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Important Security Announcement

We don’t update this blog often, but from time to time something significant happens that we feel the need to update you on.

Earlier this week we experienced something very unfortunate. Our office was broken into by opportunistic thieves. Valuables including laptops, printers and even a kettle – yes, a kettle! – were stolen.

When we got to the office the next day, it was like a dream seeing everything scattered and disorganized, with doors hanging off hinges and files and paperwork scattered everywhere. 

I’m not ashamed to admit, there were a few tears shed.

We immediately contacted the Police. It took them nearly ten hours before an officer was sent, and a further three hours before a DNA analysis team came to take fingerprints around the office.

Now, as frightening an experience as this was, we want to reassure you that no personal details or data of clients, children or teachers was taken during this burglary. The stolen laptops contain no confidential information and our company policy has been to safely host data on third party encrypted sites.

There’s a lot of talk in the news at the moment about the new GDPR legislation, created precisely to protect data getting into the wrong hands. Fortunately for us, we’ve been taking safeguards like this for many years now, and we’d like to assure you that all your data is safe.

Naturally we’ve been forced to reassess our office security, and we have subsequently installed an office alarm and contracted a London roller shutter repair company to install metal roller shutters on our front and back entrances.

Whilst the events of this week have obviously knocked the wind out of our sales, we will be back to work as of Monday 28th May 2018.

We apologize for any delay and inconvenience this may have caused.

Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to resuming business as usual next week.

Which countries have the best education systems?

There’s a worrying trend at the moment in the UK of teachers quitting their jobs.
To make matters worse, we’re losing potentially fantastic new teachers to other careers as a result of sub standard pay.

One of the biggest complaints most experienced teachers have is a disillusionment with the examinations youngsters are made to sit.

There’s also a growing distrust and resentment at the fact they feel their opinions are being ignored by legislators, and their role is to teach kids how to pass exams, not necessarily learn, an assertion supported by the fact that 1 in 5 children finish school without a basic level of education.

Is it any surprise then, that in a recent rankings table for Science and Maths for 15 year old the UK was ranked 20th behind countries such as Taiwan, Poland, Vietnam and Ireland?

That raises the question…which countries have the best modern education systems and what are they doing differently?

Based on PISA scores (assessing reading, mathematics and science literacy), Finland has traditionally topped most lists (ranking 1st in 2000, 20003, 2006 and near the top every other year).

This year however, they’ve fallen down the rankings not so much due to any change in their system, but more so due to the incredible growth of East Asian countries.

In fact, all top 5 countries in this years list come from the East Asian region, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. In fact, you may recall a speech I gave in 2013 predicting such an event.

The cultural importance these affluent nations place on learning, coupled with the intense competition the students face both amongst their peers and when it comes to the jobs market spurs them on to higher overall scores.

But the biggest difference?

It’s not competition or culture. It’s investment in teachers. To give you an example, the number one ranked country, Singapore, is famous for giving very healthy bonuses and very attractive salaries – enough to attract the top teachers from around the world.

There’s an implicit understanding that the investment they place on their education will come back around to benefit their economy, which goes a long way to explaining why these nations have seen such huge improvements in the strength of their economic systems over the last few decades.

By contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, the lowest performing nations on the PISA rankings include Morocco, Honduras, South Africa and Ghana, all countries that are struggling economically.

It’s a catch 22 situation – if you don’t have the funds, how can you invest in teachers?

Here’s where the international community has to step in. As the famous saying goes, give a man a fish and he can eat for a day; give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself…well perhaps we need to think about this when it comes to giving grants and international aid.

Rather than spending on “international projects” that end up in contractors (or worse, government) pockets, is it not better to directly aid their education system?

The OECD has estimated that if Ghana can meet universal basic skill goals, their GDP would rise 38 times over the lifetime of a child.

And going back to our nation, I believe we need to go back to a time where education was all about learning a subject, not just instilling a ‘here’s what you need to know in order to pass your exam’ culture.

25 Quotes Every Teacher Must Read

Teaching is one of the hardest – and often most underappreciated – jobs in the world.

As a teacher, it can sometimes all seem too much, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Books to mark, lessons to plan, grades to achieve…oh, and that inspection is coming up soon too!

It’s important to sometimes take a step back and re-connect with what led you down this career path in the first place.

Why did you choose to become a teacher?

I bet it was born of a genuine desire to help others and a desire to have a life long impact on the next generation.

Am I right?

Everyone remembers a great teacher (although conversely, everyone also remembers a bad teacher too. You don’t want to be one of those!)

So, to keep you motivated and inspired; to help you if you’re feeling down or considering leaving the profession (please don’t), here’s a neat little graphic that’s been created by AAA State entitled 25 inspirations quotes for teachers.

This will help you to reconnect and fall back in love with the most reward profession there is.


university lectures

Universities risk being left behind. Here’s why

Universities risk being left behind because of their inability to keep up-to-date and embrace modern technology.

The fact that most universities still rely on the outdated system of a tutor standing at the front of the class and lecturing to students (rather than working in a collaborative environment with the help of technology) goes a long way to explaining the failings of modern universities and why they’re in real danger of being left behind.

Consider the modern student – they have grown up in a digital era with the ability to research anything independently and learn from some of the greatest minds, typically for free, online, via blog posts, videos or other disseminated material.

Their modus operandi, even when interacting with friends, is to discover, share, converse and engage in real time using platforms optimised for such purposes (think Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc).

Compare this to the University system.

First and foremost, before in stepping foot in a classroom, students are burdened with life changing sums of debt they must then spend the next 20 years repaying. This is a slap in the face for generations used to free and on demand – free streaming of movies, free downloads of music etc.

They are expected to meekly accept the fact that the lecturer stood at the front of the class knows all, is the sage of all knowledge.  And to make matters worse, they must studiously and diligently make notes from the monologues being shared so that when examination time comes they have enough short-term memory to be able to pass.

I’d argue that this style of learning lends itself to students and later employees that are incapable of independent freethinking and thought. It fosters and environment where students expect to be told how to think rather than analyse the situation independently.

In its current format, is this something we can allow to continue unabated? I believe not.

In every other area of life, technology is making huge strides. It’s about time that the university education system also began to embrace such technology.

In particular, care must be taken to foster a collaborative learning environment where students can attend classes to further drill down on concepts, and aid independent free thought. A great example of this is a “just in time” approach, where up to a few hours prior to the start of the lessons, students can submit their questions (arising as a result of independent learning), and the tutors can then spend their time dissecting and aiding any issues the class has struggled with.

In this fashion, rather than expect students to sit in a room and be lectured to, that same time is better spent encouraging discussion, debate and collaboration that the students themselves have requested, utilising technology that we already have on hand to help with this.

If the information is already available online (or can easily be made so), surely it makes much more sense to spend class time helping to work through any questions rather than sharing that readily available info? Wouldn’t that be a better use of both the students time, and the lecturers expertise?

As such, in my eyes at least, the issue is how do we use what we already have in the best possible way?

If and when we start using technology to its fullest, it will ensure a learning deeper than just the root level, and will help ensure concepts are actually learnt (and a true passion born), not a situation we currently see where info is memorized in order to pass an exam, then instantly forgotten.

There’s no doubt that this would contribute to a better experience for students, lecturers and  employees too – win, win for all concerned

how to tutor online

Online Tutoring Using Skype

In the fast paced world of information technology and global communication systems, the education industry has also evolved with the creation of virtual universities, online tuition centers and skill building courses.

Students can now complete their degrees online with virtual universities, and can improve skills in just about any area of their lives using a vast array of courses – from cake decorating and dog training to accounting and astrophysics, it’s all just a click away.

This change has also created a huge opportunity for online tutors.

Communication tools such as Skype have made online tutoring accessible to everyone. People looking for self-employment opportunities can easily start their own business teaching others any skills they may have.

To make it easier for you to grab a piece of this lucrative pie, we’ve created a quick checklist to help you set up your online tutoring business using Skype:

Get the Basics

In order to start an online tutoring business, you don’t need to spend extravagantly, you can just jump on your computer, plug in your headphone and load up your webcam.

If your laptop has all the above features already and you know what you want to teach you’re good to go.

Talk about low cost setup!

Who said starting a business had to be expensive?

Setup Skype

Skype is a great way to communicate with your students in real time, by showing your video and seeing them online.

They can not only hear your voice but can also see you, so all you need to do is download Skype, logon to the system and start teaching.

Need a Whiteboard? Use Skype Again

Another great thing about Skype is you can also use the screen sharing option to use paint and use it as a white board. In addition there are add-ons and applications like Idroo that can be integrated with Skype for effective tutoring.

Document Sharing

Well now that you have gotten your online classroom and a white board, how can you share assignments and important reference material in the document form?

Yep…you guessed it. Skype’s your friend yet again! In addition to using tools like google docs for real time editing you can use Skype to share files and your students can use Skype to share files with you.


Now you might be thinking, but what about payment? Does skype allow you to do that, too?

Unfortunately not, but services such as Paypal, Payoneer, Stripe or Skill are all good ways for your students can pay you.

It’s advisable to charge lessons in advance or take partial payments so you ensure you get paid for all your great work (the last thing you want is someone doing a runner!).

With technology if you have skills there are no limits to what you can achieve. With options such as Skype you can set up your online tutoring business easily and add to your earnings or open up your own business if you are looking for self-employment opportunities.

Awesome video for teaching tools

Here’s our first post – we wanted to share something that a lot of teachers might find useful. How many of these 101 free teaching tools have you used?