• 11+ English, Science, Maths: ISEB and public school entrance exams (including pre-tests)
• 13+ English, Science, Maths: ISEB and public school entrance exams
• (I)GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics: Edexcel, CIE, OCR and AQA
• (I)GCSE English: English Lit and English Language for Edexcel and AQA
• A-level English: English Lit for Edexcel
After studying Biology, Chemistry and English at A level at Benenden, I went on to study Zoology at Bristol University where I gained a BSc 2:1. I have always had a particular interest in apes, and worked with chimpanzees and other primates during my school holidays. Upon completing my degree, I studied fine art in Italy, followed by nine months in Zambia working with chimpanzees. I have worked as both a journalist and a financial PR consultant in the life sciences sector. I turned to tutoring seven years ago when I decided to leave full-time work to write a novel. Tutoring has proved to be both stimulating and rewarding, and a good balance to the solitary profession of writing. I plan to continue to divide my time between writing and tutoring for the foreseeable future.
Having tutored a great number of students over the years, in both long-term and concentrated exam revision situations, I have found that each of them learns and makes sense of their subjects in particular ways. As such, I always try to match my teaching style with the learning style of my student. I consider myself patient yet energetic, and am not averse to using games and memory techniques to enhance learning.
At school, I was fortunate to be taught by excellent Science teachers who developed my interest in the Sciences and the natural world. Sadly, the most common complaint that I receive from Science students today is that they cannot connect with their Science teachers, or that they fail to see the relevance of the Sciences to their lives. My approach to Science tutoring is to break down these barriers. Science can be both fun and interesting; the common confusions that I come across are so easily unravelled. My time as a journalist and life sciences PR consultant have helped me to develop my ability to summarize large amounts of complex information into simple, easily digestible facts, which is key to success in Science examinations. One of the main reasons that so many students struggle with the Sciences is that they are not taught exam technique or lateral thinking. I make it a priority to focus on these key tools, and I know that this approach works: every Science student that I have tutored has raised their standard by at least a grade. I get as much pleasure from helping an A grade student achieve the A* grade that they need to study medicine as I do from helping the D grade student achieve what once seemed an impossible B.
My approach to tutoring English is spirited and systematic. My first priority is to ensure that the foundations of the language are well established: I take a rigorous approach to grammar and sentence construction. Far from finding this traditional approach tedious, my pupils report how satisfying it is to master the rudiments of the English language, and therefore to be able to express themselves. Once the foundations have been laid, I encourage a comprehensive reading and writing programme. Further to this, I encourage my students to develop their own individual feel for language, and assist them in exploring their own ideas, without stifling their natural creativity. I choose as texts the masters of the English language, using them as models for my students’ own creative writing. By so doing, and in conjunction with a wide range of past examination questions, I also prepare my pupils for entrance and national examinations at 11+, 13+ and GCSE.
In terms of pre-tests, I recommend building up a thorough knowledge of the 11+ Maths and English syllabus and focussing as much as possible on comprehension, grammar and cloze procedure and mental arithmetic and word problems. I use a variety of activities to target the time pressured nature of the tests and problem solving.
What I do when I am not tutoring
When I am not tutoring I can usually be found in The London Library, where I am working on my second novel (my first novel ''The Brittle Star'' was published by Sceptre in February 2017). Despite seeing many mediocre plays, I have never lost the sense of wonder at the theatre, and try to go as often as I can. Occasionally I draw or paint, and I take every opportunity to speak the enthusiastic but grammatically incorrect Italian that I learnt when I was at art school in Florence. Sadly the great apes are no longer a part of my life; these days, I content myself with walking dogs and riding horses whenever I can.
"We used Davina to help our son with his GCSE revision. Davina's strength lies in her careful planning of her sessions to make sure everything needed is covered and made clear with lots of tips to help with revision, she really helped our son nail his science GCSEs with A* in all 3." (Mother of GCSE student)
I just want to add that the lessons have been very helpful and I'm very grateful for the time and effort you have put into teaching me, so thank you, again.
Thank you so much for all your patience this year tutoring my daughter. It has been tremendously helpful!
I want to thank you so much for tutoring me this whole time, I feel my English has improved immensely since our first lesson almost three years ago. I don't think I could have achieved this without your help.
My daughter did really well. Thank you for all your help. She was delighted with her science results.
You have been a complete superstar, truly thank YOU, our son ended up
enjoying Biology which is something I never thought I'd write!
Your kindness and encouragement resulted in him going into the exam feeling
very positive. We really can't thank you enough for everything.
My daughter is very happy with Davina. She is sympathetic and understanding and has a very clear teaching style. She is particularly pleased with Davina's notes which she says are concise and to the point and take the fear out of chemistry." (Mother of GCSE Chemistry student)
"My daughter is just about to complete her first half term covering the IB syllabus. The improvement in her marks for English has been impressive and she has now elected to study English at higher level for IB, a decision she made over the holidays. Her English mark is currently her highest - equivalent to an A*. I credit the work she did over the summer with Davina as the source of her newfound enthusiasm for the subject, which is lovely to see. We hope you can let Davina know on our behalf how well she is doing and how impressed we are." (Mother of IB English student)
'The girls so enjoy their lessons with Davina . They always think she gives such 'turbocharged' sessions.' (Mother of A Level Science students)
"The boys are very happy with Davina. She is a very good teacher and explains things really well. They enjoy the lessons and say they are very energetic. They have been given homework which they are already enjoying doing, which is very surprising because I expected to have to ask them to complete homework each day but they are doing it before I have to say anything or remind them! They are very motivated! My first impression of Davina is great, she is very disciplined and helpful. I'm very happy she gets along very well with the children." (Mother of Y6 and Y4 students)
''Davina helped William enormously through online lessons in the six months prior to his IGCSEs. She focused on problem areas in both chemistry, physics and biology, and provided thorough notes after each lesson which were very useful for revision. His weekly sessions with Davina were a great confidence boost and helped him secure an A* for biology and As for both chemistry and physics - thank you Davina.'' ~ Mother, Tokyo
''Davina has been working with my clients for the last three years, and I would not hesitate to refer to her as one of my star tutors. She understands how to explain a subject to students, and helps them to develop excellent revision strategies. An excellent tutor, I would recommend her to anyone who wants their child to deepen their knowledge of a subject and develop good learning habits.'' ~ Director, Educational Consultancy and School Placement Service
''Davina tutored both my children through IGCSE Sciences and A level English and did a quite outstanding job. Without her, I have no doubt they would have been markedly less successful in their exams. She has become hugely in demand by many friends and has without exception produced significantly better results for their children at all levels.'' ~ Father, Fulham
''Davina is an engaging, interesting and funny tutor who helped me through my IGCSEs and inspired me to study English for A-Level. She is very well organised and always has an interesting spin on the book I am studying. Her explanations are clear, her notes are easy to learn from and she is very patient. I would definitely recommend Davina.'' ~ A-Level student, Holland Park
''Davina tutored me for both GCSE and A-level English. I would recommend Davina to anyone and everyone of any standard or ability. I have no doubt that I would not be going to Bristol University this September if it was not for her help and tutelage.'' ~ A-Level student, Wandsworth
''Davina is an outstanding tutor. After disappointing science mocks in which I got 30% I started weekly lessons with Davina. For my common entrance my marks had improved to 70% and above in all three sciences. I recommend her to anyone who is struggling with science.'' ~ 12-year-old student, Dulwich