Tutoring Details

I enjoy helping with Maths (also working on self confidence and problem-solving skills at the same time)

You are welcome to contact me at drduncanjames@gmail.com and I will reply as soon as I can.

My name is Dr Duncan James and I tutor/coach Maths all over the world. I spend a smidgen more of my time in Canford Cliffs, Poole, Dorset than anywhere else, hence the website name.

My goal is making Maths easier for all levels. I have helped students:- pass Entrance Exams with distinction; get the grade they really need for College or University; achieve a crucial C grade for future job prospects; minimise the effort to get A* grades at GCSE, iGCSE and A-Level to free up revision time for other subjects. Whatever your level, I will improve your performance.

Online and home-visit tutorials

  • First tutorial guarantee: there is no charge if the first session does not work out for any reason.
  • Tutoring is done with a mixture of home-visit tutorials, online tutorials and tailored homework. I offer effective support with the whole syllabus and importantly also with how to do effective self-study.
  • The tutorials focus on using a few skills to answer any question. This gives less to remember and improved confidence due to the greater repetition.

My “mission statement” is to give my students:

  • More confidence.
  • Improved exam results.
  • Life-long improvements in mathematical understanding.
  • Life-long improvements in problem-solving skills.

General information

  • How much? £50 an hour home-visit (for an hour) and £40 online (for 55 minutes).
  • How do I pay? If it is a home-visit you can pay me in person. Alternatively, you can pay by bank transfer, bitcoin or we can work out a different way.
  • When? Flexible including weekday evenings and weekends.
  • Where? Home visits possible depending on where I am at the moment. This might be the Canford Cliffs area of Poole (Dorset, England) or might be somewhere else.
  • Online? If you want online tutorials all you need is a computer and an internet connection!
  • Which exams? I tutor regularly for many exams including Canford Scholarship and Entrance Exams, Grammar School Entrance, Foundation GCSE, Higher GCSE, iGCSE, AS-Level, A-Level.
  • How? Every student is different and so every tutorial is different. I believe my job is to find unique ways to bring the best out of every student.

I enjoy supporting in these two situations:

  • (1) Tutoring for maybe 2 to 10 tutorials and then continuing with more occasional lessons. I am keen to do this if this is important for the student (and not just the parent). This can work well for any age of student, with occasional tutorials becoming an option when the student is finding something difficult or just wants to improve a bit.
  • (2) Just a few tutorials (preferably at least 2) before an exam can help relieve pressure during revision-time.

My approach is fundamentally about (1) making the tutorials fun and relaxed and (2) giving the student long-term maths and study skills (which naturally includes building confidence) so I am not needed after a while. Successful people are often smiling, happy and relaxed even in the face of problems: my maths tutorials encourage this. If you want further insight into my positive approach to learning maths you might look at some of my maths videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/drduncanjames which I think demonstrate my very simple and effective approach to learning maths.

A bit more information about me: I have experience of researching, teaching and marking exam papers in Maths and Science. In 1995 I completed my first degree in Physics. In 1999 I completed my PhD which included a mathematical treatment of acoustic scattering new to science. Prior to that I gained awards for Maths throughout my studies including winning the Maths Cup at a large secondary school. I often scored 100% in Maths tests/exams and now share the secrets of my success with my students. I enjoy working as a Maths Tutor and have a track-record of supporting students through their studies. Note, I always recommend telling the student that it is just a “try-out” and that they can decide whether to carry on with the tutoring after a couple of sessions.

Feedback from students/parents:-

  • “Hi Duncan For the first time I have heard Karen say she enjoys maths! … Thank you” (Karen, GCSE Higher)
  • “Thank you Duncan, I met Mike’s teachers last night and his maths teacher was very pleased with him. She said that he is happy and communicating well in class, that what he is doing is good and to keep it up. So well done and thank you so much. Best wishes, Josephine” (Mike, GCSE Higher)
  • “Duncan helped to teach me the statistics section of my A2 psychology course. Maths is something I have always struggled with, but as a result of Duncan’s contributions, I actually found the statistics part of the exam to be a doddle! Every question had been covered in our lessons in great depth and I felt confident with every aspect of the statistics section. I never thought I’d say this, but Maths surprisingly became quite good fun in Duncan’s lessons! He tailored his teaching methods to my specific way of learning and thought of creative and innovative ways for me to remember the material. He really went the extra mile! I am very grateful for his patience and would highly recommend Duncan to anyone studying mathematics or statistics.” (Sam, A-Level Psychology Maths help)
  • “Great day… She was delighted to get A* MATHS xx her words today “it was the weird questions that Duncan helped me with that pushed the mark up.” (Hazel, GCSE)
  • “I just wanted to let you know that James got an A in maths which we are delighted with. Thank you so much for your help; you have completely changed his perception of Maths.” (James, GCSE)
  • “Darren got an A and a B in Maths and Physics. He has got to his first choice university. Thanks for helping him.” (Darren, A-Levels)
  • “Thanks for all your help and the boost to her confidence.” (Emma, AS-Level Maths)
  • “She is so confident now and feels completely differently about Maths. Thank you for your thoughtful and caring approach.” (Hazel, first year of GCSEs)
  • “Laura got A in maths! Thanks to u for your support, that was impressive work! Xxx” (Laura, GCSE Maths, significant improvement that required almost an A* grade in the final exam after previous results)
  • “Hey Duncan its Sian thank you so much for the tutoring I got the A I wanted so thank you very much! Xxx” (Sian, GCSE Maths)
  • “I got a B in Physics. I’m really really over the moon considering that I got an E in Unit 4. I just wanted to say thank you so much. I couldn’t have done it without you.” (Adrian, A Level Physics)
  • “I beat almost every one in the set above me in the progress exam. I am basically guaranteed to go up a set soon.” (Gareth, doing first year of GCSEs)
  • “We don’t know how you did it but she is a completely different person with Maths now.” (Ali, KS3 booster sessions)
  • “I have just had my results back and you have raised me from a D to an A.” (Adrian, AS Level Physics)
  • “Dear Duncan, Thank you so much for everything, you are an amazing tutor and I feel I have improved so much. Thank you for your support. Lots of love, Lisa xxx” (Lisa, GCSE Maths)
  • “We just tried out two tutors to see which one Sian would prefer. When we asked her for her opinion she instantly said she wanted you. She simply said that she could understand you and that this was not the case with the other tutor nor with any of her Maths teachers at school.” (Sian, KS3 booster sessions)
  • “Thank you very much for all of the knowledge you put in my nogin. Hands down the best teacher I ever had.” (Kay, GCSE Maths)
  • “Teresa got an A for her Chemistry!!!! Thank You!!!!!!” (Teresa, GCSE Science)
  • “In class the teacher just gives me difficult questions and then gets me to help the other students. I was struggling before. I’m now about to go up two sets. Thank you.” (Kerry, GCSE year 1)
  • “I got an unconditional place to Canford and in the letter they sent back they said I did exceptionally well in the Maths exam. So, thank you very much for all your preparation and help.” (Tim, Canford Scholarship Exam)
  • “Duncan had tutored my son for A level Maths and Physics over two years. His patient approach improved his confidence enormously. The resulting improvement means that he is now happily at his first choice university studying chemistry.” (Toby, A-Level Maths and Physics)

Things I am happy to tutor:-

You are welcome to contact me directly for more information. My specialist subject is Maths… I am able to coach a student up to A* at A-level for this. Note, I can also give help for science subjects (including Physics up to A-Level).

  • Maths: 11 plus and Common Entrance Exams (including Grammar School entrance and Canford Scholarship)
  • Maths: Foundation GCSE
  • Maths: Higher GCSE
  • Maths: International Baccalaureate
  • Maths: AS-Level
  • Maths: A-Level
  • Physics: up to and including A-Level
  • Chemistry: up to and including GCSE
  • Biology: up to and including GCSE

Maths and Science are special subjects:

Research has shown that these are subjects where tutoring can have a measureable impact on exam performance (ref: research at the Institute of Education). Normally I start a tutorial with a “warm-up” drilling basic skills through repetition (focussing on the student’s weaknesses) using exercises specially written for the session. These warm-ups can last the whole lesson initially as we focus on basic skills for initial exam-performance gains. Note, this is one of the reasons my tutoring is such good value: I write all of these warmups so that they are tuned to exactly the level of the student. Personalised questions means that confidence and skills grow faster: good confidence and basic skills means that the student can then start working through longer questions…

These longer questions are either chosen by the student (which helps to make them feel empowered) or I choose for them if I feel something is particularly important. I do not (generally) act as “expert” during these sessions…

…instead I share good exam technique and skills and we work as a team. This means they are learning that improved Maths performance is a learnable skill and not something magic: very important. Generally, if they can do something I’ll either say “great, lets skip this and move onto the next thing”. Note, I rarely say the thing that I’ve often heard other teachers say: “that’s good, let’s find some ways to do that quicker to buy us more time in the exam”… this is because I find it just loads the student with more things to remember and speed ultimately comes from familiarity and confidence… arguably speed is decreased if more tricks are learnt. This second phase where longer questions are attempted is also where the problem-solving skills really start to be learnt too… this is where additional benefits in other subjects (as well as the gains that good Maths will bring anyway) will be gained as well.

If they can’t do it I will try and prompt them to the correct answer by asking questions such as: “Can you read the question out loud to me?”; “Did you remember our plan to summarise the question before trying to answer?” or; “What is this question about?” (followed by) “So, what do you know about triangles that might help?”… Actually, this is not strictly true… what I do is subtler than this… often I don’t say anything and just point at the sheet of paper that says “think twice” that (maybe if it is a teaching tool I’ve chosen for this student) I stick on the table every tutorial (two words that summarise the strategic change I am trying to create in their brains)… or I might just lean back and make a thoughtful “hmmmm” noise and the student then just goes “arrrggghhh I forgot to try to use algebra again” (and another step has been taken along the path of them remembering themselves)…

To try again to say the last paragraph better… as we progress I try give fewer instructions and more information. What do I mean? Strategy and problem-solving skills and laying-out skills can be learnt and then applied to all topics. I teach these things in a connected way so they do not need re-teaching for each topic. The information for each new topic obviously does need communicating. So, a way I measure my progress is how much time I spend working on these two aspects. A tutorial with a student I have been teaching for a while can look very strange… with both of us talking very fast, finishing each other’s sentences and half-finishing the question we are doing and then moving on to the next question when we know the crucial knowledge-gap has been filled and the rest of the question is “easy”… if this is happening I am generally confident we are there… we are reading each other’s minds and able to generate a very high speed of learning… the strategy has been largely learned and the knowledge is being filled-in. There will typically be one question in a tutorial where I refuse to help and the student has to work it all out for themself… an opportunity for me to check progress and I often pick a question that is very difficult as a challenge to further develop problem-solving skills (I will often then talk-through how I might have solved it myself, pretending that I didn’t know what to do either and also had to work it out).

I am continually trying to teach them to help themselves… and I praise good technique much more than getting the correct answer. After 2 or 3 months I find their confidence grows and by then I’ve had time to really develop their weaker skills. In general, performance/exam improvements will have already been achieved… at which point I will start pushing them into using more advanced skills, significantly beyond anything they will have done before. This is where the really big gains can start to kick in.

Exam Preparation:

It is obviously possible to gain some benefit from emergency lessons close to exam time. I would use my judgement to find the best way to help the student in circumstances like these. I generally do two things:- 1. Work on their exam technique so that they are making maximum use of their existing skills and; 2. Pick on a few “easy hits” where I can see they are missing out on marks and where they can be gained fairly easily. Remember this is not as good as tutoring over a period of (say) a year. A key difference is that if (for example) they are weak at fractions I may never even mention it to them… simply ignoring it in the knowledge that fixing it would be too difficult in the time available… mentioning it would simply lower their confidence… instead I would target easier gains elsewhere.

Thanks for Reading!

If you got this far, thanks for reading and back at the top are my contact details. I don’t repeat them down here because of the high risk I’ll forget they are also here and not update them if they change.