Hi! My name is Karen and I am The Top Cat Tutor. I live in the beautiful Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, on the England/Wales border with my husband and two cats, Polly and Philbert.
I qualified as a primary teacher in 2004. Before then I’d worked as a Teaching Assistant in a large, multi-cultural primary school, which I loved, and they encouraged me to get my teaching qualification.
My first teaching job was in a large junior school where I taught Year 3 for two years. Whilst studying for my masters degree, I covered teacher’s non-contact time across Years 3-6 and taught Year 5 one day a week.
One of my main reasons for becoming a teacher was so that I could work in museum education – be the person that plans and delivers the school visits and teacher resources. This was a job I’d wanted to do since I was about 8, when I went on a school trip to a stately home and thought of the lady leading our workshop: “I’d like her job”. Between 2007 and 2011 I was lucky enough to work in the education department at museums in Preston and Luton. History is my passion and this enabled me to work with young people and pass on my love for the subject in a really creative and hands on way. It was during this time that I also began tutoring.
After being made redundant I began working for the National Deaf Children’s Society producing resources around emotional health and wellbeing. I learnt so much about deafness and the impact it can have on children, and a bit of sign language to boot! Then in 2014 I found myself back in the classroom. I’d moved to the Forest of Dean and got a 6 month maternity cover in my village school teaching Years 5 and 6. I stayed for just over 5 years and loved it there! My educational roles outside of the classroom definitely made me a better teacher inside it.
How I became The Top Cat Tutor:
The immense pressure of classroom teaching led to several episodes of burnout, stress and poor mental ill health. When Covid-19 hit, it gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate what I wanted from my work – and life in general – and I made the decision to leave classroom teaching and set up my own tuition business. As a tutor, I am able to put all those years of experience of classroom teaching, and working in more broad educational settings, to very good use, whilst teaching in ways that balance children’s academic progress whilst looking after their wellbeing. I love having the freedom to be flexible in how I work to ensure I can provide the best learning experience for each child I work with. I also love getting to know each child and their family, and working on what the child needs, at a pace that suits them using methods that are engaging and enjoyable.