“No words can express how grateful we are for your help” Lynne’s mother
Fourteen-year-old Lynne moved to the UK from China to study at a British boarding school in Bath found for her by her parents. Her mother was advised by the school to appoint an education guardian to look after Lynne’s needs in the UK to ensure she was supported academically and pastorally when not at school, including at weekends and in school holidays.
Lynne’s mother searched online for a reputable guardian agency and chose Gabbitas Education as she had heard about Gabbitas Education in China and liked the depth of services offered within the Gold Guardianship package and the quality of our guardian families.
Both the family and Lynne were very happy with the guardianship arrangements and the care she received, but it soon became apparent that the shy and reserved Lynne was less comfortable with the choice of school. After a discussion with everyone concerned, the guardianship team referred the case to the school placements team to discuss Lynne’s situation.
The school placements team had a number of Skype and telephone meetings with Lynne and her mother, after which a brief was agreed. Lynne herself had identified several schools that she felt she might be more suited to and Gabbitas Education also made a number of suggestions for schools that would match her needs. These were discussed with the family in more detail and a shortlist of six schools was agreed.
Gabbitas Education commenced the application process with each school and, whilst she was home in China, Lynne visited Gabbitas Education in Shanghai to take UKiset (the UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test). This test has been designed and developed by education experts and was launched in 2014. The only test of its kind, UKiset assesses the academic potential and English language skills of international students to compare them against British students of the same age. Every year, thousands of international students apply to hundreds of British schools that use UKiset as their approved assessment method. One test result can also be used to apply to multiple schools, saving families time, money and stress.
Lynne’s UKiset results indicated that she was an extremely academically talented student, particularly in maths. Her English, however, was slightly weaker and she appeared to lack confidence in her abilities and in social situations, making it difficult for her to make the most of her school open day visits. She was therefore referred to the Gabbitas Education tutoring team who engaged the services of a highly experienced Oxbridge tutor to assess her English skills and agree a programme of English language tuition over several months, together with additional tutoring in GCSE biology, religion and philosophy. This comprehensive programme led to a demonstrable improvement not only in her academic performance but also in her overall confidence and social skills.
In the summer that followed Gabbitas Education was delighted to report to the family that all six schools on the shortlist had accepted her application. A programme of preparation and organisation for Lynne’s entrance exams and interviews followed, including several mock interviews both in person at the Gabbitas Education central London offices and by Skype at her existing school.
The school placements team then co-ordinated Lynne’s entrance exam and interview schedule, which took place over six days in a number of locations across the UK. As this was such a geographical challenge for Lynne from Bath, the school placement team called on the expert services of the guardianship team who put together a travel and accommodation plan which included staying with a number of different approved Gabbitas Education guardian families in the areas she was visiting. Lynne’s travel plans also included the use of our accredited and DBS checked chauffeur service, ensuring Lynne arrived on time for all her appointments.
Despite the demands of such an intensive schedule, Lynne’s determination to succeed coupled with the support from her family and the encouragement from the Gabbitas Education team enabled her to perform to her potential in all of her exams and interviews.
Within two weeks Gabbitas Education was delighted to hear that Lynne had been successful in passing all the rigorous entry processes at all the schools she had applied for, including the offer of an academic scholarship at one.
“I feel so grateful for your team’s care and effort” Lynne’s mother
Lynne and her family were equally delighted when Gabbitas Education told them the good news, and subsequently chose Westminster School which had been at the top of Lynne’s list all the way through. On starting her new in school the guardianship team will provide a new approved guardian family to look after her in London.
A Team Effort
Commenting on Lynne’s wonderful story, Maureen Hooley, Director of Services for Families and Students at Gabbitas Education, says,
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Lynne and her family to provide a co-ordinated programme of care and support that has resulted in such a positive outcome for everyone involved, not in the least Lynne whom we have seen blossom and develop in confidence and stature over the past year. We wish Lynne all the best and look forward to supporting her throughout her education journey.”
From Lynne’s host family: words by Robert Beesley
“Being a host family is all about sharing your family life with an international student who is away from home. There will be huge cultural differences for them to overcome and part of the role is to bridge the gap in their knowledge and experience, with the comfort that Gabbitas Education is only a phone call away should we need help. We have one child ourselves and began hosting students when she was just three. We have all enjoyed playing a valuable role in broadening the cross-cultural understanding of our guests over the years and were delighted when Lynne came into our lives just over a year ago.
“Lynne visits us during exeats and half-terms and has been studying diligently for her GCSEs. During her time with us we have been on a family trip to London for four days, organised a week of work experience for her and have attended parent-teacher events to report on her progress. She is very well motivated academically and worked hard to prepare for a number of new schools for her A levels. We are very pleased that she has succeeded in gaining entry to a prestigious school for her next step.
“It has been a privilege to meet Lynne and her family, via Skype and in person. We hope that coming away from her school to a home environment has enabled her to relax, try new things and get to know a real English family, however qwerky they may be!”
Lynne: in her own words
“I came to the UK because I believe it is always beneficial to have more experiences and binding both the Chinese and British education systems together will give me the best possible outcome.
“I also think living away from home really helps me to become more independent, to improve my interpersonal and communication skills and also to become familiar with working with people with different nationalities and cultures. I think this would be really beneficial in the future when I start to work.
“And finally, I visited the University of Cambridge some years ago and I was attracted to it at the first sight!”
“We knew we were seriously late in addressing what would be a very complex problem for us to navigate from abroad. It soon became obvious we had come to the right place.”
With less than a year to go, Gabbitas Education was contacted by an expat family to assist in placing their daughter, Elizabeth, in a British boarding school to start in Year 9 the following September. Whilst their daughter was a strong candidate, they had unfortunately left it quite late and had missed many of the deadlines to apply. Time was ticking and the family needed ‘boots on the ground’.
The school placement team got to work straight away; consultations were conducted and school reports carefully analysed. As a consultancy, not an agency, Gabbitas Education places special emphasis on understanding a child’s ambitions, interests, character and academic potential before using this information to find and approach suitable schools.
Elizabeth sat UKiset (the UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test) which measured her verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills as well as her maths and English abilities, and compared these to her peers in UK schools – a useful tool for any parent, school and education consultant. Gabbitas Education used this information to approach a number of schools that would suit Elizabeth’s potential and were agreeable to considering a late application.
Once a shortlist of schools was agreed, Gabbitas Education swiftly organised a week of short-notice school visits for the family at four of the UK’s leading boarding schools, one of which was even able to accommodate an overnight stay to allow Elizabeth to get a feel for the boarding environment.
Following this experience and further discussions, two schools were selected as the most suitable schools for Elizabeth of which one was a clear favourite. Next stop; entrance examinations …
Most good schools in the UK require students to pass an entrance exam and an interview in order to consider them for admission. The entrance exam may be a standard test called the Common Entrance Exam, or one set individually by the school. In both cases each school sets its own pass mark – the more selective a school, the higher the pass mark.
In Elizabeth’s case one school required Common Entrance, the other a school-specific exam. Elizabeth would also have to interview with the Headmistress of one of the schools, since that had not been possible during her school visit. Everyone connected to Elizabeth knew she had the ability to do well in her exams but that she didn’t have a lot of time to prepare and may not have covered several areas of the Common Entrance curriculum at her existing school. It was therefore agreed that the best way forward was to provide her with intensive home (residential) tuition from a respected tutor who was experienced in helping children prepare for what was ahead.
“Matthew, our tutor, was amazing, covering so much ground with our daughter without overwhelming her, and crucially giving her the confidence and right attitude to succeed in her exams. Luke, our consultant, even helped to coach our daughter for her interview, and he and Matthew genuinely shared in the elation of our daughter’s success.”
Matthew, who had been tutoring for Gabbitas Education for a number of years, was hand-picked from a pool of highly qualified (often Oxbridge educated), DBS checked tutors. Indeed, Matthew was a Cambridge graduate who had an excellent reputation for entrance exam success and, most importantly, complied with all the rigorous codes of conduct as set down by The Tutor’s Association (TTA).
Matthew set out for ten days of intensive tuition in the family home. He analysed Elizabeth’s current attainment in comparison to the British curriculum and established a programme to cover the gaps in her knowledge and to perfect her exam technique. Matthew was delighted with Elizabeth’s engagement and progress, and felt confident that she would do well, “Being able to focus on the task in hand each day created a very positive learning environment; I was able to cover the entire syllabus in a timeframe that would have been impossible with regular hourly tuition. Being with the family meant I could keep them abreast of developments and difficulties as they emerged, so they had a good all-round understanding of where their daughter was at, and what we were trying to do. Elizabeth was a delight to teach.”
Well Deserved Success
Despite the pressures of such a demanding schedule, Elizabeth rose to the occasion and performed to her potential in both of her exams and her remaining interview. It was with great joy that Gabbitas Education informed the family that she had received offers from both schools, scoring impressive marks in particular for the school of her choice.
The family’s dedicated education consultant, Luke, noted, “In this situation it was essential we acted swiftly but thoughtfully. Only by fully understanding Elizabeth’s character and potential, matched with her parents’ wishes, were we able to achieve such an excellent outcome. Our sincere congratulations go out to Elizabeth, who was a credit to herself and her family.”
“Gabbitas Education opened doors for our daughter that we could not have done on our own. They were professional, efficient and quickly gave us the confidence that we would find the right school.”
“I’ve been working with Gabbitas Education for more than four years now. I’m extremely happy with the services that they provide. Very professional, friendly, reliable consultants who are always willing to help. I have recommended them to some of my friends and they were very happy as well. I continue to work with Gabbitas Education, because I know my children are in good hands.”
The Serebryakova’s arrived from Russia wanting the best nursery, pre-prep and prep schools in London for their three young children, but didn’t have a clue where to start. A friend who had been in a similar situation recommended Gabbitas Education.
The family came into our central London office to meet one of our senior consultants, Catherine Kelsey, and after an initial fact find to understand their objectives, Catherine recommended our Diamond package of services. This was followed by interviews, entry testing and a week’s worth of school visits, after which Catherine put forward her recommendations and then helped with the applications and securing places.
All three children are now happily settled in three different top London schools, and Catherine continues to support the family as it grows and develops.
Many parents worry about getting their child into a good school, but Michael and Jonna Scherb avoided this by working with Gabbitas Educational Consultants while Jonna was pregnant. Gabbitas Education secured places for their child, Maximilian, at the very best nursery, pre- prep and prep schools in Notting Hill, London, before he was born. This has saved them time and stress, allowing them to focus on work and be a family.
Established in 1873, Gabbitas Education supports families through a range of services including school and university placement, guardians for international students, entry testing and tutoring. Schools also come to Gabbitas Education for advice on school builds, school improvement and the recruitment of teachers and senior leaders.
Michael and Jonna are a relaxed couple, despite recently starting a family, renovating their home in Knightsbridge and running their businesses. They are organised in everything they do, and this included deciding their unborn child’s future. Michael, who is Founder and General Partner of the private equity firm Appian Capital (a global investment firm), wanted to avoid the distraction of school searches he had seen friends go through. Jonna, who runs Addalit Jewellery (a luxury bespoke jewellery design business), didn’t want the pressure – and possible disappointment – of trying to secure a good school place.
The couple decided they needed support in navigating through the maze of education choices. Michael said: “I’m half Austrian and half Singaporean, born in Taiwan and grew up in the US and Germany, and Jonna is from Finland. So with little understanding of the British private schooling system and busy lives we wanted to find a company with the best experience, reputation and quality service who we could really trust. A number of our friends had used Gabbitas before and recommended them, so they were always going to be on our shortlist.”
They interviewed three education consultants when Jonna was seven months pregnant and chose Gabbitas Education after meeting Catherine Kelsey, who leads the Schools Placement Team and is also a director. Jonna said: “It was obvious Catherine had so much experience and completely understood our requirements. I have a creative background whilst Michael is more business focused, so it was a challenge to find the right solutions to match all our values. But Catherine did it – she was absolutely fantastic to work with; very pro-active, got to know us very quickly and really drove the process forward with good planning and by taking the initiative so we were always on the front foot. In fact the whole team at Gabbitas Education did a great job!”
Catherine joined Gabbitas Education in 2002, has three children who attended prestigious independent boarding schools and more than 20 years of experience working in the independent school sector, making her highly respected within the industry. Catherine said: “Getting a place at the best schools for your child is often stressful for parents. My advice is to start as early as possible, and Gabbitas Education can help make the journey easier. We have strong relationships with the best schools in the country and can support you in finding the right ones for your child. This was the first time I had helped a child who wasn’t even born, but I’m sure this will become more usual as there is increasing competition – especially from abroad – to secure limited places in the most prestigious British schools. I was pleased that I could help Mr and Mrs Scherb and look forward to continuing to support their delightful son Maximilian through his education journey.”
University Search for Christopher
Christopher was determined to study at a good British university. However, he had been educated in the American system and had little knowledge of how to apply, the degree area he should focus on and indeed which universities to approach. He therefore contacted Gabbitas Education and, following a thorough consultation involving a discussion of his career aims, study needs and a detailed review of his transcripts, our University Search team was able to identify the most appropriate degree subject for him.
We then researched Christopher’s university options by liaising with admissions tutors to establish his eligibility. We gave him guidance on drafting appropriate supporting statements for his Russell Group university ambition, and contacted his teachers in the US to produce a reference in the necessary style for a Top 10 subject-focussed higher education application. We supported Christopher throughout the entire process, including the long wait for offers to arrive. Finally, Christopher heard the news that he and his family had been longing for; an unconditional offer from his first choice university.
“Working with Gabbitas Education was an absolute pleasure. Organised, knowledgeable and tireless, they made what could have been a stressful process much easier; even enjoyable!”
Matthew had plans to attend Sixth Form at his current school but failed to achieve the grades to continue, so was asked to leave. Distraught and not seeing beyond the news that he had been refused re-entry, his parents contacted us and arranged a one-to-one consultation. Working together, we soon lifted Matthew’s spirits and set about finding a solution.
By reviewing his goals, assessing his results and offering professional guidance we found a suitable place for him at another school. Matthew’s parents used our service because they wanted professional and personal support throughout the process. A decision that Matthew’s father recently confirmed was clearly successful.
“Matthew has turned from a child with no confidence to someone who is determined to succeed and seize all opportunities afforded by his new school. He is now looking forward to university and has never regretted the change.”
Matvei, a seven year old from Russia, spent 3 weeks of his summer in the UK attending a London day camp. His family heard of Gabbitas Education through a friend, for whose child we had successfully helped place in a leading senior school in the UK. After considering all of Matvei’s needs and his parents’ preferences, we used our extensive knowledge of summer courses to find the best option for him.
Matvei attended a day camp at one of the top London schools. Given their son’s young age, Matvei’s parents did not want him to attend a traditional English language course and so we found a camp that had a good mix of international and British national children. As a result, Matvei’s English improved dramatically (largely through socialising with his peers), while the camp also gave him the opportunity to take part in a number of activities including horse riding and football, and a wide variety of arts and crafts.
“Matvei has truly come back a different person, in the best sense. He has grown not only physically, but also intellectually and psychologically too. His English has reached new heights and he now actively enjoys speaking it. If parents want their kids to both relax and develop over summer so that they are feeling fresh and ready for the year ahead, an English summer school is definitely what the doctor orders! Although my husband and I speak English, it is particularly reassuring being able to speak to your colleagues in Russian. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Gabbitas for their care, support and genuine interest in our child’s wellbeing.”
Indian student from Hong Kong
An Indian family living in Hong Kong approached Gabbitas Education to help search for the right school in the UK for their daughter. After finding a wonderful independent day school in Gloucestershire, the next step was to arrange for a Host Family for their daughter to live with and act as her legal guardians in the UK. The Student Support Services & Guardianship team found the perfect family living less than an hour from school and with the kind of environment the student and her family were looking for. The cherry on the cake was that the Host Family mother was British Indian and cooked some superb Indian food for our student!
The mother reflects on her experience with the Student Support Services & Guardianship team, “These two years went by without much tension, because you were there as a family member to take care of things. A huge thank you to you from our family. You were outstanding in everything. You were so good at communication, which was very prompt and detailed. The follow-ups were exceptionally good. You have a very deep understanding of what a parent really wants when they send their child half way across the globe for studies.”
School Immersion Experience for Audrey
Gabbitas Education arranged for Audrey to come to the UK for three weeks to take part in our School Immersion Experience. After understanding her parents’ requirements, we used our experience and knowledge to place her at Swanbourne House School. She attended all lessons and took part in school activities during the week and at the weekends, which even included a visit to Harry Potter World. She was able to experience first hand what it is like to attend a boarding school in the UK.
Audrey’s parents were thrilled at how easily she settled into the school routine and the positive feedback the school provided. Audrey also really enjoyed her experience, and returned to the UK and Swanbourne House School in January 2016 as a full time boarder.
Eri’s Holiday Homestay
Eri was a Japanese sixth form boarder at a UK independent school in Norfolk who wanted to stay in the UK for three weeks over the Christmas holidays. She was hoping to experience a different part of the country to where she was based at school and be placed with a family who had a daughter of a similar age. The Gabbitas Education Guardianship team recommended our Holiday Homestay service which includes accommodation, food and outings. Families that fit Eri’s criteria were contacted and a report on whom we felt was most suitable was sent to Eri and her parents for approval.
Eri arrived in Kent and received a warm welcome from the family and quickly became good friends with the daughter Joanne. During her stay Eri experienced a trip to Brighton for fish and chips at the famous Palm Court restaurant, a visit to an exhibition on Winston Churchill at Chartwell, trips to the cinema, shopping expeditions and a traditional English Christmas Day. The three week stay was enjoyed by Eri and the family and they have kept in touch.