Tutor Spotlight: Neil Dawson

Neil Dawson has previous experience of teaching undergraduates at King’s College London as well as being a private tutor for GCSE, A-Level, undergraduate and postgraduate students. On Friday afternoons, you’ll find Neil nestled in Chelsea Academy’s vibrant library supporting six Year 11 pupils to think outside the box with their GCSE History.

Prior to the lesson he had set clear learning objectives for the session:

  • 1. Develop knowledge and understanding of the impact of the NHS on medicine and public health in Britain
  • 2. Analyse and evaluate the main priorities for public health in Britain today

The pupils had come prepared with some discussions around obesity and alcohol abuse with a particular emphasis on how this impacts the NHS. Neil took good care to allow pupils to take autonomy in their learning and to challenge each other, only interjecting when arguments needed to be tightened or additional information required scaffolding.

Neil’s approach to tutoring has also been very well received and he has an excellent rapport with the school’s senior leadership team. At the end of last term, we asked the school whether they would like to carry on with Neil and were told “Very much so. The students and parents seem very happy”. We wish Neil, his students and the school the very best in the final few weeks run up to GCSEs.

Questions for Neil
Can you share some information about how you got into tutoring?

I got into tutoring whilst studying for my PhD. I needed to supplement my income and find something that was flexible at the same time. Tutoring fitted this criteria, but once I started I found it to be very stimulating and rewarding and so have kept it up ever since.

How did you make the leap into working with tutoring within schools?

I was on the look out to gain some experience working as a tutor in schools, mainly because I wanted a new challenge and was interested in seeing if working in a school would be something I would like to pursue long-term. I received an email advertising for a History Tutor at Chelsea Academy, applied for the position and fortunately got the role.

What is your approach to tutoring? Can you give us any insights into how you prepared to work effectively in Chelsea Academy?

Obviously it is essential to well-prepared and know your stuff. But otherwise I think it is important to approach tutoring reflectively and critically, thinking about what worked, what didn’t and how might things be improved in the future. I also believe it is important to challenge students and actively encourage and praise them whenever it is warranted. I have adopted this approach for Chelsea Academy and feel it has worked well.

What do you think works particularly well with pupils?

Class debates seem to work particularly well with pupils. This is perhaps due to their challenging nature – you’re trying to win an historical argument. I’m often surprised at the depth of thought and analysis the pupils at Chelsea Academy bring to these.

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