Nikki de Villiers

Nikki de Villiers

Nikki de Villiers - Lemon Tree senior tutor, owner and English/SEN specialist. For the best private tuition in Surrey and West Sussex...

"Thank you so much for everything. You have been incredible. I have honestly never seen my son so enthused about an English lesson before - ever! You are a great teacher and lovely with it! Thank you for all your help..." West Wittering parent, Chichester, West Sussex

With Sats exams, GCSEs and A Levels round the corner, the push for success is in overdrive. But what if your child:

  • Feels useless in a bottom set
  • Is home schooled with learning gaps 
  • Has no self esteem and hates school
  • Can't cope with a learning difficulty 

Here at Lemon Tree Tutors, we speak to many parents across the Weybridge and Chichester areas who live with this every day.

Often at their wits end, they reach out to us... So troubled by their child’s learning issues, many have lost hope that things will ever change for the better… 

It's not too late

When one mum called me recently saying her child was punished at school for not completing enough in the lesson, it reminded me that teachers have little time to dig deeper and work out WHY there is a problem.

As a former teacher myself, I can tell you that teachers are pulled in every direction - and simply don't have the energy to juggle every responsibility equally.

With the current teacher recruitment crisis, TA redundancies and funding shortfalls, teachers will continue to be stretched. Accepting that teachers do their best is a good first step. The second is to be proactive yourself:

  1. Because children often feel overwhelmed by learning problems, it helps if you handle one issue at a time. Gently easing your child to take a baby step forward can start them on a more positive path ahead.
  2. Read with them for 10 minutes a day to reduce the fear of reading alone. Enjoy the story with them... Get them to ask questions.
  3. Tackle a homework together without telling them to get on with it. Support them with the first few minutes and let them have a go. 
  4. If your child hates school, try empathy. 'I didn't like school sometimes too. But do you know what helped?... What do you think would help you to find it easier?' 

Finally, another option is to arrange one-to-one tuition. As a support system, many parents are relieved to be able to share the load with a trained tutor. Plus because tutors works with struggling youngsters every day, they'll have a range of techniques and tools ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Without doubt, in my teaching and tuition career I've been amazed at what a different - kinder - approach can do for a child's wellbeing.

So, please... Don’t struggle on hoping things will just change. Get in touch with me, Nikki de Villiers, for a free, no-obligation chat about your child's needs… Even if I can offer some advice in the first instance, you're welcome to get in touch.

Currently our Surrey tutors work across:

  • Epsom and Sutton to Dorking
  • Hersham, Walton-on-Thames and Weybridge
  • Fleet, Guildford to Cobham
  • Claygate to Oxshott
  • Byfleet to Woking

 Our Chichester tutors span:

  • Chichester
  • Bracklesham Bay and The Witterings
  • Bosham to Lavant
  • Worthing
  • Shoreham-by-Sea
  • Petworth to Midhurst


How is your revision plan going? If you've been following our latest posts: How to power-up your GCSE revision and How to make sure your revision sticks, you'll be crammed to the eyeballs with revision techniques!

The thing with revision though is that you need to test yourself all the time to help those facts and skills sink in. This matters for several reasons:

  1. If your exams are several weeks away, it helps to keep revision topped up so you remember it at peak times
  2. Revising over time will help counter all those exam nerves. The more on-top-of-things you feel, the less you'll panic
  3. If you test yourself and hit a wall, you've time to find a way through it. A self-test is a great way to flag up weaker areas

So where do you start? The internet! 

The online goldmine

All the key exam boards are now online. Best of all, they publish previous/sample papers - including the mark scheme and examiner's report. Online is an absolute goldmine of information that keeps giving...

Try the following:

  • Sit a paper under timed conditions. No checking your phone/nipping to the fridge or doing anything else. Train yourself to sit for the correct amount of time - or, at the very least, test yourself on a section with allotted time
  • Then read through the mark scheme to test your accuracy. If you spot areas of difficulty, make them a priority in your revision schedule. Then revise and test again later.. The added bonus to this is that you get first-hand insight into what examiners expect. Over time, this can help you understand what examiners are looking for
  • Back up your textbook and exercise book revision with more interactive approaches. Try these below...

Here are just some of the fabulous sites worth exploring:

The best revision trick?

Stick with it... Cramming overnight doesn't work as it creates panic. Instead if you work consistently over time, you'll have far greater success. And of course, if you need a GCSE tutor to help with the tricky stuff, feel free to get in touch.

Across the Chichester area we have GCSE English teachers you can call on for help. Spanning Weybridge areas in Surrey, we've super Science, Maths and English GCSE tutors you can enlist for support. 

Hot on the heels of 'How to power up your GCSE revision,' today we're looking at how to help information stick! 

Revising is hard work when you're not doing it right. Often it leads to frustration and panic when you have just months to go before D - or E - Day! 

The truth is, some techniques work better than others. That said, there are universal revision techniques you can try to help you retain information instead of it going in one ear and straight out the other. 

Where do so many students go wrong?

Usually when you revise for too long in one sitting without applying or testing it afterwards. Thing is, your brain isn't built to retain information unless you use it.

Classic scenario: you sit for an hour reading your text book. You find your eyes blurring, you're getting bored, and start looking for distractions. But you stick to the hour as you said you would. 'It's revising,' you tell yourself. 

Except when you have a test on it the next day, you don't recall much. The reason? Just reading by itself doesn't do enough. 

Lose it if you don't use it

A better scenario is this: you spend 15 minutes learning about a poem, a chapter in a text book, a historical event, population or traffic for human Geography paper. Afterwards, you try different ways to recall that information:

  • Create a mind map, recalling info and connecting ideas
  • Record the information into a dictaphone app and play it back while fact-checking
  • Make a poster with key info, statistics, images
  • Test out you remember on a whiteboard or paper in bullet points
  • Tell a friend/parent what you've just learned so you 'translate' it into your own words

Try ACTive reading 

In those 15 minutes, some students find it helps to do something active rather than just read. Use your ears, eyes, and hands. Try these for size:

  • Highlight key facts in a text, then pull them together in a diagram
  • Colour code information
  • Condense information you are reading as you go along into a spider diagram/on sticky notes
  • If you've revision sheets in 'Word,' use text-to-speak to hear the information. Jot down bullet points as you listen
  • Create index cards as you go along, recording key info/quotes/facts
  • If you've a spare five minutes left of your 'reading' time, check out YouTube. You'd be amazed at how many teachers now upload learning vids. Everything from anthology poem analysis to understanding vectors for Maths

Talk and learn

Yes, it's official. You can learn by talking! In fact, it's one of the best ways to remember information. Here are our top tips:

  • Revise with a mate. Chat through that tricky poem/chapter/technique/topic
  • Each revise something different for ten minutes, then teach each other what you read. Explaining out loud what you recall is a great way to help you remember it for longer 
  • Read a non-fiction text together for the paper 2 Language paper. Annotate the text together to see what you both spot
  • Ask a parent to quiz you about a topic you've just learnt to sharpen up your recall

How else to boost your memory recall?

  • Use mnemonics. Useful for spelling: rhythm. Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving 
  • Maths trigonometry: SOHCAHTOA sin: opposite: hypotenuse / cos: adjacent: hypotenuse / tan: opposite: adjacent
  • Ryhme can help: Winds blow from high to low
  • Mix up your revision topics. More subjects in short bursts is better than long revision sessions on less subjects. So don't have a day of Maths, or a weekend of Science

Next up? Which test is best?

The third post in this series is important. It's all about how to test yourself. Exams can make even the toughest student weak at the knees with fear. That's why we've asked our top Surrey and Chichester tutors to share their top techniques. Don't miss it!

What is the number one issue GCSE students struggle with this time of year? Revision. How to start, what to do, how to revise effectively. Instead, far too many teenagers revise in the wrong way - wasting precious time. 

Let's look at how to power-up your revision so you get more done in half the time! Ready? Let's go!

Are you making these mistakes?

  • You spend too long revising, and then get distracted?
  • You read your exercise book or file, and yet nothing seems to go in?
  • You don't know whether your answers meet your target grade

Believe me, we've ALL been there. Revising is tough if you're not doing it right. 

How to power-up your revision to ace your exams

Chances are you make the same mistakes as those listed above? If so, let's look at each problem in turn over the next few blog posts to see how you can switch your technique round to turbo-charge your revision.

1. You're distracted and get nothing done. Revision seems to take forever in one sitting.  

No wonder it feels like you're getting nowhere if distractions put you off. We're talking Facebook, Snapchat, TV, texting your mates - to name just a few. Distractions are everywhere!

The thing about revision is that you can't do it 24/7. In fact, we urge you not to. What does matter is achieving a balance between revision and reward.

Let's say you know you need to revise that tricky Anthology poem for an English test tomorrow, but your fave programme is on the telly?  

Simple. Promise yourself you can watch the programme on catch-up, then you've not missed out. Better still, you can give yourself a pat on the back for achieving both. Try it. It really works! 

Lemon Tree advice?

  • Spend just one hour revising without any distractions
  • Break that hour down into sections: first five minutes? Decide on a topic with a question prepared
  • Revise the topic or technique for 15 minutes (using alarm) by reading through and perhaps doing a mind-map of information - or revision card
  • Then get up, stretch, then straight back to it
  • Next, start the question you'd planned: perhaps it's a Literature unseen poem question on a past paper, or a section of a non-calculator Maths past paper. Again, spend just 30 minutes tackling the question - resisiting ALL distractions
  • Use the final 10 minutes of this session checking the mark scheme online. Or read through noting areas you struggled with, so that you can build that into your revision schedule ahead

Finally, reward yourself with whatever you wanted to do. Yay! Success... Well done. Repeat another time. 

How to make sure revision doesn't go in one ear and out the other

If this ever happens to you too, don't miss our next blog.

In the meantime, when you need a Chemistry or Science, English or Maths GCSE tutor urgently - just get in touch. Whether you're in the Weybridge, Surrey area - or Chichester to Worthing or Brighton in Sussex. we'll see what we can do to help. 

Failed your recent mock exams? Check this out now

Don't worry if you bombed out of your year 11 exams. It happens to so many young people across the country. Here's what to do next! 

This is it. Your exams are happening THIS year. But are you ready for them? With teachers piling on the work at school, it can feel like you're being catapulted along on a wave of pressure. 

Instead, here's some top tips from our trusty team of GCSE tutors and teachers to help you overcome any exam nerves:

Make a plan

Keep on top of juggling several subjects by creating a revision timetable. Starting now. Ask yourself:

  • Which subjects must I pass?
  • What grades do I need? 
  • Which subjects am I most struggling with?
  • Which subject am I most worried about after the mocks?

Break down these 'must pass' subjects into papers, then mind-map each paper to detail key topics and skills. With a highlighter pen, single out those tricky areas you KNOW you struggle with. Start with them... 

Get practical

Once you've narrowed down your subject hotspots:

  • Get armed with stationery and folders to kickstart your revision plan. You need new folders for each subject, A4 punched pockets, sticky notes - perhaps some index cards. 
  • For each subject, create an overview page listing key skills and papers. Be honest. List what you struggle with. Include a tick column to help you tick off learning problems you nail as you go along. 
  • Find your subject exam board online. Sniff out past papers - noting that English and Maths will have sample exam questions. Check out the marking guides too..

Get help

Move on from disappointing mock results by getting proactive instead:

  • Ask a teacher to explain a tricky subject area - be it algebra, unseen poetry, or Chemistry
  • Find out when revision classes are on at school. And go to them!
  • Ask your parents about a personal tutor to help you tackle the tough stuff in half the time

Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. Problems won't go away until you face them head on. Get yourself one step ahead! Use the time you have now and over the coming months to give yourself the very best chance of success. And don't forget. Build in a life too. Get out of the house, see your mates, aim for balance.

With GCSE and A level tutors covering Weybridge areas in Surrey and  Chichester area in West Sussex, help is just a phone call or email away. Get in touch with Lemon Tree Tutors today. 



Failing a GCSE mock exam feels like a stomach punch. It truly hurts - leaving you anxious about the future. How could you fail to achieve your predicted grades? And with such little time before the summer finals, how is it even possible for you to turn things round?

The truth is, it IS possible. And you are NOT a failure. Do you know why? Because ALL of us fail at something in life. Super smart students like you know that trying again - having another go - is what matters. 

Yes, it's disappointing to only achieve a 3 for your GCSE English Language paper, knowing that you are capable of a 6 or higher. And yes, your grade for that Science or Maths paper was so low that you wonder what you've actually learnt for the past 10 years.

Putting ALL of this to one side, there is only one way to handle mock exam failure: fight back! Here's how to do it...

1. Learn from your mistakes

As J. K. Rowling famously said, 'It's impossible to live without failing.' The trick is to accept it happened. Forgive yourself. Next, be smart: use your exam papers to weed out weaknesses you need to work on in the future. Be honest with yourself. Did your exam preparation go to pot? Did your exam timing fall short? Do you feel uninspired by topics? 

For each paper you tackled, list your strengths and weaknesses. Highlight the weaknesses to make a plan of action.

2. Work out what matters most

It's hard to feel motivated after disappointment. So fix your eyes on the future instead. What long term goal do you have? Even if you don't know what you want to do with your life yet, long term goals might include driving a fantastic car, travelling the world, leaving home to live independently...

These dreams are what you are fighting for. Short term sacrifices now will give you a bigger opportunity to step closer to making them happen one day. Never lose sight of that... 

Exams, though, are just one part of your life - they're not everything. And you are not defined as a person by your exam results. They simply give you choices. 

3. Shake things up 

If you do what you've done in the past, you'll get the same result next time. So be smart: do something different.

Perhaps you revised by reading your expercise book, then couldn't recall the information? Instead, try different revision techniques.

Create bite-size flash cards, highlight key information, or mind map. Then download practice papers online (along with mark schemes) to test yourself against the clock. 

4. Tackle revision the right way

At Lemon Tree Tutors, many of our students struggle this time of year. Students who simply can't do it on their own, or just don't know 'how' to put things right. 

And since subject teachers - with all the will in the world - are simply unable to support you in person when you need help the most, what other options are there? 

One choice is private one-to-one tuition with an experienced tutor. Someone who can help you explore why you went wrong in the first place, and how to put it right. And as your confidence builds, you'll be armed with a range of skills - ready to take on anything the examiners throw at you. 

With a pick of the best private GCSE tutors in the Weybridge and Chichester areas, why not get in touch today?


As a popular-with-parents tutor service across both Weybridge in Surrey and Chichester in Sussex, we meet many parents with constant worries about their child's education. This year was no exception...

One of the biggest challenges facing schools this term has been a squeezed budget. With less money to spend, there is only so much extra support available to children in the classroom. This means that unless your child has a full statement, one-to-one help is often out of the question. 

There has always been a myth about SEN children that they are unintelligent. In fact, many are often very gifted. Aspergers and dyslexic children, for example, are smart cookies! 

However, the reality is that children with difficulties often feel so negative about themselves. Many hate drawing attention to their problems to limit teasing in class... If you are a parent with a child like this, restless sleep feels like the norm. 

What's the bigger picture?

The problem is that a learning difficulty affects day-to-day progress, and can even destroy confidence. That's why it makes such a profound difference to have personal support with a patient teacher or tutor away from the classroom where a child can focus uninterrupted. 

But this is only half the picture. While children with a recognised condition still battle with lessons in school, many primary and secondary children go undiagnosed.  

Several of our tutors this year have supported children who struggled like mad in primary school with writing, reading and communication, and were then later diagnosed with conditions such as Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia and Asperger Syndrome. 

The fallout from this is that a child can grow up with huge gaps in their learning, often feeling like a fish out of water in secondary school. 

Overwhelmed and unsure what to do next?

Private tuition is not just about helping a child leap over learning hurdles. It's about emotional support and confidence-building too.

Don't run yourself ragged feeling worried to bits about your child. Call SEND specialist Nikki de Villiers at Lemon Tree Tutors today. Whether you are in Chichester or Weybridge, we're only a call away.

With years of experience in helping parents and children get through the toughest times, we are there for you too.

Though re-sitting an exam is probably not a favourite activity, it's worth giving it your best shot - especially if your heart is set on a specific course or university place. Here's some advice to turn your fortunes round now:

1. Accept

First, wipe away the disappointment you feel about achieving disappointing grades. I've been there, and know how it feels when your best just wasn't enough. Since you can't change the past, focus on what you can do now. For starters, being positive - saying 'I CAN do this' - will help you get into a more productive frame of mind.

2. Be honest

Tell yourself that there could be several reasons why you didn't achieve the grade you needed. Rather than dwell on the result, start your fight back! Decide to do things differrently this time. Think about your revision and planning. What worked, what didn't? 

3. Reflect

Think back to those exam papers. Jot down what you struggled with on the day. Did you run out of time? Did you spend longer on one question at the expense of another? Did you miss out one section entirely as you were unsure how to approach it? This will help you narrow down the areas you need to spend more time on.

4. Get online

Check out the exam board online for previous papers. Most exams now publish mark schemes, and even the examiner's report for that exam season. It's definitely worth reading through past papers and checking what would have earned you higher marks. 

5. Beat the clock

Once you are more familiar with exam papers, try specific sections against the clock. Remember to time each section, aiming to stick to the time allowance. Many students lose easy marks by spending too much time on earlier questions at the expense of later questions with more marks. 

6. Check and redo

As your confidence grows, tackle a whole paper under timed conditions at a desk without distractions. No smartphone, TV, music to mirror exam conditions. Afterwards, if you have the online mark scheme, check your answers against the examiner's marks. Then... repeat. Put another 'exam' in the diary for tomorrow. 

Private tuition to sharpen up exam techniques

Can a private tutor really turn your child's fortunes round in such a short space of time? In a word, YES! Our Surrey and Sussex tutors have proved it time and again too...

This year, for instance, a batch of the best Lemon Tree tutors worked with English, Maths and Science GCSE students - all of whom were underachieving by at least one grade. How did they fare? 

English exam success:

After the first session, the student's mum emailed to say: 'My son understood more in one lesson than a term of lessons at school. We can't thank you enough.' Better still, he eventually achieved a B grade for Literature, despite D grades in his mocks. A result!

Sensational Science results:

A GCSE Science student at St George's College, Weybridge needed A and B grades to study A levels at college. Working at D/C grade, a short course of tuition with our fabulous Weybridge Science specialist helped him smash his target grades. One happy teenager with delighted parents.

Mastering Maths

Another GCSE Maths student struggling at D grade just couldn't get pass the barrier. Not only did our fantastic Weybridge tutor rescue the student's flagging confidence, but inspired her to achieve a C grade - something she never thought possible. 

The Lemon Tree Tutors' difference

What makes the difference? Simple. Every lesson with an experienced private tutor is planned with learners' needs in mind. Personalised lessons ensure individual weaknesses are targeted head on. And because the whole lesson is devoted to your child's needs, he or she can take huge leaps forward. 

Speak to head teacher Nikki de Villiers today if you are looking for a fantastic GCSE and A Level Science tutor, a KS3 and GCSE English Tutor or a KS3 and GCSE Maths tutor to help your child shine. 

It's the holidays - at last! An opportunity to look forward to new adventures, and forget past problems. 

Except our children don't dump those classroom worries in their school bag for the summer. They carry them around... 

And the number one classroom fear children have? A fear of failure. Have you ever stopped to think what psychological impact this might have?

After all, children desperately want to make you proud; they want their peers to accept them. They want to feel good about themselves. They want their teachers and parents to notice that they tried so hard, even though low marks don't reflect that.

Yet struggling in a SATs exam, doing poorly in a weekly test, failing an end of term GCSE mock exam, or getting questions wrong which they thought were right, can lead to them - over time - to feeling a failure.

It's official ... I'm rubbish

Just one single sentence in their 'end of term' report is all it takes. Though full of positives, your child will seize on phrases spelling out how they have not measured up. That they've not achieved the 'expected' learning outcome - despite all their effort, or if that they've still not moved up a set alongside their friends.

Instead your child will read this as a sign that they're 'rubbish' - whether at Maths, English, Science, or another subject.

The problem is that worries like these play on the mind. They knock us inside. Eventually, if we think we are rubbish at something, we start believing it. And in some cases, we even hate ourselves for it. That's the real worry...

Classroom shame doesn't stay there

If you've EVER heard your child denigrate themselves, you'll know it's devastating. The child you love is struggling before you, before they've even got going in life. 

Yet the signs have been there all year... The endless homework battles, or them saying they don't need your help while you watch them struggle like mad by themselves. Perhaps they've been angry or aggressive at home.. 

The truth is: children often mask how they really feel as they can't verbalise it so well. They remember that time when they felt useless compared to their peers, or when a teacher wrote 'try harder' when they'd tried their best.  

Children sqirm with shame at failing, and then get stuck there unable to move out of the hole they feel trapped in.

What can you do to help?

Fight feelings of failure head on

1. Promote a positive mindset

Always praise effort to balance out perceived failure. That's why it can help to share with children that you used to find specific subjects hard at school. Empathy is a powerful antidote to shame. 

Knowing that everyone struggles at something in life can help put their experience into perspective, and help them see it more positively. 

2. Be proud to be human

Perfection is sometimes possible, but most of the time it's not. If we can help our children to accept that failing is part of growing up, then we'll do a good job. 

3. Teach resilience

The only way to handle falling off a bike is to get up and on it again. A bad test mark isn't the end of the world. A lower than expected exam grade isn't written in stone. These marks and grades are transient during the learning process. 

The trick is to teach our children that nothing in life is truly a 'fail' if you learn from it.

Summer tuition to get back on track

Maybe your child is in year 10, and performed badly in their 'end of term' exams? With just two official terms left - give or take a few weeks in May '17 - our teeangers will already be full of worries about how they'll catch up next year.

A spell of tuition over the summer could help them find their way forward, instead of feeling stuck in the past. Especially helpful too if your child is sitting an entrance exam soon or starting a new year at school - and you're worried they are not ready.

As parents tell us every year, it's amazing the difference tuition can make when the pressure of school is off. As one of our tutee's parents shared last summer:

'Thank you for the excellent English tuition for our 13 year old son James this summer. In his words, the tutor was really calm, explained things clearly and gave him so much help for next year. His confidence has hugely improved from just a couple of months ago. Thank you for everything.'

With Maths, Science and English tutors across the Weybridge area, and now English and KS2 teachers available in the Chichester district, do drop us an email to see how we can help. 


Page 1 of 8

Lemmy's Latest