I qualified as a teacher in 1986 and my first job was with ILEA in Hackney. This was a world away from my Hampshire roots but I absolutely loved it. So many children from varying backgrounds speaking different languages and practising different religions. It was a steep learning curve but I immersed myself in the work and I loved every day!
After two years I got a job in Tower Hamlets and became a class teacher with responsibility for literacy. The children here were mostly from Bangladeshi backgrounds and at the age of 24 I had the opportunity to visit Bangladesh over the Christmas holidays. The children in my class were delighted when I came back with photos from their parents' homeland and with various artefacts. Those were the days when teachers were able to base a whole scheme of work on subjects of their own choosing, and so I was able to independently plan a topic based on Bangladesh. Of course the whole project was a great success because we were all so personally involved and I was so enthusiastic.
I was a full-time class teacher for 10 years altogether but at the tender age of 32 I was completely exhausted! Knowing I still wanted to teach, I worked out a way of going part-time whilst starting to privately tutor children from the school I was working in. Slowly my joie de vivre returned and I felt able to breathe again!
Tutoring meant I could really focus on the individual, something that was becoming impossible when I was teaching 30 children in London with no Teaching Assistant support.
To start with I offered English, Maths, flute and piano tuition and even had one girl who came for two hours - half hour on each subject!
Our move from London to Brighton in 2003 meant building up my tutoring practice from scratch. At that time I was teaching both adults and children since I had many adult piano students. It was a hard move leaving them all behind but the pull of Brighton was too much!
After many years coming across the word 'dyslexia' and tutoring children who had had a dyslexia assessment, I felt I wanted to learn more. So in 2005 I qualified as a specialist dyslexia tutor at the Dyslexia Institute (now Dyslexia Action) and have Approved Teacher Status with the British Dyslexia Association.
I was able to combine my specialist dyslexia tuition with jobs as a Learning Support Teacher. I worked at Itchingfield Junior School, West Sussex; St Aubyns Independent School, Rottingdean; and Dyslexia Action in Tonbridge.
Being a freelance tutor and feeling in charge of my working day is something I love most of all! It also means I can walk our dogs in the mornings, do my composing during the day (Hilary Burt Music), and start teaching at 4.00pm.
My private practice - Spotty Dog Tutoring - is based in my garden office one minute from Brighton Station. I have everything to hand and it really is an aladdin's cave of educational fun!!
We approached Hilary when it became clear in secondary school that W. was lacking some of the basic foundation blocks in reading and spelling. Hilary gave him a whistle stop tour of phonics again and encouraged him to read for enjoyment. (something he had stopped doing) At first I thought he wouldn't be on board with extra lessons after school - but he seemed to look forward to them and was fully engaged throughout. It was just the springboard he needed to keep up with the rest of his year group.
Michelle - parent
My reading has definitely improved since I started lessons with Hilary. Before, I would skip out the long, hard words but now I will give them a go. I enjoy reading more now. Not only did it help me with my grammar, reading and spelling but it also helped my confidence speaking to another adult.
W. age 13 Year 8
O. just got his school report today. We are all so delighted with the improvement in his English. We talked about improving his spelling this summer to set him up for success in Year 6. He told us he can already spell autumn and column and he always thinks of your writing on the card when he learns new words!
So, you still have an influence now. Thank you!
(email received in July 2021 - this student had stopped lessons 7 months earlier)
Hilary has been the most brilliant and wonderful support for the last
4 years. My daughter was struggling to read even the most basic words
in Year 2 - and with Hilary's amazing teaching she's now reading Harry
Potter! Having weekly sessions has made the world of difference - not
just with literacy, but with my daughter's overall confidence. Hilary
instills a sense of accomplishment and pride and also FUN into the
process, and it has been an absolute pleasure to have had her in our
lives. Hilary - thank you so so much, we'll miss you! xx
Frances - parent
Spotty Dog with Hilary always puts me in a good mood - even over Lockdown! I've had so many fun memories and learnt so much. P - 10 years old
A massive thank you for all you have done for T. You took him to another level.
Alex - parent
Hilary is great! She has helped me with columns in Maths and my beanbag spellings are much better. If I don’t understand something she breaks it down and we go through it slowly. She is kind, patient, funny and she loves dogs!! B - 8 years old
Quite frankly you’ve been a game changer for B. Your approach has been so warm and nurturing yet so effective. Thank you a million times over! Holly - parent
Thank you for all your help with S - you have been wonderful for her. I'm sorry she will have to leave you. You have been quite a find and we will miss you. S - parent
Thank you so much for teaching me. My spelling has got much, much better and my reading is really good! Thanks a lot. M - 9 years old
Thank you for everything you have done over the last five years for A. It is very much appreciated! Gemma - parent
(I started teaching A. when she was 7 and continued with weekly sessions supporting her through her primary education and into the first year of Secondary)
I think along with the excellent teaching, you have provided a safe place for M. (and me!) while we digested the dyslexia 'news'. We will miss you! Anna - parent
It seems no time since I emailed you about W's A level results but he's just graduated in Architecture from Bath...time flies. Thanks again Hilary for your support in the crucial years. (I taught W. between 2006 and 2009!) Bernie - parent
Thank you for taking C. under your wing. From being a virtual non-reader and believing himself to be a failure, you gave him the confidence and skills to overcome this negative view of himself. C. is now a reader and sees himself as such. He reads with confidence and is not afraid of tackling the occasional new word.
Many thanks again.
Hilary Burt helped my daughter with her dyslexia over a period of 4 years. During that time my daughter blossomed under her expert tuition and emerged as a confident reader and writer. Hilary's lessons are always fun, creative and expertly targeted. If you are looking for a dyslexia tutor for your child, I cannot recommend her highly enough. Eve - parent
My 9 year old daughter has been having lessons with Hilary for 18 months and more recently some Maths booster sessions. Since lessons started, R.'s confidence has grown beyond belief! She was scared of reading, writing or trying anything new. She now reads everything she can, to anyone who will listen. Hilary's catch phrase, "You never know, so give it a go!" has become our mantra. The maths sessions have also made a huge difference to R. They have given her the know how and confidence to approach mathematical problems alone and strategies to help in the classroom.
Hi Hilary, I just wanted to get in touch to personally thank you for all your support over the last few years. H's reading, writing and spelling have improved so much with your help, and he has always found the sessions fun! Importantly, he is much more confident in literacy work at school, and now enjoys reading at home. Thanks again, and all the best for the future.
When my mum told me I was having extra lessons on Tuesdays I didn't know what to say. But on the first lesson I loved it! You made it fun and anything that's fun is even more fun.
Once again thank you so much ; ) Harry - 10 years old
Your lessons have given Harry so much confidence. He now enjoys English at school and is happy and confident when doing homework to the point that he says that I don't need to help him. The comments at parents evening have all been positive. Your lessons have had a huge impact in H.'s test results Thank you for all your help and support. Siobhan - parent
Hilary has been a wonderful tutor for our daughter who is dyslexic. Hilary is calm, very consistent and has helped our daughter gain knowledge and confidence throughout the past year and a half. She has developed a structured programme which targets our daughter's specific learning needs. I highly recommend Hilary in every respect. Thank you Hilary! Frederique - parent
Hilary is great and wonderful. She is great because we do lots of fun things together. She is such a fantastic teacher for kids. S - 9 years old
From the very first, Hilary demonstrated a gift for recognising and responding to individual needs which, coupled with a cheerful and stimulating style of delivery, ensured positive outcomes in the children's learning. Working from a secure knowledge of the issues and features of specific learning difficulties, she mapped her teaching closely to each pupil's learning needs, making excellent use of multi-sensory methods and working effectively with class teachers as necessary. Alison Edwards, Head of Learning Support, St. Aubyns School, Rottingdean, Brighton
Hilary has been an excellent teacher for our daughter. She is patient and professional but combines this successfully with a fun approach to learning. We have seen our daughter's confidence and abilities flourish under her tuition. We have been very happy with Hilary and would not hesitate to recommend her to other parents. Yvonne - parent
We can never thank you enough for all you did for Robin - we won't forget you! Hilary - parent
Hilary is a good tutor. She helps me so much and puts a lot of effort into helping me. She has got a lovely personality and a lovely smile. Isobel - 8 years old
Hilary is professional, reliable, friendly and approachable and in my opinion 100% trustworthy. I would not hesitate to recommend her. Nadra - parent
With Hilary you have more confidence then you would have at school. You learn a lot and her methods help you remember things. Skah - 13 years old
It's a great comfort to see S. growing with confidence in her learning. Donna - parent
Hilary is married to jazz trombonist and educator Mark Bassey. She plays alto saxophone in the Sussex Jazz Orchestra and leads her own 8 piece jazz-folk band Hilary Burt's Blue Calluna. All the music is composed by Hilary and they do regular gigs through the year.
She is also crazy about dogs and her and her husband currently share their house with Sami the Golden Retriever. I'm afraid Sami won't be in the lessons but hopefully he'll be sleeping in the house! (Lessons take place in Hilary's teaching studio in the garden).
Created and written in Brighton, UK by Hilary Burt.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.