- A-Level English (AQA/OCR)
- A-Level Latin (OCR)
- IGCSE/GCSE English Language and Literature (AQA, CIE, Edexcel, Eduqas)
- GCSE Latin (OCR)
- 13+ English, Maths, History (ISEB and public school entrance exams)
- 11+ English, Maths & Reasoning (ISEB and public school entrance exams)
- 10+ (Public school entrance exams)
- 8+ English (public school entrance exams)
- 7+ English (public school entrance exams)
I began tutoring while studying for my Masters in 2013, focusing primarily on GCSE and A-Level Latin, and I found I greatly enjoyed the experience of helping students face the challenges of the language, and their exams, with confidence.
After graduating, I gained more experience as I spent a year working with students on 7+,8+, and 11+ English, while also nannying for a family in West London. Through such work, I enjoyed developing productive relationships with my students and helping them establish strong foundations in grammar and creative writing especially.
As I began my doctoral degree, I continued working with younger students but also branched out into secondary English, working with students from Year 9 - A-Level. In doing so, I relished the opportunities that were presented to engage students with a wide range of rewarding texts, from Dennis Kelly's 'DNA', to Shakespeare's 'Othello'. Such students have flourished - they have won school awards, outperformed predicted GCSE grades and achieved places at first-choice universities.
Outside of tutoring, I also worked as a teacher for the charitable institute, Civitas, from 2016-2018, where I took classes of up to ten Year 3 - 6 children for both English and Maths. In addition to this tutoring and teaching, I have worked as a GCSE English Literature examiner for AQA and found being on the other side of the paper a very helpful experience.
Since joining Keystone in 2018, I have successfully guided primary students through both exams and interviews to places at highly competitive schools including Laytmer Prep, City of London Boys, Alleyn's, Dulwich, King's School Wimbledon, Charterhouse, Rugby, Wellington, Radley, James Allen's Girls School, Wycombe Abbey, Emanuel, Francis Holland and more, at 7+, 8+, 11+ and 13+. I have also worked with numerous GCSE and A Level English students across various exam boards, and Latin students, from beginners all the way through to university students.
I grew up in Guildford, Surrey, and took my GCSEs at St. John's School, Leatherhead. In 2007, I moved to Godalming College for my A-Levels, which I took in Art, English Literature and History, and in which I achieved three As.
While the lure of an Art foundation was strong, I decided instead to combine my humanities interests and I went on, in 2009, to study a four-year Classics degree at the University of Cambridge. As I hadn't studied any classical languages at A-Level, this involved an intensive, but enjoyable, year of pure Latin and Greek before joining everybody on the typical three-year course.
In my final year at Cambridge, I took advantage of the opportunity to sit an English module exam on Shakespeare's tragedies and remembered the fun of literary analysis. After graduating, I moved to London and continued this rekindled interest by studying an MA in English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London, in which I gained merit in 2014.
The following year, I took this interest further still, when I won a scholarship to study a PhD in contemporary American fiction through the University of Hull. From 2015 to 2019, I spent lots of time reading and writing about contemporary American literature, speaking at conferences around Europe and the US and putting together various journal articles. Since successfully defending my PhD, my work has been entirely focussed on professional tutoring with Keystone.
My approach to tutoring is warm and encouraging. Indeed, I believe that building a genuine relationship with a student is of great importance and that the greatest progress is made is by establishing open, honest and authentic dialogues.
Connected to this, I believe that all questions should be cheered. Moments of authentic curiosity, whether about the etymology of a certain spelling word, the political positions of 'An Inspector Calls' or why it's possible to write an essay about a text without necessarily knowing what the author 'means' can both broaden comprehension and introduce challenging new ideas. Flexibly responding to just such enquiries is a big part of my practice, and is something I feel can really help ground or contextualize a subject for a student.
Beyond this, I also believe in illuminating the goals students will be expected to hit by various exam boards. Bringing the assessment objectives and level markers set by the likes of AQA and OCR into the foreground, I have found, helps students understand exactly what is required of them and, consequently, to go after it more effectively and confidently- it is, after all, much easier to hit a target when you can see it!
What I do when I am not tutoring
Outside of tutoring, I am most often reading. Despite my PhD having come to an end, I still like to keep up to date with the state of contemporary American literature, and at some point, may well return to the academy for some post-doctoral study.
When I'm not working or reading, I spend the rest of my time outside, either running, swimming or cycling. I've spent the last few years competing in various triathlons, from Olympic distance events for the GB Age Group team, to long-distance 'Ironman' events.
“We asked Keystone to support our daughters with two tutoring sessions per week to complement virtual schooling during the COVID-19 lockdown. Cameron and James helped enormously, building the girls’ confidence by bridging gaps in maths and strengthening their approach in English. At the girls’ request the tutoring sessions continued through a staycation summer and now, again, in parallel to a new virtual academic school year. Thank you to the Keystone team for the expertise, energy, and making learning fun.” (Parents of Year 5 and 7 students in KSA.)
“We are thrilled with James's tutoring , not just because my son gained a place at the City of London School after the 10+ exam, but because James was instrumental throughout the process of building my son's confidence and skills in comprehension, composition, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, all-important exam techniques…and the academic interview. James built up a wonderful comradery with my son. He had more faith in my son when I was getting stressed and losing sight of the process. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to complete this journey with James.” (Mother of 10+ student).
"My daughter was very happy. She likes him very much. She understood him very well and thought she learnt lots of words for description. He seems very nice and with a very nice approach. So far so good!" (Mother of Year 5 student)
"My son has been invited to King’s, Alleyn’s, Dulwich, Latymer and City of London for the interview! 5 out of 5 exams.He has excelled in the 11+ and great part of his success is because of you. All my friends want to book tutoring with you for their children. You are going to have a lot of work this year!"
"He is exceptional and I have nothing but the highest praise for James's teaching approach and effectiveness." (Mother of Year 5 student)
“My son and James are working hard and he is improving a lot thanks to James´ advice. My son enjoys his lessons with James and having the tutor coming home is not a burden for him but something he looks forward to.” (Mother of 11+ student)
''My son was really happy with his lesson. He got on really well with James, he enjoyed the lesson and I believe he took on board everything James taught him. He is looking forward for the next lesson with him.'' (Mother of year 6 student)
“James is an inspiring, dedicated and creative tutor who produces excellent results by teaching his students how to learn. James brings out the best in my son by engaging him in interesting and demanding lessons regardless of whether he needs remedial assistance or challenges beyond the school curriculum. James's expertise in his subject, his tailored and rigorous teaching and unwavering belief in his students distinguishes him from other tutors.” (Mother of English student)
“James has been tutoring English to our son for nearly a year. Our son has grown in confidence to his approach to English and we have noticed improvements during this time. James is professional, patient, reliable and totally trustworthy in our opinion and makes learning fun.” (Mother of English student)
“James has been tutoring me over the last 10 months in preparation for my A-level English literature exam. During this time I have found his tutoring to be extremely beneficial. His knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject have really helped me to improve on many aspects, in particular, my writing style, ability to analyse language, and understanding of the novels, areas I had previously struggled with. James is always punctual and professional. For each lesson, he prepares a plan based on what we had agreed to go over in the previous lesson. But is flexible and adapts this to what he notices needs improving. With the tasks set James gives clear and concise feedback. He is always patient and understanding when explaining subjects to me and will go over the topics as many times as needed.” (A level student)
“Thank you James for tutoring our eleven year daughter English throughout the summer during COVID-19 lockdown. Reading Shakespeare, Orwell and Dahl, James brought the texts to life, encouraging her to delve deeper for style, form and meaning. He kept it hugely interesting and engaging, and she greatly enjoyed and was inspired by James’ expertise, creativity and upbeat approach. Awesome experience!" (Mother of 11+ student)