Thursday, 3 August 2017

How to Survive A Level Results Day 2017

This blog on How To Survive A level Results Day is by Higher Education Consultant Sally Markowska, an expert in university applications. 
  • Do not go to bed very late the night before Thursday August 17th. This is going to be a long, significant day, whatever your results. You will need to remain calm, cool and collected as you may need to make quick decisions.
  • Ask a parent or mature friend to make themselves available to you either in person or on the phone; whatever way the results go, you will need someone to share tears of joy or pain.
  • Get your UCAS log in details ready the night before- you will need these and you do not want to be scrabbling around for them.
  • It would help to have ready the telephone numbers of the direct lines to the admissions’ departments of your firm and insurance places; if you need to speak to someone at these places, you will have the data ready.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is charged.
  • At 8am UCAS Track will spring to life: your firm choice may confirm your place (it will say UNCONDITIONAL) OR it may not. Do NOT panic if you cannot get online or your universities haven’t posted anything yet. Remember UCAS will not post your exam results but may show if your place at university has been confirmed.
  • If your firm place is confirmed, dance around the kitchen and call Granny. You will receive the AS12 email from UCAS: read it carefully and respond accordingly.
  • If it showing as ‘Conditional’, don’t panic: it may not have been updated OR you have your insurance place OR you will have to get ready to find somewhere else.
  • EAT something: will help your energy levels even if you feel nauseous at the thought of what is to come…
  • Before your results are given to you either in school, online or on the phone, make sure you have your mobile, a pen and paper and a calm, supportive adult (if possible).
  • Once you have your results confirmed, you will know where you stand.
  • YOU HAVE MET YOUR FIRM OFFER: Well done! Feel proud and open the champagne.
  • YOU HAVE MET YOUR INSURANCE OFFER: Well done! You have a place at one of your top two university choices! You will have to tell the Student Loan Company and contact this university to sort out accommodation.
  • YOU HAVE DONE BETTER THAN PREDICTED AND THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TO APPLY TO A UNIVERSITY WITH HIGHER GRADE REQUIREMENTS: This is called Adjustment and you do not have to give up your firm place to enter into this stage. Look on the UCAS website for more details.
  • YOU HAVE MISSED BOTH YOUR OFFERS FOR FIRM AND INSURANCE PLACES: This is hard, especially if your friends are shrieking with delight all around you. Try to go somewhere quiet to talk with someone you trust. Your school will have helped many students in this position so listen to their advice. Don't worry, soon with careful thinking and acting, you will have a plan.
  • It is worth calling your insurance university to see if they can still consider you. They may even offer you a different course. Don’t make hasty decisions about this; make time to look at the course content to make sure you would be happy studying this subject.
  • CLEARING: If you have missed both your offers, you will be entered automatically into Clearing. The UCAS website will list all available courses- search by subject and be open to different courses/institutions.
  • You may wish to re-take your A Levels- this is a perfectly respectable course to take. We all make mistakes and, learning from them and moving on is a mature approach to take. You could see it as a year to re-think, re-adjust and perhaps get a part-time job.If you decide to defer your place, you will need to contact your university and ask if they will hold your place for another year. Gap years spent wisely can be an excellent way to gain life experience before you go to study again.
If you would like to get more advice about University choices or clearing you can find out more about how our team can help you here. 


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Why Books are the Perfect Christmas Present

The holidays are coming up fast, and schools will soon be on their Christmas breaks. Even though many students have holiday work to complete – especially those with revision to do for spring exams - education can often take a back seat to make way for celebrations, friends and family. And those things are, of course, very important. But so is keeping young brains active and learning during the holidays. The best way to do this is to encourage them to read at every opportunity.

Reading is one of the simplest pleasures. 21st Century children are surrounded by technology – games consoles, television, tablets, mobile phones. Whilst the latest tech is sure to take pride of place at the top of your children’s Christmas wish list, don’t forget to wrap a few books up under the tree this year.

The benefits of reading in extending your child’s knowledge and understanding of literacy and vocabulary are certainly proven.  Not just for enjoyment, starting a life-long relationship with books is crucial for stretching the imagination, developing new interests and expanding knowledge. Instilling a wide vocabulary, comprehension and accurate spelling skills are essential benefits of reading, putting in place the foundations for success in education in the future. Not to mention reading brings hours of entertainment – it’s learning, without your children even noticing they’re doing it. It keeps their minds active and their imaginations running riot; engross them in a good book and you’ll find them desperate to sit quietly and get lost in those wonderful fictional worlds. Talk to them about what they’re reading and you’ll be amazed at how they can chat away like scholars about an amazing story.

Why not challenge your child to real a certain number of books over Christmas too? Perhaps they can tackle a novel longer than any they’ve read before, or try to read five or six short stories from a collection whilst you’re preparing Christmas dinner.

During family time, ask your child to read aloud to you. Share the reading with them – not just for the wonderful experience of reading with your child, but also to teach listening and public speaking skills. Discuss the meaning of words and their comprehension as you go along. You may find they’re ready to read above the level you’ve been pitching their book choices at.

Above all, it is important to make reading fun and accessible. Books should be displayed all around your home – the kitchen, bedrooms, living room, even the bathroom. Recent research has actually linked the number of books in your home directly to academic achievement (more on that here: so there are no excuses for not providing your children with as many books as you can.

Give them something fun this Christmas that also helps them learn. Books are a perfect Christmas present, because you’re helping your children grow academically, as well as emotionally, whilst also providing them long term entertainment to stimulate their minds in a way no technology could.

Looking for ideas on what to give them to read? We’ve got some recommendations below for children of all ages:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
The Bear, The Snowman, both by Raymond Briggs
End of Term by Antonia Forest
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Mog’s Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston
Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Skellig, The Fire Eaters, both by David Almond
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Happy Hanukkah, Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively
Shadow by Michael Morpurgo
Percy Jackson by Rick Riodan
The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstain
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones
Blitz Boys by Linda Newberry
Rubies in the Snow by Date Hubbard
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora
Young Bond by Charlie Higson
Cat Royal by Julia Golding
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Lionboy by Zizou Corder
Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington
The Alchemist by H. P. Lovecraft
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Forbidden Game by Malorie Blackman
Angel Pig and the Hidden Christmas by Jan L. Waldron
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
My True Love Game to Me by Stephanie Perkins
Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer

Need childcare for the holidays and unsure about the options?

Our online store has guides on all areas of UK Education including financial aid, interview preparation and questions to ask on a school visit.


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Some top tips for interviewing successfully for schools, universities and graduate jobs

It's an important time of year - young people all across the UK are preparing for interviews at senior schools, sixth forms, universities and graduate jobs. Below are a few of our top interview tips, whatever level you're studying at.

First impressions are important. That means your appearance, your greeting and your body language. Dress appropriately - if the interview is for a school place, dress smartly (students and accompanying parents) or in school uniform if needs be. If it is for university, be sure to show some individual flair, but keep it somewhat formal. For graduate jobs, dress formally - office wear or smart fashionable clothing depending on where you are interviewing. Keep good posture, a strong and positive handshake (but not bone crunching), make eye contact and remember to smile. 

Research the institution or company you wish to join. Appearing well-informed about what it offers and why that appeals to you will give a positive impression, but reading ahead will also help you to understand why it does appeal to you. What is it you like about that school, university or company? Give some thought to what skills and capabilities you are able to offer within the environment of each individual institution. What would you personally bring to the table that would impress? Have some examples at the ready which demonstrate contributions you have made in these areas in the past to back up your claims and be confident about your skills and achievements.

Who will be interviewing you? If you are notified in advance who will be conducting the interview, research their role and what their specific areas of interest might be. It is easier to engage with a person if you have identified some common ground. But remember to be truthful at all times too. You could get into a sticky area if you make a claim that you can’t back-up during discussion via in-depth knowledge or examples.

Back up every answer with a why, how or because. Just answering the question without stating why you have that opinion or giving examples of how you have previously used a skill or attribute within a relevant situation, is only half an answer. Having a full argument or explanation shows your knowledge, experience, but also that you have come well prepared for the day.

If you need time to think, ask the interviewer to repeat the question or perhaps ask a question of your own to clarify. This will buy a bit of time, putting the ball back into their court, giving you time to consider your answer. Always be prepared with a few questions to ask at the end in any case, as this is your best opportunity to find out more about the institution or company, and demonstrate your eagerness to be part of it. Good Luck!

If you are looking for help with senior school interviews or interviews for scholarships or bursaries, why not look at our digital guide on Interview Preparation? Available on our online store via the link below.

Our online store has guides on all areas of UK Education including financial aid, interview preparation and questions to ask on a school visit.


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education. If you would like interview advice for sixth form, university or jobs, to book in a practice interview session with one of our experts or help with any other education questions you may have, email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ten Top Financial Tips for Expats in China

1. Save 10% of your income
On an expat package it’s easy to spend all of your disposable income. Set up a savings account and direct 10% of your income before you spend it.

2. Keep updated with your pension(s)
When you’re far away from home you can lose track of your pensions. A suitably qualified financial adviser based in China can obtain up-to-date valuations on your behalf.

3. Explore international opportunities
When you are away from home, be aware that you have a wealth of global opportunities before you

4. Plan ahead for your children’s education
Many people under-estimate the cost of their children’s education. Children educated in International Schools will often choose to attend international universities. In addition, global education costs are inflating at around 7.5%. Set aside sufficient funds to cover your children’s future.

5. Consolidate your assets
Expats typically leave assets in several countries. Consolidate these so they are accessible to your loved ones in the event of something unexpected happening to you.

6. Review your will
What was appropriate at home may not be valid in China. Review your will with an expert in international law.

7. Don’t let RMB accumulate
Officially, RMB in Chinese banks is owned by the Chinese Government! Many banks place restrictions on the amount of RMB that can be taken out of the country in a year. Regularly transfer RMB into a currency that is matched to your long-term planning.

8. Open an offshore bank account
An offshore bank account offers many advantages to expats, including easy access to your money as you move around China and Asia

9. Plan both medium and long-term
The glamour and excitement of expat life offers immediate gratification. However, expat life also offers medium and long-term windows of opportunity. Whilst these might not be glamorous, don’t go home with nothing more than memories.

10. Consult a specialized financial adviser
Expats face a world of opportunities ranging from tax optimization to international planning. A good adviser will be aware of all your options, as well as the longer-term picture, including what happens when you return home or move to another location.

This guest post by:

Howard Whiteson
Senior Wealth Manager, DeVere Group

For complimentary initial planning contact Howard:
+86 156 9214 1599

If you are an expat or international parent looking to send your child to school in the UK, consider our digital guide on the UK Education System:

Our online store has guides on all areas of UK Education including financial aid, interview preparation and questions to ask on a school visit.


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

School Open Days and Visits

Many schools have their open days around this time of year, and it is always important to visit your top school choices to make sure they really are a good fit for you and your child.With that in mind, The Independent Education Consultants have put together this short video on what to think about and ask during an open day in order to make the most of it. Be sure to take notes on each school when you visit to compare later.

On our online store has more guides and advice on this topic - find what we have on offer at Of particular interest would be our 'Questions to Ask on a School Visit' resource - take this helpsheet along with you to ensure you get answers to the pressing questions you have – it also contains our best tips on visiting schools and space to make your own notes, so you can compare your top school choices after the visits. This fantastic resource is just £4.99 and can be used again and again.



We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Oaka: Smashing Through the SEN Ceiling

Smashing through the SEN ceiling

The Government’s 2014-15 statistics showed that children with special educational needs (SEN) and learning disabilities accounted for just over half of all school exclusions. This is a perfect demonstration of the way in which, sadly, SEN pupils frequently lack the same level of engagement and encouragement when it comes to education as their peers. It’s often the case that, once a child has been diagnosed with a special educational need such as dyslexia or autism, a glass ceiling is put over their educational prospects and aspirations. They can see other children around them grasping concepts and fitting in with ease, and yet they come to feel that they’ll never be able to do the same. This becomes even more tragic when we consider the value that children with SEN can bring to the classroom – the opportunity to look at things from different perspectives and to explore academic subjects in more tactile or visual ways can benefit all children. We see, time and time again in business, the arts and sport, that people with SEN can flourish and rise to the top proving that the SEN glass ceiling is there to be smashed.

Bambi Gardiner, founder of Oaka Books, which creates revision resources for dyslexic students and visual learners, believes that a SEN label should not limit any child from achieving their true potential, but understands that it can be challenging for parents and teachers to know how best to engage them in their learning. She discusses how, by approaching teaching and learning in a slightly different way, we can prevent SEN students from becoming disenfranchised with their education.

Let’s face it, we all love doing things we are good at. Imagine yourself as the pupil who never answers a question in class. With a little preparation, you can be ready to make that leap in your next lesson. The impact of getting that one answer right in front of your peers cannot be underestimated. It may, at times, be more difficult to retain the attention of a child with SEN, especially when you’re confronting them with things that can be confusing and nerve-racking, such as reams of text in an exercise book or a lengthy session of silent working. But, when you do capture their attention and ignite their enthusiasm for exploring and learning, the result can be magical!

All children possess a natural curiosity and a desire to obtain new information; they question the world around them, and children with SEN are no different. All that’s different is the way in which these natural inclinations need to be harnessed and channelled by parents and teachers to help the child achieve academically. But this needs to be addressed early in order that they are not ‘turned off’ their schooling.

Rather than suppressing a SEN student’s need to move around the classroom, ask questions, play with objects around them and talk to their peers, encourage the whole class to explore learning in this way. Get students up and out of their seats, analysing academic concepts in more physical and practical ways. And if you notice that one of your SEN students is not engaging with the activity in hand, why not provide them with some alternative ways of absorbing the same knowledge, such as through crafting an illustrated story to explain a historical event, or playing an educational game where each correct answer on a series of topics brings you closer to the reward at the end? Creating an open environment in which learning can take many forms will help SEN students to flourish and discover what works well for them, rather than feeling stifled and alienated from learning.

Once a child, and their parents and teachers, have recognised the ways in which they learn best, and a way of expressing their ideas that puts them at ease and helps them to feel confident in their ability to learn, there really is no limitation to how much they can achieve. For instance, a child who struggles with dyslexia may find it almost impossible to read an entire novel, and so how are they going to prepare for their English Literature exams?

Firstly, the barrier to effective learning – in this case the physical novel – needs to be removed as the primary learning resource, and other ways of engaging the student with the story and its characters, themes and messages need to be found. This could be through role play, drawing pictures of the characters and annotating them with their attributes, or creating a visual storyboard of the plot. How about using character cards to re-enact the story? A simple, effective way to aid memory recall for both English and history topics.

Remember, the end goal is the same for each student: to engage with the story, comprehend its plot, characters, themes, devices and so on, and be able to communicate this. The fact that one child may be able to achieve this by sitting quietly and reading the novel by themselves, whereas another may need to move around, discuss and make things to engage with the novel is immaterial.

With this in mind, it’s important for parents and teachers, and SEN students themselves, to appreciate that SEN need not be a barrier to achieving great things. Time simply needs to be spent on exploring the various ways that information can be communicated until SEN students find ways that work for them. Fortunately, there are a number of learning resources designed specifically for students with SEN which are a great place to start this exploratory process.

Time and time again we, at Oaka, are told of SEN pupils who have far exceeded their exam expectations because they have used different learning strategies. They have gained confidence that they never believed possible. Setting our SEN pupils up to achieve can have a huge impact on where life takes them. It may be a more scenic route and with some rough terrain, but, if the will is there, many of them can achieve their dreams.

This has been a guest post by Oaka Books. Find their products on their site or on our online store at


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Audiopi: The Advantages of Auditory Learning

Audiopi is brand new educational resource which uses the power of audio to really engage students in a fun and informative way. Learning through the medium of audio has long been a tradition and this is how knowledge has been passed on through the generations. There is plenty of evidence to support this way of learning, and given today’s technology, Audiopi has embraced this.

Nearly all students wear headphones, listening to music or podcasts, so Audiopi has created a series of curriculum specific audio tutorials which match what they need to learn throughout the course of a subject they are studying and to prepare them for their exams.

The system is simple. Each series of audio tutorials follows the specification students are learning. 

Each series has, on average, 15-30 tutorials and each tutorial will cover a specific element of the course, such as the characters in a book or particular period of history.

Click to listen to some examples (the first tutorial is free and you can listen to samples to!)

The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde - English Literature GCSE

Modern Britain 1930-1997 – History A Level

Physics – Physics iGCSE

The tutorials can be listened to at a time when suits the student, such as in the car on the way to school, walking the dog or just relaxing at home. They can listen to them via their phone, PC, tablet or laptop and can be used for class preparation, essay research and as a revision tool for their GCSE’s or A Levels.

To ensure they provide the student with the necessary knowledge, the tutorials have been written by experienced teachers, exam board examiners and specialist academics so the students know they are getting some of the finest tutors available.

They currently have English Literature, History and Physics audio tutorials available and will be launching more subjects over the coming months.

Tutorials are very cost effective, especially as you can listen to them time and time again. Series cost just £14.99 and individual tutorials just £1.99. 

This has been a guest post by Audiopi. Watch out for their products, soon to be available on our online store at


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit