Michelle Mapstone, Founder of Word Academy
Creating vibrant English tuition classes where students can feel confident to grow, takes risks and, ultimately, learn
I’ve loved books my entire life. I was the kid who didn’t want to go to afterschool clubs because I was desperate to get home to my ‘Mallory Towers’ book and then act it out. Later, English classes fuelled my zeal for classic literature thanks to inspiring discussions concerning the works of Shakespeare, Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood. My mind was made up pretty early on that I just HAD to work with books!
The journey towards my dream career started at the University of Newcastle and also McGill University in Canada, where I obtained a 2:1 in English Literature. I then spent a year working in book publishing but discovered that the role didn’t allow me to get to the real meatiness of the text. That’s when I decided to train to be an English teacher – studying in London at Roehampton University.
I’ve been teaching for 11 years now – more than 10 of which were spent in mainstream education and I’ve had Word Academy since September last year. Leaving the classroom behind to launch my own business felt like the right thing to do for a multitude of reasons, so I converted my garden house at home in Oxenhope into a tranquil space, which I see as being the perfect environment to inspire young people to learn.
As a tutor, my role is be to be approachable and to cheerlead, which is why the classes I run are small so that I can devote plenty of one-to-one time to pupils.
As well as the classes, I also run a membership group which doles out daily study tasks and information for secondary-age students and, most recently, a unique and flexible online programme for pupils to help them through GCSE English Language for the AQA board. My online courses are aimed at middle-ability students who are striving to get Levels 4 to 7 in their English studies.
In all my years of teaching, I’ve never found a child that I haven’t managed to get to love at least one book that I have taught them. Teaching is a profession I love and it’s a privilege to help all my students.