Former teacher Jane's exam tutoring business expands into London
A TORBAY business employing mostly mums has just expanded into London and may be about to go international.
Jane Powell started tutoring at her kitchen table shortly after moving from London in 2005.
She said: "I'm an experienced secondary school teacher, but I realised that with more than 100 applicants for each job, and being on the most expensive salary point, I would just never get a job here.
"I sat down and thought, what am I good at? That has always been an extremely high pass rate in examination classes.
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"With my son about to sit the 11-plus, I realised I could adapt my skills and knowledge to this.
"The 11-plus has a large verbal reasoning component which is just not covered in the classroom.
"I decided to focus teaching this in small groups, and to expand maths and English skills.
"I looked at the needs of each pupil as a whole, in order to improve their skills and confidence all round."
Exam success is also down to exam practice and, in 2008, she booked St Matthias Church Hall for a couple of Saturdays, bought some exam desks and ran a series of mock examinations.
"I started with eight children but word spread and within a couple of months I had more than 20.
"Parents appreciate detailed feedback and the pupils go into the real 11-plus with greater confidence in their own abilities.
"My success rate is excellent and now, with more than 150 children sitting mocks, I have hired two extra halls.
"This year, I have pupils attending from all over Devon, plus some from London, Kent and Bedfordshire."
This meant that Jane could take on other tutors.
"I realised the success of the pupils was down to the proactive way in which I was teaching," she said. "The children had clear goals and were taught how to achieve them.
"I had planned the curriculum carefully and parents were telling me how much their children were improving in school work too.
"I only took on tutors who shared my ideals and hard work ethos; mainly local mums with degrees or teaching qualifications.
"I now have five in Torbay and Teignbridge and I'm looking for more.
"I realise we can never rest on our laurels, however, and I am glad about that as it gives us something to strive for.
"This year, we encouraged our pupils to enter the Chris Evans 500-words story competition on Radio 2.
"One of our tutees was shortlisted out of thousands of entries. It's things like that which make it all more important and fun.
"Over the next few weeks we shall also be trialling new resources for an English text book due to be published early next year.
"The feedback from our tutoring tables in Torbay will influence teaching and we are all very excited."
It doesn't stop here, however.
"When I was back in London recently I was in a café talking so enthusiastically about tutoring that someone came over and asked me to tutor their son," he said. "That was a bit far but I knew someone who could. Now I have two tutors there."
Someone has also contacted her from Abu Dhabi asking the same.
"I'll have to do some research on the schools before I take them up on that one! Maybe I should visit," she said.
For more information contact Jane on 01803 299502, email email@example.com or log on to www.janepowelltutoring. co.uk