Meet the Tutors
Mrs C Turner-Elks: Assistant Headteacher – Sixth Form
My love of reading started at an early age; it was not unusual to find me foraging down the back of the sofas, gleaning together enough coins so I could buy a new book at the weekend. I studied English Literature, History and Economics at A Level before attending the University of Manchester to complete a BA (Hons.) in English Literature. I volunteered to complete wider participation work, supporting young people like myself, who were the first people in their family to go to university, and it was during this time that I decided to train as a teacher. I really believed, and still do, that education is one of the most powerful tools for social mobility. I qualified as an English teacher in 2009 and have been fortunate to work with so many inspirational colleagues and students. I am also a qualified sports therapist and in my spare time, I enjoy walking my dog, reading, indulging questionable choices in reality television and watching football. Becoming a parent myself has also brought about the realisation that those coins that kept appearing might have just been planted by people who wanted to encourage a child’s love of reading and inquisitive nature.
Mrs D Cavanagh: Year 12 Tutor
My love of History started at a young age, and I was a keen student at school taking both American and Tudor history for my own history A-Level. Following school, I attended the University of Birmingham and studied Ancient History. I knew I loved modern History but wanted to learn about areas that I had not been able to study before - Ancient History fascinated me then, as it still does today. I strove to learn as much as I could during my time there, even attending extra lectures. I studied ancient civilisations - Egyptians, Libyans, Hittites, Kassites, Sumerians, Greeks and Romans and gained a First Class Honours degree. Subsequently, I undertook a Research Masters in Egyptology, and was invited to take part in an archaeological dig on Elephantine Island with a German Expedition. My role was to translate Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphics on temple blocks. After my postgraduate degree, I stayed at Birmingham for my PGCE. I had considered teaching since I was in primary school, and it was (and still is!) the perfect job for me. I love being surrounded by history and it is a real privilege to share that with others and to support young people in their own learning. Working in the 6th form is incredibly rewarding, helping students on their path to their next life stage. I particularly enjoy seeing students mature and grow, finding their feet in new subjects and supporting them as they make those decisions as to what comes next. Outside of school, I have two small children that I like to take to historical sites - castles and roman ruins are favourites - as well as enjoying reading and travelling.
Miss N Johnson: Year 12 Tutor
I’d like to introduce myself as your Y12 Form Tutor. As most of you know, I am Head of Geography here at Wolgarston but I am also the Lead Mentor for Trainee Teachers. I loved all my subjects at school, however we had a new Geography teacher in Year 11 who encouraged me to take geography at A Level. I enjoyed all the topics and I was good at it, along with all the fieldwork and trips! This inspired me to study for a Batchelor of Science (BSc) in Geography at Chester University back in 2001. I had always wanted to be a primary school teacher, yet after work experience in primary schools, I changed my mind quickly! I graduated from University in 2003, desperate to earn money and “get a proper job”. This led me to taking a position in the accounts department at Stafford Borough Council. As a graduate, I was invited to train on the job as a Management Accountant. After 12 months, I realised that this career path and working in an office environment wasn’t for me. So, in 2004, I “re-trained” in a PGCE at Manchester Metropolitan University, as a Trainee Geography Teacher. After 3 years working in a school in Stoke on Trent, I moved to Wolgarston in 2009. Then in 2012, my daughter was born who will always be my best achievement yet!
Mr M Train: Year 12 Tutor
I left school in 1983 and studied Materials Technology at Coventry Polytechnic. I then worked in industry for 12 years. First as a metallurgist, then as a quality engineer and finally as a sales engineer. When I was made redundant, I had the opportunity to re-train as a maths teacher. I had been considering this for some time for two reasons. Firstly, education in general is the most powerful resource we have for developing ourselves and society. Secondly, it is through maths that we are able to communicate the most complex ideas in a precise and concise way. As a tutor I always enjoy the conversations I have with students about current affairs and the issues affecting our world. Outside of school, I am a qualified Bikeability Instructor and do this on the days I’m not teaching maths. I have always enjoyed studying for myself and my main interest at the moment is theology; a favourite quote is from Galileo: “mathematics is the language with which God wrote the universe.”
Miss K Bibby: Year 12 Tutor
As someone who worked hard and did well in all my A Level subjects I still remember my dad trying to change my mind about doing Fine Art to degree level. However, I enjoy the subject so much and discovered the great joy of seeing young people find their creative style and develop it as much as they do.
Sixth form is such an important time in a young person's life and being part of the tutor team is an honour. In previous roles I have been responsible for supporting students with UCAS process and the structure of personal statements and this is still something I like helping with.
Mrs J Pilling: Year 13 Tutor
My favourite subjects at school were Science, Mathematics and Art. I took Mathematics and Science A-levels and went on to study Pure and Applied Mathematics at University. When I went, I didn’t know that I wanted to teach; I just really enjoyed the subject and the challenges it presented. I was amazed by all the different areas of Mathematics that could be studied at degree level. At the end of my course, I decided I would like to become a teacher and completed the PGCE year.
Each year I look forward to helping A-level students explore new areas of Mathematics. I hope that they will find the subject as fascinating as I do and appreciate the vital role it plays in explaining and developing the world in which we live. It also has an inherent beauty that makes studying the subject itself so satisfying and that’s why I love teaching Mathematics. It is a privilege to spend time with sixth form students as a teacher and a tutor; to see their independence develop and hopefully, help them go on to achieve their goals.
Outside school, I still have an interest in art and like to be creative. I also like to take part in lots of outdoor activities; hiking in particular, at the moment. I recently walked the 96 miles of the West Highland Way, over 8 days. I found it challenging in places but overall a great experience!
Mrs D Beach: Year 13 Tutor
Even now, believe it or not, I can clearly remember my first day at school! The fear of the unknown, the interacting with people, being presented with challenges I wasn’t sure I would be able to do? That whole combination made my life feel exciting and my mind full of jumbled-up ideas, which I importantly thought was up to me to sort out and make sense of.
Interacting with people is what gives me my ‘buzz’ and I gradually developed (and continue to develop) a strong creative flair for my subjects. During secondary school, I decided that I wanted to become a nurse. My career plan quickly changed on the day my little brother fell off his skateboard and badly damaged his wrist having landed on some glass. He came running to me for help and, at just one look - I fainted! Even now, when I have had to visit hospital with my accident-prone son – his first words are always to ‘please sort out my mum with a wheelchair’.
A new career plan was needed and after Sixth form at Blake High School, I went to Leeds University to study Creative Arts, successfully achieving a B.Ed Honours Degree. I wanted to get back into school and share my love of learning as well as my philosophy of ‘it doesn’t matter if I get something wrong; I’ll learn and try to get it right maybe next time…’
I have had a wide variety of responsibilities during my teaching career – Food & Textiles Teacher / Technology Co-ordinator / Head of House / Sixth Form Vocational Manager / Assistant Headteacher. I have the privilege of working with some amazing people. This continues every day for me at Wolgarston; within this building we work together; we take on the challenges; we become proud of who we are and we work out the directions we choose to follow in life. I look forward to becoming a Sixth Form Tutor; I hope to become rejuvenated and inspired by you – after all, it works both ways!
Mr R Swinnerton: Year 13 Tutor
I wisely did A levels in the three subjects I enjoyed most – Physics, Maths and Chemistry. I then (unfortunately for me, as I didn’t enjoy it) chose a degree subject that would get me a job – Electronic Engineering. After four years as a computer maintenance engineer followed by another five as a senior engineer, I realised three things: that most of my job satisfaction came from training other engineers; that computer maintenance was a bit tedious; and that I’d always loved science (and especially physics). What to do? Of course the answer was to become a Physics teacher. I hope to help inspire Wolgarston students to study science and be intellectually satisfied, productive members of society because, as Carl Sagan put it, “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”
Mrs W Sexty: Year 13 Tutor
I have taught A Level Psychology and Sociology and have been a sixth form tutor for over seventeen years, which means I was a sixth form tutor before my current tutees were born! I can honestly say, I am as captivated with learning about how the human mind works in psychology, shocked at the level of social inequalities uncovered in sociology and enthusiastic for mentoring and supporting sixth form tutees as I was in my first year. Cultivating the ‘great young minds of tomorrow’ is an absolute pleasure and I think the best thing about working with young people and the subjects I teach, is that I never find it boring. There is always something new to learn and more unique individuals to meet each year.