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11+ for independent schools

Independent schools are schools which charge fees




I am currently recruiting Year Four and Year Five in four groups of six students preparing for the English element of premier-league independent schools in Birmingham and beyond.

Since 2021 I have increased the provision of online group tuition of six students or fewer in English for Year Four and Five students from state and independent schools who are preparing for the entrance tests of premier-league independent schools (not grammar schools) of the King Edward VI Foundation and other highly competitive independent schools in Britain, with entry in Year Seven.

I offer weekly 90-minute workshop masterclasses in English in groups of six students or fewer, for Year Four students, in addition to my 90-minute weekly classes for my Year Fives.  Please consider my Years Four and Year Five programmes:



Independent school preparatory tuition takes place online only, for individuals and small groups of  six students or fewer,  from my home in Handsworth Wood (which is not a tuition centre, but a family home).  Hardworking students with supportive parents from both state and certain independent schools make up the groups.  




Since 2021. I have been pleased to be able to welcome suitable mature and productive students from certain independent schools with a balanced curriculum which is not driven solely and excessively by grammar school preparation.

For some students who show above average natural ability, some of the 'premier league' independent schools in Birmingham offer

•              generous bursaries ('assisted places');

•             academic & music scholarships;

•             awards of combined scholarships

               and assisted places.


Many of my past students have been awarded scholarships with assisted places; and some of these families pay no fees at all!

Parents often don't realise that the premier-league independent schools in Birmingham offer a limited number of generous bursaries and scholarships for suitable students; and yet many do not realise until it is too late that the selection tests differ considerably from the grammar schools' entrance tests.


Parent of previous  grammar school and independent school candidate in receipt of a scholarship and assisted place: 

"The preparation for KEHS was totally different from the preparation for grammar schools.  I am glad we had you to guide us.  I am so grateful that you encouraged us to think well out of the box and to see that some independent schools are actually elite institutions, not at all for grammar school failures!  [Our daughter] had [points totalling over 260] in the grammar school tests, but we have never regretted sending her to KEHS on her scholarship and assisted place.  Not for one minute."


I am very pleased to announce that there will be places available in groups of six for current Year Four students, to start in the Autumn Term 2024. 

I keep a waiting list for interested families with children in Ys 1 to 3.  

Please send me a secure message with your contact details in the <contact me> form below. I will usually contact you within 72 hours to arrange an informal Skype or WhatsApp discussion if your child is in Y1 or above.

However, before you contact me, please read the comprehensive information below first to familiarise yourself with the way I prepare students for these highly competitive and challenging tests.


 I publish a curriculum for online group tuition in English, comprising a planned framework and scheme of work for three approximate ten-week terms for hardworking and productive Years Four and Five students.


A straightforward assessment in English comprehension and writing with me will guide parents towards the most appropriate course for your child.  The fee for this initial assessment is usually £60.


English is my specialist subject and passion!  I encourage all my students to become active and discerning readers at home. When I begin teaching a child individually, I make every effort to find a programme of suitable literature for them to enjoy, not endure! Therefore, the tuition I offer is suited particularly to those bright girls and boys who are also reluctant readers.

Sentence grammar, punctuation, syntax, vocabulary and proof-reading  

All my students are encouraged to develop rigour in these areas, which will form the bedrock of communicating in writing and speaking for the whole of their lives. 

•  I ensure that my students understand the component parts of a sentence so that they are equipped to organise their ideas into a variety of clear, fluent, structured sentences, using and punctuating main and subordinate clauses with confidence.

•   I provide students with the 'building blocks' of skills which will enable them to proof-read and check their own work with self-assurance and genuine understanding.

•  I support all teaching with clear revision notes, which I write myself.


        Often, scholarship candidates distinguish themselves by the way they respond to comprehension questions, teasing out a variety of subtle inferences and underlying meanings. 

·         I teach students how to approach comprehension texts with confidence and, in particular, to recognise that different types of comprehension questions require diverse approaches and responses.

·          With me, students preparing for entry into independent schools will become familiar with a wide range of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. They will learn to read, understand and respond critically and with genuine appreciation.

·         In the months approaching examinations, I train students to evaluate types of questions in seconds, enabling students to identify, understand and use appropriate taxonomies. They will discover how to work out how long they should spend on questions and the importance of particular (scholarship) questions in relation to the whole paper.

Writing genres

The development and practice of children's writing is my speciality subject and major interest. I will guide all my students, not only scholarship candidates, towards becoming the best writers that they can be.  Writing can be taught, and I set high standards for students who come to me; all students receive a rigorous, firm but fair education.  I try to guide my students by example, building on a love of literature and appreciating the techniques of inspiring writers. 

•  I know from decades of experience that the grounding and roots of confidence in writing  lie in passionate, ambitious and wide-ranging reading.

• I teach a variety of genres of narrative (story) and descriptive prose and poetry; argumentative, discursive, critical and evaluative writing skills.

•  My syllabus incorporates various fiction and non-fiction genres, including writing play-scripts, speeches and oral and written presentations. All students will be encouraged to read widely while they receive tuition from me.


Before I accept a student for tuition for independent schools, I find out the key elements of the English in the tests and assess a child in those areas. (These are usually comprehension and writing.)

•    I offer preparatory tuition in English for standard entry level and scholarship level to individual students.

•   Following my initial assessment and an offer of tuition, I propose, and parents agree, a written scheme of work, of which they receive a copy. I set a relevant and realistic programme of homework each week of approximately one hour.

•   I offer individual assessments with a view to students entering tuition with me in the future. I usually charge a fee of £60 for this service, which includes a follow-up telephone consultation with parents. Parents need to be prepared for me to tell them honestly whether I think their aspirations for their child are realistic in the time available.  I will be honest, but not brutal!

I monitor progress and provide parents with regular, straightforward feedback and advice to address problem areas. I ensure that students' progress is maintained by regular testing using past and sample papers from relevant schools, and a range of worksheets which give clear explanations of features of the scheme of work.

"The K.E.H.S. tuition was the best investment we have ever made in our two children, with grammar school tuition a very close second."



Online or in person individual tuition with me for independent schools' entrance is available. Tuition may be:

  • on a short-term basis in the independent schools' holiday period which overlaps with the state schools' term or

  • for  one or more terms.


Please enquire for further information.

"My daughter surprised me by thoroughly enjoying your  K.E.H.S. tuition after the grammar school tests.  The poetry and creative writing really stretched her in ways that the grammar school tuition had not.  She was as surprised as I was at gaining an assisted place.  Now the hard decision is grammar school or K.E.H.S.?"   

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Will tuition with Dr Karen O'Rourke suit my child and our family?

Please be aware that in providing a service of high-quality individual tuition, I organise the teaching I undertake under clearly-defined terms and conditions and contracts with parents, which are reviewed and, subject to performance and conduct, can be renewed each term. Therefore:

•   The tuition that I provide is best suited to motivated, well-organised families, for whom a balanced education and wider interests and the welfare of a child take priority over parents' work commitments and wider family and social functions.

• Also, kindly note that in line with good practice, I will accept primary school-aged students for individual face-to-face tuition only when they are accompanied by a responsible adult, preferably a parent, or a sibling over 16 years of age.  Similarly, for online tuition, an adult should be present in the room with a child for the whole period of tuition.

Parents who would like to arrange an informal Skype or WhatsApp discussion with me about tuition now or in the future should use the following <CONTACT ME> form.  I will usually respond within 24 hours, or after a slightly longer time during school holidays and my annual late August Summer School. 

Waiting List I am also keeping a waiting list of prospective students who will enter Years Four and Five in September 2024 - 25.  If you are interested in tuition with me from Year Four,  please submit the form below.  I will acknowledge your interest and request a very informal online meeting with both parents or guardians to discuss the assessment process.  

Contact Me


Please use the form below to contact me.    Please note, however, that parents call       me every day requesting tuition for which I have no vacancies and I have to disappoint every single person.  Please read the information above before you submit an enquiry.  I will reply within 24 hours in term-time.  

Thanks! Message sent.

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