Oxbridge tutors are readily available to help our pupils when they need it through our Personal Tutor Support service. We’ve decided to interview Tom Hollins, our Head of Department for English and social sciences, to find out more about his life and what motivated him to work for us.
Tom works as a personal tutor for some of our GCSE and A-level students, as well as taking care of other tutors within the department and writing material for certain courses we run.
Q: So, Tom. Tell us a bit about your early life. Where did you grow up?
“I grew up in a small town in Staffordshire called Uttoxeter where I still live today.
“Uttoxeter is quite famous for its Racecourse and being very close to Alton Towers. We’re very fortunate to live in the countryside surrounded by beautiful natural views.
“I went to school in Uttoxeter and then finally attended university in Derby.”
A Change of Heart
Q: Did you enjoy English in school as a child? When did your passion for the subject begin?
“Well, actually, for a number of years, no! Up until the end of Year 9, I hated it. In fact, at the end of the year, I was predicted to get a D- in GCSE English.
“It wasn’t until I read Of Mice and Men in Year 10 that I truly fell in love with the subject. I became engrossed by the language and technique of John Steinbeck – it was one of my first ‘favourite books’ and still remains a firm favourite to this day.
“I then went on to achieve an A* in English – a result of my hard work and love of subject.”
“I decided to become a tutor quite early on my life.
“I knew I wanted to work in English in some way and I loved working with people and talking to them about English and books. Teaching seemed like a natural choice!”
Q: Scoring in the top 0.5% of the population for your academic studies, it’s fair to say that
you’re somewhat of a prodigy. To what do you attribute your success?
“There’s no real secret - it’s just lots of hard work and a love and enthusiasm for my subject. Throughout my studies, I always went above and beyond in my work for my qualifications, reading around my subject and making sure I was an expert in the content!”
Tom puts the same level of dedication into tutoring his students as he did into his own studies.
Q: Being Head of English at the age of 21 is kind of a big deal. Could you tell us a little bit about what your position involves?
“My position involves a variety of things! I’ll be looking after a range of subjects within the realm of English, Humanities and Social Sciences. I’ll also still be doing what I love: working with students and supporting their learning. We’re also hoping to expand our offer to students and provide some live lessons to help support them even further!”
Impressive as Tom’s dedication towards his tutoring role is, it’s not his only achievement.
Q: You’ve also published two books to help support A-level English students. Could you tell us a little bit about them? What inspired you? What did you hope to achieve?
“My books are one of my proudest achievements. The first supports A-level English Language and the second, A-level English Literature. There isn’t much support out there for A-level English, so I wanted to support students in their revision and work for their qualifications. I wrote them because I wanted to share my subject expertise in English with students all over the country (and world!).”
An Authentic Career Move
Q: At what point did you decide you’d like to become a teacher/tutor?
“I decided quite early on in my life – I knew I wanted to work in English in some way and I loved working with people and talking to them about English and books. Teaching seemed like a natural choice!”
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your role?
“I love speaking with students about my subject. I really enjoy reading students’ ideas about language and literature in their assignments and helping them progress in their writing.”
Q: We’d love to know a little bit more about you outside of work. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
“I have a beautiful Springer Spaniel called Milo who I love to walk. Living in the countryside means that there are lots of scenic walks near me to enjoy. As an English specialist, I also love reading - I’ve always got a book on the go! I’m also a big fan of theatre and enjoy visiting the West End on a regular basis.”
Support is Always Near
Q: What advice would you give to students who are struggling with a particular topic?
“Always ask for help! Your tutors are experts in their field - it’s always worth dropping them an email to get some extra support. We love to help you.”
Q: Do you have a message for students who might be wondering if studying English through online learning is right for them?
“I cannot recommend studying English online enough. You have the independence of studying when it suits you whilst knowing you’re still being supported every step of the way.“
Thinking of studying online? Browse our range of courses, or speak to one of our learning advisers on 0121 630 3000.