An interview with Paula Cockshaw, a private science tutor.


Coronavirus has had a tidal wave effect on just about everyone, and private tutors are no exception.

Paula Cockshaw was a secondary school science teacher and part time tutor for 7 years, switching to full time private tutoring just over a year ago.

To gain a better understanding of how private tutors are adjusting to this new way of teaching, I have asked Paula some questions about her day-to-day job and the changes she and her students have faced since lockdown began.

Teaching online certainly has its ups and downs, with one major benefit being the lack of commuting through heavy London traffic to students’ houses. Paula says that she enjoys this aspect of it because she ‘has a big family, so it’s handy to be able to put some washing on or get dinner started between lessons’, and both herself and her students are ‘much more flexible and relaxed’ because no one has to travel anywhere.

It also means that she can teach anyone in the world who has enough internet connection, so has even tutored a student in Rome!

Despite the seemingly huge change from in-person to online learning, Paula surprisingly has not had to alter her teaching style too much; she was keen on using online materials with her students even before lockdown, and ‘zoom is easy enough to use as long as the wifi’s working’. In fact, she says the biggest inconvenience with online teaching is definitely ‘losing internet connection’, and she does ‘miss the interactions with students and their parents’ as well.

I asked Paula whether she thought students benefitted more or less from online teaching in comparison to teaching in person, and although she says they ‘benefit equally’, she thinks it ultimately depends on the student: ‘with students spending so much time online now, there are those that don’t want to spend even more time at a screen and those that really need the one to one help that working with a teacher provides, whether that’s in person or online’.

It seems the changes have certainly affected everyone differently, and it’s admirable to see how Paula and so many other workers are adjusting to the plethora of unpredictable changes.

For now, she’s ‘taking it one day at a time’; she’s fully booked up with students so is always occupied and enjoys the virtual interactions she is able to have with them, and also values the extra time she gets to spend with her family due to not having to commute