- 7+/8+ public school entrance exams
- 11+ ISEB pre-test and public school entrance exams (including verbal and non-verbal reasoning)
- 13+ public school entrance exams
- (I)GCSE Language and Literature (OCR, WJEC, AQA, Edexcel, CIE)
- IB Middle Years Programme
- 16+ public school entrance exams
- 7+/8+ public school entrance exams
- 11+ ISEB and public school entrance exams (including verbal and non-verbal reasoning)
- 13+ public school entrance exams
- 13+ French public school entrance exams
- (I)GCSE Spanish (OCR, WJEC, AQA, Edexcel, CIE)
- (I)GCSE French (OCR, WJEC, AQA, Edexcel, CIE)
- 16+ Spanish public school entrance exams
- IB Spanish Middle Years Programme
- A-Level Spanish (OCR, WJEC, AQA, Edexcel, CIE)
- IB Spanish Diploma Programme
- Undergraduate Spanish
- Residential placements
Having worked as a private tutor since 2008, both face-to-face and online, I have seen first-hand a great deal of what tutoring has to offer, both in terms of challenge and reward, for student and tutor alike. I have a vast number of hours of teaching under my belt and feel confident that, after such extensive exposure to the practice, I am well-placed to both assess and work with students of any academic level and background, regardless of starting point and/or objective.
My years of teaching have principally taught me one thing about the tutoring experience as a whole: expect everything.
Raised on the border of Surrey and Hampshire, I grew up in and around leafy Haslemere, attending Haslemere Heights Preparatory School before then going on to Bedales School in Petersfield for my GCSEs and A-Levels.
After completing my A-Levels in French, Spanish and Physics (with an AS-Level in Design and Technology: Systems and Control), I went to King’s College London to study Spanish with Linguistics. As part of my undergraduate studies I spent a year abroad on the Spanish-language Humanities course at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, where I was given the chance to broaden my academic horizons enormously (studying Theory of Law, Art History, Anthropology, Semiotics and Iberian History, to name just a few subject areas) before returning to London to achieve an Upper Second Class honours degree at the end of the academic year 2007/2008.
In September of 2008, I began work as a tutor in London with three placements: Literacy and Numeracy with an 8-year-old SEN learner, Literacy and English with a 13-year-old student from Lithuania and IB MYP Spanish with a brother and sister at Southbank International School. My tutoring work grew as I branched out into new teaching areas, including several years with an online English-language teaching platform, where I worked with a range of students, from high-end corporate learners with an eye on business English, via independent learners looking for self-development, to schools in the private French system, where I delivered year-long courses and bespoke assessments to full French classrooms in the 11-13 years age range.
After my first few years of tutoring, I decided that I would pursue a PGCE in teaching Secondary School Languages at the Institute of Education, London, where I was offered an unconditional place to study after spending an Easter term working at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School in Hertfordshire. My time spent at HABS taught me two things: 1) what lesson preparation is really all about (namely, adaptability), and 2) that I really much preferred teaching in a one-on-one environment. I withdrew my acceptance of the place at the Institute of Education and threw myself even further into tutoring, joining Keystone in the summer of 2011.
Since working with Keystone, I have taken up placements in varying subjects both across London and the U.K., as well as teaching opportunities abroad, including a long-running professional relationship with a specialised international primary school in Geneva, with whom I worked for a number of years both in-class with their students (online and face-to-face) and with the other members of senior staff in the development of their English-language curricula.
In 2014, after many years spent navigating the world of tutoring almost completely by myself, I joined Keystone’s ranks of professional tutors, where I have been enjoying and benefitting from their expertise ever since, honing my craft and focusing down on my three specialist areas of instruction: English, Maths and Spanish. In recent years, I have also joined Keystone's core team of Professional Tutor Trainers, where I myself have grown enormously as a tutor through the development and delivery of extensive and bespoke training programmes and reflection sessions for my Professional Tutor peers. This work, alongside marking and writing hundreds of Keystone Assessments and Reports across 9+, 10+, 11+, 12+, 13+, 14+ and 16+ age ranges, has sharpened my craft immeasurably and has made even clearer to me a truth shared with me in my first weeks as a tutor: there is simply always more to learn.
Whilst carefully cultivating my expertise as a tutor, I have also completed a part-time, two-year MA in Screenwriting at London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, where I graduated in 2016 with the cohort’s highest distinction, having explored in my second-year major work the area of Womanhood in Contemporary Afghanistan. Screenwriting continues to be a part of my daily life, most notably in the world of short films, where my work has garnered millions of views online and has picked up numerous awards at international film festivals across the years.
In the summer of 2017, I left London for the rolling mountains of County Wicklow, Ireland, from where I now teach exclusively online (with the occasional residential trip abroad for a much-needed top-up of Vitamin D!).
My blog posts
01/12/2020: How Effective Is Online Tutoring? A Parent’s Guide
28/04/2015: Online Revision Resources
The relationship is key for me. I have found that without a trusting base upon which to build, progress is very slow. I put a great deal of effort into ensuring that atmosphere and approach are calm and open with the ultimate aim of high-intensity, low-pressure learning. I have for all of my students very high expectations and want them to work hard for whatever it is they are looking for, be it entry into one of London's top independent schools or a necessary Grade 4 Pass (previously Grade C) in GCSE Foundation Maths. For me, goals are set to be achieved, not to be wondered after.
After first meeting a student, I will make a thorough assessment of what I believe they need most from me, which could be anything from simple organisational instruction through to exam tricks and techniques, but it is with confidence that I feel I do my best work: those expectations that I hold dictate that I believe in all of my students entirely and wholeheartedly and, as such, mean that I will push the people I work with into expressing themselves as faithfully and as completely as possible at all times. For me, the confidence is always there; sometimes it just needs teasing out.
I use a great variety of resources in my work, pooling materials and teaching aids from every corner of every year of my teaching journey to date. Online I use videoconferencing software and innovative interactive whiteboards to replicate as faithfully as I can the traditional classroom experience, although pen and pencil (and highlighter, fineliner, ruler and rubber) will forever rule the writing roost.
Regarding test-specific preparation, I feel the 11+ public school entrance exams (including the ISEB pre-test, the Eton List Test, the Harrow Test, etc.) are unique in their training demands and so require an equally unique training approach: deep knowledge of the Maths and English curricula are essential (with great emphasis placed on problem-solving in Maths and on comprehension, grammar and cloze procedure in English), as is finding that ‘sweet spot’ between pace and accuracy, where students are able to self-navigate large amounts of material in appropriately quick periods of time. These tests in Year 6 (or Year 7, in the case of the Harrow Test) are highly competitive and place tremendous demands on applicants: my students’ successes on this front in recent years point to an approach that appears to be working.
What I do when I am not tutoring
When not tutoring, I spend most of my time developing ideas for feature film scripts. I have written across a number of themes and topic areas (from 21st-century noir or drama on the football terraces to Kabul family politics or fables for the apocalypse) and am rarely found without my head in some piece of story research or another.
Outside of writing, I am a keen sportsman (boxing, running, cycling and scuba-diving), musician (I play the drums in a local covers band up in the Wicklow Mountains, led by a female vocalist) and cook (zero qualifiers here, but I pour my heart into everything I throw together, Sunday-morning ham-and-cheese toasties in particular), and also enjoy regular trips to the cinema and theatre. I am also currently learning both how to play chess and speak Catalan, though not at the same time just yet.
And I travel. I am married to a woman from Argentina and our life together seems to be one long adventure: we spend a few months of each year in Buenos Aires and visit regularly with friends and family across Europe. Escaping one life in order to dive into another, however temporarily, is a treat I have yet to tire of.
‘’We were delighted with our first lesson with Alex. He’s clearly a very strong tutor and he quickly bonded with our son, who said after the lesson he had had lots of fun despite working hard. Alex is so good we may, if possible, keep him on for school work once a week.’’ (Mother of year 6 student)
''My son has very much enjoyed his sessions with Alex and I have been very impressed with the Keystone online platform. We look forward to the summer sessions with Alex.'' (Eton pre-test applicant from Singapore)
''We are delighted to say that our daughter has been offered a place at her chosen school! Alex played a huge role in this. Before she started working with Alex, she had resigned herself to being 'bad at Maths' and she was in the 4th Maths set at school. By the time of the exam she was scoring 80% in ISEB test papers. We also asked Alex to help with preparation for the two English exams. Although these were stronger subjects for my daughter Alex was able to make significant progress with her marks by teaching her about exam technique. I think Alex's biggest skill was creating a rapport as it must be very hard to build trust over Skype - but he did it. She really trusted his feedback and listened to his suggestions. He was also well prepared for each session and he was very responsive to email requests from me. I would not hesitate to recommend Keystone and Alex to anyone. It was one of the best educational decisions we have made.'' (Mother of online 11+ student)
''Alex is a fantastic tutor and can cover different subjects which makes his tutoring very flexible which suits our needs. The children like him and respond well to his teaching'' (Mother of Keystone Student)
''Alex is very professional in his work and seems to have a natural gift to making math enjoyable'' (Mother of Keystone Tutor)
''Alex is brilliant. He is in tune with my daughter. We feel it is money well spent!'' (Mother of Keystone Tutor)
‘'Alex is brilliant, he has been tutoring our daughter for a year now, primarily to give her confidence, which he achieves, especially in Maths. Alex really works with the parent, which is very important and when there are areas of concern, these are always addressed.’’ (Mother of Year 4 student)