This month we talk to Rishi, our resident 11-plus expert, on how his former career at the BBC has shaped the tutor he’s become.
After graduating from Oxford University, you spent 10 years at the BBC. What attracted you into the world of tutoring, and what have you drawn from your previous time as a producer?
The BBC was a fantastic experience, and although my role there was completely different, it gave me a great grounding. I really liked the idea of using the creativity, empathy and storytelling skills I picked up as a Drama Producer to support children with their education. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to help young people as your day job.
Was Figtree your first tutoring job?
I’ve been tutoring with agencies for a number of years, but I really like the hands-on, bespoke approach that Figtree champions for both the students and the tutors. We’re matched quite carefully, which I think makes for a more effective working relationship for everyone.
Figtree tutors work with students of all ages across a whole range of subjects – but are there any areas you specialise in, or particularly enjoy?
I’d say the 11-plus is a specialism of mine, along with the 7-plus and 8-plus. I’ve helped a lot of children gain entry into their chosen schools through these exams, and it’s a challenge I really relish. I also really enjoy working with students of all ages on their literature studies and creative writing – I studied English Literature myself at university so it’s a genuine joy to be able to continue this passion with my students.
What made you focus on the 11-plus? Do you have any advice for parents whose children will be taking it this year?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision – as my experience grew, I found I had an aptitude for working with that age group and with the 11-plus syllabus. My main advice for parents would be to really work out the schools that are the right fit for your child – and that’s something Figtree can help with. I’d also suggest starting preparation as early as you can, so that it’s a fun and gradual process.
What’s been the proudest moment of your tutoring career?
I wouldn’t say there’s one standout moment, as every day is both fascinating and great fun. I’m really proud of every student I work with – they are all really inspiring young people. On a purely personal note, I was honoured to receive the ‘Tutor of the Year’ award in my first year as a full-time tutor – it gave me a real confidence boost as I embarked on my new career.
Finally – if you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Curious, compassionate, rigorous.