Rebecca Dowell Tuition

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Rebecca Dowell BSc (Hons) ABPI CIPD CELTA

Private Tutor in Sciences and Mathematics, Key Stage 2 to A-Level.


Based in Exeter, Devon



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The World of Becky the Tutor...

Welcome to my blog


Musings, news, updated suggestions for resources and exciting first look at 'top up courses'. Subscribe to the blog to stay updated, and all comments are welcome!

By rebeccadowell, Apr 15 2019 04:10PM

In September 2017 I started working with Madi, a year 10 student. Maths was never her favourite subject, and she was struggling with a lack of continuity in teaching at her school – always a worry during GCSE courses, as the constant trail of supply teachers mean lots of topics being ‘re-hashed’, and the more complex topics getting ignored!

We created our own plan in year ten, which supported the topics she was doing in class, but set our own agenda in covering material that was being neglected, including blitzing the entire algebra topic.

In year 11 we continued with our plan, helped by Madi having a regular teacher for maths again. We did have some tricky moments – in November Madi was disappointed with her prelim results. However, it was clear to both her class teacher and myself that she was on the cusp on something fantastic – she just needed some tiny adjustments in her methods, and her grade was going to jump.

Rather than being despondent for long, Madi threw herself into some really focused revision. Our sessions were brilliant – she came with her weekly hit list, and we tackled each one in turn. The independent work she was doing was also great to see – she pushed herself through the different levels until she was tackling level 7 and 8 questions (and the odd topic from level 9) with confidence.

Fast forward to her most recent test – it was big smiles all round as Madi achieved a Level 8 - the most fantastic way to finish her last set of assessed papers before the real exams in June. Not bad for someone who 6 months ago was aiming for a Level 4! Madi – you’ve been an absolute superstar – I cant wait to celebrate your success in August!

By rebeccadowell, Feb 14 2019 11:28AM

As the daffodils start to creak open in the garden, spring feels just around the corner! I've taken the opportunity to brighten up the classroom for the new year, and I'm thrilled with the results!

A larger table means working with small groups is going to be easier, and new furniture has brightened up the place no end! Feedback from the students has been thoroughly positive, with the most positive comments about my new periodic table window panel - no more searching through textbooks for it...

Here's a pic of the new classroom in all its glory! Publicity photo was for the Exeter Living Awards which will be announced on 7th March... my fingers are firmly crossed!

By rebeccadowell, Jan 24 2019 11:04AM

So thrilled to announce that I have been shortlisted as a finalist for the Education Category for the Exeter Living Awards!

After 10 years of providing private tuition in Exeter, it is so lovely to receive this accolade, and I couldnt be happier! Other finalists include Exeter Cathedral School, Exeter Tutors and Exeter Mathematics School - so I have some seriously tough competition.

The winners will be announced at the Exeter Living Awards Dinner on 7th March, which is going to be a very exciting evening! I will update again when the results are announced, but in the meantime I'll stick with doing what I do best - inspiring my students to acheive great things in their exams this summer!

By rebeccadowell, Jan 18 2019 01:00PM

I've just had a rather lovely email, and I thought I'd share a student's story.

'L' came to me in November for some targeted help preparing for her GCSE maths retake. Having to retake any exam is psychologically tough, but maths GCSE is particularly hard, as students have often had a long summer break, followed by the challenges of transitioning to A level studies.

When I met 'L' it was clear how hard she'd been working, and she came armed with a list of topics she'd been struggling with. It's great when students do this, as we can take a really focussed approach, and usually see results quickly! Over 4 sessions we tackled her list, plus a few other topics that emerged during our sessions, and she went into her exams feeling more confident in her abilities.

Today I received an email confirming that she has now achieved her hard-won Level 4 grade - fantastic news for 'L' who can now enjoy her A level studies without the spectre of maths GCSE looming over her head! So proud of you....!

By rebeccadowell, Jan 17 2019 01:18PM

'What's it like being a full time private tutor?' is a question I'm often asked, especially by colleagues teaching in mainstream schools. My answer? It's amazing. I'm so lucky. I work with the most motivated of students, who genuinely want to learn, and I get to spend sufficient 1:1 time with them to really watch them grow and thrive!

I thought I'd give you a sneak peak into a day in my world...

My day begins with a bit of admin - replying to a couple of emails, returning some calls, while the kettle boils! Morning lessons in term time tend to be with the 'post 16' students, who schedule their lessons for during their free periods as my classroom in Heavitree is so handy for Exeter School, The Maynard and the Tutorial College. Today's morning lessons have involved delving into organic reaction mechanisms with an A level chemist, and some MMI tasks to help a potential medical student prepare for her latest University interview. We had a good giggle during some role play exercises, mostly at my terrible acting skills!

It's a sunny day so I pop down to The Daisy Cafe in Heavitree at lunchtime for a cup of coffee - its great to get out of the classroom for a bit so I take my laptop and do a little bit of planning for a revision skills seminar in February. I hold these workshops every year, but I always like to refresh the material - I'm always discovering new ways of revising throughout the year and its great to pass that on to my students! I also return a couple of calls, add a new student to the waiting list for a slot in half term and plan some resources for this afternoon's lessons.

Then it's home for a meeting with a new potential student. She's an A level biologist who's just had a disappointing mock exam grade. From chatting to her its clear that she's got a great subject knowledge, and it's the exam technique that's the barrier to her grade improving. We assess her learning style, and it emerges that she's a Kinaesthetic learner - now I know that, I can tailor the way we work together in future sessions to make sure she gets the greatest benefits! Luckily her free periods and the gaps in my diary line up perfectly, so she's booked in for a regular weekly slot.

After school lessons tend to be filled by younger students, and today is no exception. Today's evening session runs from 4pm to 9.30pm, and includes a pair of year 8 students who I've worked with since primary school, and a handful of GCSE students. The subjects today will involve all 3 sciences and maths, but for the GCSE students the lessons are totally learner centred - they arrive with a topic, and we tackle it. Usually an hour later they've cracked it, created some materials that they can revise from and practiced some exam questions on the topic. They end the session feeling confident that they'll be ahead of the curve in their next lesson at school, which is a great feeling for me!

My day ends at 9.30, leaving me tired but smiling. One of the greatest things in my job is its variety - today has been hectic but tomorrow looks a little calmer! But who knows what surprises and challenges the day will bring!

By rebeccadowell, Nov 14 2018 01:00AM

If only it were that simple!

Personal statement season is upon us once again, and I'm enjoying reading some drafts and suggesting edits. It amazes me the skills that my students can (quite rightly) brag about, from Olympic swim training to fluency in 3 or 4 languages, quite apart from their academic prowess! Your personal statement should be a window into the 'amazing-ness' that is YOU! In more and more cases most decisions to interview are based on personal statements, so this is your chance to shine.

A question I'm often asked is about the correct structure for a personal statement, quite apart from the 47 line and 4000 character limit imposed by UCAS. My thoughts on this are as follows.

Section 1 - why are you applying for this course? What inspires you? What aspects of your A Level studies have led you to this decision?

Section 2 - how have you demonstrated this passion? Is it work experience? Travels and experiences? Extra curricular activites?

Section 3 - why are you so awesome? Think about some buzz words they'll be looking for, and demonstrate why that word applies to you? Motivated? Enthusiastic? Independant? Logical? Team player?

Section 4 - what are your dreams? What doors will this degree course open for you?

And a word to the wise... if you're going to mention subject areas, articles that fired your enthusiasm, or lectures you've attended, be prepared to answer questions about them in your interview! Dont make wild claims about symposia about genetic diseases, for example, if you cant back it up with some detailed information when questioned!

For any more help, advice or proof reading, drop me a line!

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