Hi, I’m Nicky Tweedle and I would like to share my experiences which led to me becoming an Online A-level Biology Tutor.
My passion for biology started as an A-level student many years ago and led to me studying at the University of Liverpool and graduating in 1995 with a BSc (Hons) Microbiology. At the time I really fancied becoming a forensic scientist within the police, so I was interviewed for their graduate scheme. The feedback I received was very positive, but they felt I had lived a sheltered life applying directly to the police from University and straight to University from school. They asked me to reapply the following year having gained some ‘life experience’ and suggested I go travelling for a year!! So, my adventures began!
My gap year which became 2!!
I decided rather than just travel, that I would prefer to gain valuable life skills and insights into the world of work. Firstly, I spent a summer with Bunac working as a Sports Director on a girl scout camp in the north of New York state. I loved working with the children on the camp and developed a huge boost in my self-esteem. This was a testing role as I was given a grass field and very little equipment. It was very warm, so most games/sports were linked to water. There was even a week when the girl scouts brought their dogs to camp with them!! This was followed by a couple of months touring the USA by train.
Then onto Courmayeur, Italy where I completed a ski season with Bladon Lines as a ski host (a glorified chambermaid and silver service waitress). This was a superb way to hone my skiing ability and develop my confidence interacting with others. Unfortunately, in the last week of the season I fractured my wrist attempting to snowboard! Thankfully I was allowed to remain for the end of season shut down and parties!
I then swapped Italy for Hyeres, Southern France and completed a summer season working as a Group Leader for PGL on a water sports centre. This role included the welfare and supervision of children aged 12-18 years, liaising with teachers, organising the daily activities and evening entertainments. It was this job that really led to me becoming a more outgoing character and pursuing water sports activities as a hobby.
My second gap year!!
Bladon Lines became Inghams and I was approached to run a chalet for 16 guests in Courmayeur once more. Needless to say, I didn’t need much persuasion and jumped at the chance; much to my mums’ disgust! She wanted me to get a ‘proper job’! My response ‘the police told me to travel and gain life experience before I reapplied!’. So off I went with my best mate Alex from university in tow. And what a fantastic season it was. Being given the responsibility to manage the chalet ourselves, cook and clean for 16 guests, complete the weekly accounts and orders was a huge undertaking but we loved it. We left with a reasonable understanding of Italian foods and cleaning products; an ability to snowboard and a long list of fantastic friends we made along the way. Whilst in Italy I was offered a MSc at Bristol University in Crop Science and a PhD at Oxford University. But I was simply having too much fun to go back to studying and realised I was loving working alongside children. It was after a discussion with mum that she sent me an application form for a PGCE, just as a fall back. I filled it in thinking nothing will come of that, but it will keep mum quiet until September!
The summer came around quickly and I returned to life with PGL as an Assistant Centre Manager in Bezier, France. This has probably been my hardest job to date-overall management of 40 staff, overseeing all aspects of training, administration, catering and water sports activities, liaising with the local French community and ensuring smooth running of the centre and safety of all guests.
Back to the real world
Following my 2 gap years, where I had earnt pennies but grown up and developed tremendously as a person-I think my family thought the wrong person had come home to them!! Outgoing, lively and highly organised! I made a big life decision and decided the police was no longer for me. I had thoroughly enjoyed working with children and decided I would follow the pathway of becoming a teacher. I lived at home in Brighouse and travelled to the University of Leeds and completed my PGCE Biology with Science.
For over 15 years I worked in 3 different schools, the first being a state comprehensive where I gained all the behavioural skills necessary as a teacher! I then took a promotion as Head of Biology at Adam’s Grammar School, a Haberdashers’ boys selective boarding school in Shropshire. I loved my time here and threw myself into every opportunity possible gaining many water sports qualifications, managing Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and running the 6th form girls’ netball team. It was here I met my husband who was a PE teacher and boarding house tutor. We then made the decision to relocate to Yorkshire and I returned to the school I had attended as a student Bradford Girls’ Grammar a selective, independent girls’ school. I became Head of Careers, Second in Biology, co-ordinator of Biology Challenge and Biology Olympiad and the Duke of Edinburgh assessor. This was a fantastic school to teach in with well behaved, bright girls all in small class sizes. I thrived teaching the academically able students aiming for Oxbridge, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry etc.
Life moved quickly, I got married and we eventually managed to have our miracle baby following IVF. It was at this time; I made the decision to take a leap into the unknown and set up my own business tutoring A-level Biology. For me this meant my work hours could be flexible around family support and I could spend lots of time with my son. It was the best decision I have ever made. After a year of tutoring at the kitchen table I invested in a log cabin in the garden. This was a fantastic space where I could tutor up to 5 students at a time. My business boomed purely due to word of mouth and soon all the local communities knew Tweedle’s Biology Tuition was the place to go for A-level Biology Tuition.
But in 2014, disaster struck I had the worst telephone call of my life-my husband had been involved in a road traffic incident. In fact, what transpired was he had had a massive heart attack whilst driving home from work in Harrogate and went into cardiac arrest. He was unlikely to survive as CPR was carried out for over 7 minutes and if he did would he be brain damaged? Anyone that knows my husband-he would be the last person you would expect this to happen to-a lean, mean, sporting machine with a very healthy lifestyle aiming to complete an Ironman in the next month! After a traumatic week in intensive care, he began a slow, steady recovery and thank goodness defied the odds! He now lives a completely normal lifestyle albeit controlled by a number of medications. This changed our perspective on life-life was to live and have no regrets. We had always talked about teaching abroad in international schools but never taken the leap. So, we started applying in Europe.
After 7 years of tutoring in the UK, my husband was appointed as Head of PE, Kings’ College, Madrid so the big move began. We sold our house, cars and most of our big belongings ready to start afresh in Spain. It’s not been easy and Spanish bureaucracy will always drive me mad. The language barrier is easing as we develop gradually in our understanding. We do have a great teacher, our 8 year old son, who has absorbed the language like a sponge so helps us out massively!
This move meant Tweedle’s Biology Tuition had to switch to becoming fully online tuition, which I adapted to easily and now love. I currently offer individual tuition sessions alongside weekly group Masterclasses for AQA and OCR AS and A-level Biology.
If you would like to find out more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or see for more details https://tweedlesbiologytuition.com/
LEAVE A COMMENT
How did I end up here? Well I am doing my own research and trying to tease out memories of a summer school trip to Hyeres in 1995. It’s a bit too early for Google and the internet and there’s not much out there. I’m not sure with your 2 gap years whether you were there in 95 or 96 (what a coincidence if it was 95!) but you might be able to help me. What was the name of the beachfront bar that doubled as the camps social club of an evening? It sounds like you’ve had an incredible journey in life – keep it up!
Hi Dave, thanks for your message. What a long shot you stumbled across Hyeres in my blog! I was there summer of ’96 and ’97. I know exactly the social club you are meaning and yes I did lots of evening entertainment for the school groups on stage there! I have absolutely no recollection of its name-my brain is now solely a walking A-level Biology mark scheme. Sorry I can’t be of any further help. I do believe there may be a PGL Hyeres/France past staff facebook group but I’m not part of it. Thanks Nicky
Ah well it was the longest of long shots but I appreciate your replying.
I’ve decided to post my article anyway and should I manage to get the name I will update at some point.
If you fancy a read away from biology then it’s here https://theyorkshiredad.com/back-in-the-summer-of-95