Back to school!

So here we are – the first full week of September and the notorious “Back To School”. The past few days have been a flurry of new lunch boxes, sorting school uniform and of course – the night before the first day back.

For teachers too, the final few days of summer were spent finalising classrooms, ensuring planning is ready, INSET training and wondering what this years class will bring.

I always enjoyed sorting my classroom ready for the new term and would spend many an hour drawing up plans and arranging (and then re-arranging!) all the furniture until it was just right. Still I’d worry – “would little Johnny really be able to see ok there?” “Is it really best to have the art resources in that cupboard?” “Are my main displays hidden?” It will come as no surprise to you all that I would then go back to rearrange some more until I was happy. Sometimes I had to remind myself that I was overthinking things; that I wouldn’t really know the best layout until my class were there and actually, I could still swap things around mid-term if I really felt it wasn’t working.

This year has been no different. I’ve had a complete overhaul of my tuition space ready for the new year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finding resources that I’d previously forgotten about and adding new bits to my ever-growing collection. As ever, there’s still bits to move around but on the whole I’m happy.

Back to the infamous night before. Every time I have asked a pupil this week whether they are ready for school and excited, every single pupil without fail has told me they’re nervous. Will their teacher be strict? What happens if the work is too hard? What about if they don’t remember concepts they learnt last year? For all of the children I teach, confidence is somewhat of an issue, and these types of questions crop up more often. But even so, it’s a worthwhile reminder that even the most confident of children may well feel nervous starting their new school year – whether it’s moving from infants to juniors, Year 5 to Year 6 or that big jump up to secondary school, the night before may well be filled with anxiety. Each time these questions have come up this week, we’ve stopped and chatted about what the new year will bring: what they know about the teachers; their ways of asking for help and reminding them that I’m still here to help too. I’ve also been reminding them that teachers too get nervous and will often find themselves worrying just like students.

Those fears, for both students and teachers, tend to dissipate within the first few days as everyone settles into their new routine and the term gets underway. By this time next week, the first full week will be over and it will feel like we’ve never been away.

Don’t be surprised if you find your little one has been more clingy than usual this week – they’ll soon get back into the swing of things and at the moment you’re their constant.

The Beginning


Welcome to Rachael Willcox Tutoring’s very first blog! Over time, we will be publishing useful articles, top tips and personal insights. There will also be guest blogs from our resident tutors, but for now I thought I’d tell you a little more about the birth of Rachael Willcox Tutoring. Enjoy!


I started teaching way back in 2009. Fresh out of university I took on a lovely Year 5 class in a small village school. In that class were two pupils who had really struggled. One was a selective mute, and the other had been expelled from previous schools and required 1:1 support for his behavioural and learning needs. Throughout my first year, I found I gravitated to finding new ways to support these pupils, in the hope that they may be able to access the learning in my classroom more easily.

The sense of pride I felt when my little girl was able to read in the final class assembly of the year, and then have the courage to compete in a national athletics competition (she was a talented athlete but had never competed as she lacked confidence and would meltdown) was overwhelming. This feeling, and the wonderful letter from her parents stayed with me throughout my teaching career and I always found myself gravitating towards the pupils who’s needs had, perhaps, been overlooked in previous years.

So, when a change of circumstances meant I needed to work part time, I took the opportunity to explore 1:1 tuition further. I joined a supply agency and supported numerous pupils, particularly those who were falling behind in the run up to SATs. Being able to spend time on a concept the pupil was struggling with, instead of rushing through in order to fit all of the demands of the curriculum was fantastic. I could fully focus on ensuring the pupil in my care understood the concept taught, no matter how long that took and I was free to try varying different approaches to find the one best suited to their needs. The “lightbulb moments” when they finally grasped each concept was wonderful, and their pride at “getting it” was humbling to see.

It was at that moment, I realised my true vocation and Rachael Willcox Tutoring was born. I registered my business and began. My spaces started to fill, and soon I had a waiting list! I had no idea that there were so many pupils struggling with the demands of the primary curriculum and the lack of time teachers have to ensure every child understands each concept. After a while, I decided to expand. There were too many children for me to help alone, so I reached out to other qualified teachers who I knew shared the same vision as myself and built our new website. I was also able to further my passion for music and began teaching the flute (my main instrument, taken through university) and further allow children to foster their creativity and learn the vital skills of music making and appreciation. So here we are. A bustling tuition business and a sense of immeasurable pride at the pupils I am able to help each day.

I hope you have enjoyed reading.

Rachael (Founder of Rachael Willcox Tutoring)