No Larkin about: United friends' student support business is just what the doctors ordered

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 11 Aug 2017

GRIMSBY schoolfriends Dr Nicole Woodford and Dr Fiona Ritchie are celebrating the launch of their business, Larkin Tutors, specialising in academic writing support for students.

In addition to private tuition, the company offers group study skills classes and proofreading.

The pair originally met at Caistor Yarborough School, and Nicole and Fiona reconnected years later as doctoral candidates teaching at the University of Hull.

It was then that they discovered a demand from students for tuition in academic writing and study skills.

“Unfortunately, students tend to lack support from their institutions,” Fiona said. “Whether they are home students, international students, mature students or students with specific learning difficulties, many feel as though they would like a bit of extra support with their work.”

Unlike other private tuition companies that focus on subject-specific tuition, Larkin is unique in that it offers academic writing tuition solely by PhD qualified experts.

This type of support can assist students in all disciplines. “Clarity in a written piece of work is essential to gain a high mark. Having each completed 80,000-word doctoral theses, our tutors are in an ideal position to let students know which areas of their work need improvement,” explained Nicole.

Highlighting the benefits of private tuition, she also described how it is easy to lose marks for things such as grammatical errors, ambiguous sentences or errors in referencing. “We advise on all these areas while teaching students how to best express their arguments,” she said. “This type of mentoring can lead to a significant improvement in grades.” Fiona agreed, and added that the aim is to cultivate independent learning. “As a result, the skills we teach also benefit students beyond their time in education,” she said.

Despite their outstanding academic credentials, launching a business has been a steep learning curve. “Fortunately, we had an incredible amount of support from Julie Sweeney at E-Factor in Grimsby,” said Nicole, who described how she encouraged them to pitch their idea to a panel of business experts at the University of Lincoln. “We had brilliant feedback from the panel, who felt as though there was a real need for the services we offer and awarded us a grant and business support package to help us get established.”

For more information call 07454 907787, or visit

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