English:

Unlike many of my other students, Justin attended a local, comprehensive school. Unfortunately, this meant that the GCSE syllabus was not being taught in school and so he was not receiving much support or practice for the imminent exams. His English was poorer than many of my other students (who were native speakers) and many of the subject’s demands (forming creative viewpoints, dealing with ambiguous content) seemed unfamiliar to him. We were working under extreme time constraints and I was only seeing him once a week. This meant that our work had to be wholly exam-orientated. We rigorously worked through each past paper. I devised an essay structure for him and made sure that each essay or answer he submitted followed the template.

We then painstakingly went through each of his essays and worked out how he could improve. I would read the content out loud to help develop his ear for the language, so that he could identify the errors for himself and learn to correct them. In the months that I worked with him, he made rapid progress and moved from a low D to an A in actual exam. He is now boarding in London.

Lauren – GCSE English:

I taught Lauren periodically as she boarded in England. During our first group of lessons, we worked through secondary criticism for The Great Gatsby. The idea was to find ways of incorporating scholarly opinion into her essays in a fashion that would boost her own material, rather than distract from it. In subsequent lessons we focused on developing her poetry interpretations. Given that she was already writing at an extremely high standard, I encouraged her to take more risks in her writing, to venture more extreme interpretations so that her paper would stand out and so she would really exploit her creative flair. I’m pleased to say this approach paid off and Lauren achieved her predicted top grades.

Tess – Middle Years Programme IB English:

Tess 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. Tess 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*. Tess achieved the same result for subsequent pieces in the World Literature section of the IB.

Younger Students

Richard – CE 13+ Scholarship:

Richard was sitting the Eaton 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, Richard’s answers grew confident and his overall performance became faster. Another issue Richard 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.

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

Jeffrey Y – Common Entrance Exam Preparation:

Jeffrey was preparing for various entrance exams and had his heart set on Tunbridge. 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, Jeffrey’s 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 Jeffrey 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 Jeffrey 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.

Jeffrey L – CE13+ English:

Jeffrey struggled with English and was achieving low marks in his comprehensions. His aim was to earn a place at Harrow.

While preparing the compositions, we started from the basics such as reducing the mistakes in the grammar. Jeffrey was not receptive to dogmatic styles of teaching (such as going through and memorising rules) and so we took a trial and error approach. I set Jeffrey a multitude of questions and allowed him to write freely. After, I would circle the mistakes and ask him to figure out the corrections. It was important to develop Jeffrey’s instinctual sense of grammar so that he could grow self-reliant. Later, as he improved, we experimented with more complicated techniques—short sentences to develop suspense, longer sentences to layer descriptions. The aim here was to create a level of sophistication to Jeffrey’s writing that might impress the marker.

Andrew – CE and IGCSE English:

Andrew was very strong academically and the standard 13+ exams posed little challenge. He was not facing entrance exams, but rather, was seeing me to improve his general ability. The main challenges we faced were behavioural rather than academic. Though highly enthusiastic, Andrew was an incredibly impatient student that often lost interest in his work. He rarely planned his writing and would often abandon essays or stories before they reached completion. Early on, I identified that Andrew had a taste for the macabre and so we spent several lessons studying gothic literature and poetry. We looked at short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and poetry by Robert Browning and I would ask him to infer ideas from the structure of the pieces, their use of language and plotting. This engaged his interest and presented him with sufficient intellectual challenge. His focus increased dramatically and he gradually started to prepare for the IGCSE syllabus that he would face in several years time.

Michael – PSAT English:

Michael 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. Michael 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 Michael faced was structure. His essays were often self-contradictory and highly confusing. Knowing that Michael 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.

Tina – CE11+ English:

Tina was a precocious student but struggled with certain aspects of comprehensions. Although she would usually attain full marks in the first set of questions (which asks you to explain aspects of the extract or define certain words) she struggled with any questions that relied on inference. We took a discursive approach to the lessons, I would ask her what certain sentences made her feel and we would explore why. Although we mostly worked from the ISEB, I also provided her with samples from other works to give her a sense of range allowing her to identify what was particular or unusual about certain styles.

Tina’s compositions were good and so we worked on stylization. Again, we focused on how to edit grammar structures to convey meaning. I also focused on her editorial decisions- which aspects of the story or event she chose to include and which should be omitted. A big milestone for Tina was the discovery that stories need not be a strictly factual retelling of events, but should include exaggeration and embellishment; that the examiners indeed expect this.

We also explored and practised the concept of the ‘twist’ at the end of a composition. Ways of catching your reader off guard and making them rethink the previous piece of writing. In one of her best pieces, a descriptive vision of a mountainous wasteland turned out to be little more than the inside of a fridge from the perspective of a trapped housefly.

Aldwin – 11+ Entrance exams:

Aldwin 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 homeworks required him to incorporate what we learned in the lesson into a new piece of writing.

Aldwin did not struggle conceptually with the comprehensions, but rarely achieved full marks. We realized 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.

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