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