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Teaching skills, subjects and focus of

                         Dr Karen O'Rourke

   Spring & Summer Terms  2023

My background

I am a female tutor with over thirty-five years' teaching experience in the U.K. and overseas, and have been established in Birmingham since 1996. I provide a small, high-quality tuition service in my home for three evenings each week during term time for families with children in Years 3 to 6.

I am not - and never have been - associated with any tuition centre, and therefore don't work for any other person or organisation. To guarantee quality and consistency of results, I don't employ any staff.


Please note that I no longer offer grammar school preparatory tuition.  Despite several statements on this website to this effect, I continue to have parents contacting me to request this service.  I continue to offer preparation in English for independent schools, and hope to do so for many years to come.  

My services - I provide tuition in the following subject areas:


 1.   Individual tuition in general English and mathematics (literacy and numeracy) for school-aged children in Years 3 to 6. I keep a waiting list.  Individual tuition for short periods may be  available in holiday periods for independent school students.  

2.   For the present academic year, 2023-24 I offer: 

Online 11+ English tuition in a group of six students or fewer for a limited number of 'premier league' independent (fee-paying) day schools. Tuition is for students in separate Year Four and Five groups

       I cover a carefully-prepared curriculum for students preparing for full fee places for students from independent and state schools, as well as specialising in preparing state and independent school students for academic scholarships and assisted places. Limited places for ad. hoc. individual tuition are available  (but are often reserved for years in advance). For up-to-date information, please select the tabs above <Online Tuition> and <11+ independent schools>.

       I love to teach English to students preparing for independent school tests! Here are what some parents and students have written about their time in tuition with me:







"My son loved every minute of his time with you and we were only sorry that we didn't start him in Year Four.   We loved the way that your course was structured to include SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar), different types of writing and five types of comprehension questions.  [My son] was a very indifferent reader before he came to you.  But you soon had the measure of my [my son's] lazy bones and could read him like a book.  The authors which you chose for him simply opened the doors to a new world, and he has not looked back since.  He' won a scholarship, as you know, and is doing so well at KES.

Please read on for more information . . . 

King Edward's 2020 Admissions Policy explained: 

King Edward's 2020 Admissions Policy explained: 


Whom do I teach?

I'm very keen to work in partnership with families who are able to make a commitment to spending time with their children, and especially families with a love of learning but who might not know how or where to begin to help their children develop and flourish academically.

Where do I teach?

I provide a small, high-quality tuition service both online and (for some individual students) in my home in Handsworth Wood for three evenings each week during term time (and for a brief period in the summer holiday) for families with children in Years 3 to 6, out of school hours. 

Please note that I am not , and never have been, associated with any tuition centre, and so work exclusively with well-motivated, supportive families with a hunger for education, its joys, challenges and rewards.   

When do I teach?

•  I teach in or from my home during term-time for three evenings each week. (The days vary each term, but currently are Sunday to Tuesday.)

•  I am available in the mornings for students in the Pacific and south-east Asia region, and also for a limited period during the independent and state schools' three main holidays, Christmas, Easter and Summer for students in the U.K..

• I do not teach during any of the half-term holidays.

Individual and group tuition

•  Much of the teaching I undertake is for individual ('one-to-one') students, but

• I also offer highly structured courses of tuition to small groups of up to six (or fewer) Y4 and Y5 students for preparation for the highly-competitive  'premier-league' independent schools in the West Midlands.

What are the reasons for my students' success?

•  Since I started offering tuition in1996, all but two of my 11+ students who attended a three- to five-term course with me has gained a place at a foundation grammar school.  Kindly note that all group and individual tuition for grammar schools ceased permanently in September 2023.  There are currently no places for any new students preparing for grammar schools. 

•  I take care to ensure that I work with families who are well-organised and willing to devote quality time to their children's educational and wider emotional, intellectual, social and aesthetic development.

• I undertake an appropriate and careful initial assessment and before offering suitable tuition for your child.

•  I propose, and parents agree, a personalised, written scheme of work, which we review together at the end of each term.

•  I take great pride and care in preparing resources, which I prepare and adapt according to children's individual needs, to help my students develop and flourish.










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Recent 11+ parent

"Our daughter is so much richer for knowing you.  We will always think of you as one of the family." 





Appreciate reviews

For parents and children about to embark on the daunting and sometimes overwhelming journey that is the 11+, you can do no better than Dr O'Rourke.
From initial assessment to end result she is a consummate professional; an educator of young minds, rather than a "tutor to the test business".
Dr O'Rourke is exacting in her expectations of both child and parents; those expectations are backed by her years of experience. My daughter has absolutely blossomed during her time with Dr Karen. My child has become both a thoughtful critical thinker, an avid reader - a child who believes in her own abilities.
My child comes from a pretty average state school, one where she glides but has not really been "pushed" - I am far from the ideal educated parent, but if Dr O'Rourke sees innate ability she will guide, advise and be with you every step of the way.
Her methods and outstanding record speak for themselves; her integrity and love of teaching is priceless.

Former 11+ parent:
Former 11+ parent:

"If your fortunate enough to get chosen by Karen as a teacher for your child then count yourself among a handful of parent's who will be left with a child prepared for not only outstanding test result's but the skill's to sail through any and every obstacle put to them through their educational journey through life.
The skill's she teaches come from decades of experience she is passionate about every student, for her it is not a job but a way of life and every time my child comes home beaming with pride with their regular test results this shows.
Our children actually wanted to go back and sit another test with Karen after their tuition had come to an end she is that good at her teaching.
The biggest gift Karen gave to our children was a passion for reading in fact our bookshelves are now crammed with book's from a vast range of authors, Karen has changed the course of my children's life for the better.

"We feel very fortunate to have Dr Karen as a tutor for our son for the 11+ preparations. Children are taught in small groups unlike other places we visited. The standard, style and technique of teaching identifies the strengths and weakness of individual children. The weekly sessions are well planned and she keeps the parents involved in the day-to-day activities and progress of the child. She ensured that our Son is not only prepared for the grammar test, but also provided a very good foundation for the secondary school.

I don't know any other teacher who works so hard to ensure the child is fully prepared for the test. We highly recommend Dr Karen to everyone and we couldn't have done it without her hard work and guidance." 





Acquire understanding






Former 11+ parent:

"a passionate tutor"

"Dr Karen is a passionate tutor who has always gone the extra mile to support her students. With all the support, guidance and dedication given by Dr Karen my son has achieved excellent scores in his eleven plus exams!. I would highly recommend Dr Karen as a tutor as class sizes are small so she is able to understand and support the children. Her lessons have not only helped in 11plus preparation but has given my son an excellent foundation of knowledge that will help him in his educational journey. To sum up in my sons words Dr Karen is simply the best tutor we could have ever had!!"

Former 11+ parent: (father of two former students)

"My daughter has been very fortunate in having Karen as her tutor. There are two kinds of tutors - a large group for whom it is a business and a smaller one which prides itself on improving a child. Dr Karen belongs to the second group. The former takes the easy way out. They fill their tutorials with students and cut and paste information from Bond and CGP books. Karen, goes out of the way in teaching a subject. My daughter's vocabulary improved in leaps and bounds. She is able to understand words based on their origin. Her English skills have improved to an extent that I believe she could tackle GCSE questions - and this is after the 11 plus tuition !

If you want the easy way out, buy the Bond and CGP books. If you want an education and to sail into a grammar school , go to Karen. "

 11+ parent:

We feel very lucky to have Dr Karen as our child's 11+ tutor. The standard of teaching is fantastic and the resources she provides are superb. She treats her pupils as individuals and is genuinely concerned about each child's progress. Lessons and homework are tailored to ensure that any weaknesses are addressed. She is very approachable and provides frequent feedback. I have no hesitation in recommending her as a tutor.

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