Author Archives: Johanna Mitchell

Qualities of a successful tutor

Building a strong rapport with the student

Building an atmosphere of trust and respect is key to the tutor/tutee relationship. A student who trusts and respects his tutor and his tutor’s abilities is happy and relaxed.  And feeling happy and relaxed are key ingredients to successful learning.


Successful tutors are able to put themselves in their students’ shoes.  Not all students find learning easy.  Shakespearean language, Latin verbs or quadratic equations are a doddle if you have specialised in this area and studied your subject to undergraduate level and beyond.  It is easy to forget that a child may find these concepts much harder to grasp.  So a tutor needs to find out the best way in which to communicate their knowledge to each individual child.

Understanding students’ individual learning styles

Everybody learns differently.  Put simply, most people are a mixture of auditory, visual or kinaesthetic (learning through action) learners.  The child who finds it difficult to sit still in a classroom environment may be predominantly a kinaesthetic learner, who would benefit from learning through physical action as opposed to sitting passively and listening to the teacher.  This a very simple method and a good tutor will use this as just one of the methods to inform their tuition.

Engaging students’ interests

A good tutor finds out what makes his or her student’s heart sing.  If this happens to be computer gaming, he or she is likely to be more fired up in an English tutorial if their tutor uses well-written articles and visuals on computer gaming to illustrate comprehension and grammar skills.   A dreary article from the Times on current politics may well send your computer gaming fan into the depths of despair.  The more the student’s interests are engaged, the more they care about what they are learning.

In-depth subject knowledge and the ability to relate this to real life 

Successful tutors engage students more fully if they can make their subject come alive.  The successful tutor does not always rely on abstract assignments or set vocabulary for the student to learn by rote.  By turning assignments into project-based activities and providing opportunities to relate these to real-life situations, the tutor is able to demonstrate the value of the subject outside the classroom.


The successful tutor is prepared for each tutorial, but he also has to be prepared to change the content at the drop of a hat.  You may come to the tutorial armed with all sorts of fun exercises and songs on French irregular verbs, only to find your tutee in floods of tears over her impending oral exam the following morning.  So you have to be prepared to switch and be in tune with your student’s needs.

Communication with parents and teachers

The successful tutor communicates clearly and frequently with all key adults involved in the student’s learning.  Drawing up a study plan, with clear timescales and academic goals is vital.  It is equally important that this plan is reviewed at regular intervals and changes are made where necessary.  

Having used tutors for all my children, at various stages in their lives, I have found that those who took the time to find out what really motivated them and made them tick, were the most successful in helping them achieve their goals.

Lumos Education speaks at the United Nations in Geneva

Lumos Education was delighted to be invited to speak at the International Investment Center’s Sixth Conference held over two days in Geneva: both at the science research centre in CERN and at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.  The theme of this year’s conference was “International Co-operation:  Innovation as a tool for social and economic change.”  As Lumos Education work with clients all over the globe, this theme fitted well with our philosophy of helping to promote academic mobility and education across borders.  Johanna Mitchell, Director of Lumos Education, gave a presentation to conference participants entitled “Education and the Arts:  a key to International Collaboration.”

The Conference was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.  We were honoured to play a small part in the UN’s promotion of international co-operation.

All girls or co-education- which is best for your daughter?

Historically in England and Wales, most schools were single-sex, but now the majority are co-educational with just over 800 single sex schools in the country. If you are considering an all girls’ school for your daughter, here are some key points to consider:

1.Will my daughter do better academically at a single sex school?

Overall, research shows that girls fare better academically at single sex schools.   A 2010 study found that girls fared better in examinations at age 16 in single-sex schools, whilst boys achieved similar results at single-sex or co-education schools (1).  Advocates of single-sex education for girls point to the fact that girls can concentrate more without distractions from boys . It has also been argued that girls do not want to appear competitive in front of boys, so effectively dumb down their performance.   The biggest provider of girls’ education in England and Wales, the Girls Days School Trust (GDST) say in their ethos that:  “experience shows us that they (girls) shine academically and socially in a girls-only environment.” The 24 GDST schools which include South Hampstead School for Girls and Nottingham Girls’ High School, maintain a top performance in league tables.  Their list of alumae is outstanding and includes the author, Dame AS Byatt, designer Emma Bridgwater, classicist Mary Beard and Dame Stella Rimington the first female Director of MI5.

Nevertheless, there are many schools where both boys and girls do very well in co-ed environment such as Sevenoaks Schools in Kent, where students study the IB, and Brighton College.

 2. Career prospects: will my daughter earn more?

Very possibly.  A 2011 study has found that, later in life, girls who had been to single-sex schools went on to earn higher wages than women who had been to co-educational schools.(2).  This is just one study and of course, career prospects depend on many other things such as motherhood, personal choice and home environment.   But it is interesting that earnings prospects look bright for those girls educated in an all girls’ environment.

3. My own experience of all girls was negative- I want co-ed for my daughter.

This is understandable and you will not want your daughter to have the same experience as you.  All girls’ schools have changed a great deal over the last 30 years.  They are very much focused on what girls need and employ excellent teachers

At Queen’s College School,  London, both the academic and creative are taken seriously, with several girls going on to do a year’s art foundation at leading London art colleges before then going on to university.  At the recent open evening, Principal of Queen’s, Dr Frances Ramsey explained how every girl had been accommodated in her choice of GCSE subjects.  This would not be possible at a larger London school.

Many co-ed schools provide equally positive opportunities such as Brighton College and Sevenoaks School, where results are excellent and both boys and girls thrive, and Westminster sixth form where both girls and boys achieve some of the best results in the country.

4.  Will my daughter find it hard to relate to boys?

Not necessarily.  Your daughter will have plenty of opportunities to meet with boys outside schools, whether it be through orchestra, football club, or socialising with her brothers, cousins and their friends.  Most day schools organise events with neighbouring boys schools.  If your daughter is planning to board, you can enquire as to whether her prospective schools organise social events with a nearby boys’ school.  For example, Wycombe Abbey has their Annual Ball with Eton College and they also organise informal house visits to Pizza Hut with one of the houses from a boys’ school such as Harrow or Radley.

5. Will she be happier at an all girls’ school?

This depends on your daughter:  her personality, her interests and her individual needs.  An all girls’ environment may not necessarily suit every girl.  It also depends on quality of pastoral care offered by the school.

Sophie went from a mixed prep in London to an all girls’ boarding school in Surrey.  She was unhappy because in her words “I really missed the company of boys.”  After two terms, her parents’ moved her to a mixed schools where she thrived both academically and emotionally.

However, your daughter may prefer the specific attributes which an all girls’ environment can offer.

One thing that girls’ schools really excel in is understanding girls – what makes them tick, how they study best, what motivates them and more importantly, the huge challenges which they face in the modern world.  At the recent open morning at Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, Headmistress Mrs Lucy Elphinstone spoke of her awareness of the issues surrounding girls in the 21st century:  she makes sure that all girls learn computer programming and emphasises the need for all girls to be adaptable and able to reinvent themselves.  In a rapidly changing world, this is a vital skill:  our daughters need to be prepared for the fact that they will have a variety of different careers in their lifetime.

Many all girls’ schools endow their pupils with the skills and confidence to thrive in today’s society.

(1)Sullivan, A., Joshi, H. and Leonard D. (2010) ‘Single-sex schooling and Academic Attainment at School and through the Lifecourse.’ American Educational Research Journal 47(1) 6-36

(2)Sullivan, A, Joshi H, and Leonard D. (2010) ‘Single-Sex schooling and labour market outcomes’. Oxford Review of Education 37(3) 311-322

The photo is of Queen’s College, London.

Choosing the right school for your child: 8 top tips

For many parents, choosing a school for their child is one of the most important decisions they will ever make.  Here are 8 top tips to help:

1) Visit the school

Ideally, visit the school yourself. There is no substitute for breathing the air, stalking the classrooms and using your intuition. If this is not possible, and you are based abroad, or relocating, use an experienced independent education consultant with connections to your preferred schools, who will advocate for you. This person should be an education expert and ideally a parent themselves who has children in the same school system.

2) Speak to the teachers.

And don’t be afraid to ask probing questions: are they happy, do they like the head, do they feel supported in their work? Notice how the teachers interact with the children- are they warm and caring?

3) Speak to the children.

Many schools use current pupils to show you around. As above, ask relevant questions, especially about pastoral care.

4) Ask your child

The school is for them, after all. You may hanker after St Paul’s, but your child may be better suited to Bedales.

5) League Tables

League tables have their place, but do not rely on them. Many of the best schools refuse to partipicate in them anyway.

6) Word of mouth

Do not under-estimate the power of the parental grapevine. Schools can change remarkably quickly. News of a staff resignation, bullying or inadequate teaching travels likes wildfire through parental networks and well before any inspectorate or Ofsted gets a whiff. If you don’t know any parents at the school, use an independent education consultant whom you trust.

7) Don’t worry

Yes, choosing a school for your child can be challenging. But very few schools are truly terrible. And remember that….

8) Your decision is not set in stone

This simple fact takes the pressure off.
If your child is unhappy at your chosen school, you have the power to change this. There are some scenarios that you cannot plan for such as the other children in your child’s form group: they may be wonderful, but they may be little horrors. Make it clear to your child that any issues that arise can be resolved – and that in life, it is to ok to change a decision.

Visit to Russia 2015

We have just returned from our latest visit to Moscow and as always, received a warm welcome from our partners, clients and friends in Russia.  More than ever, conversations were focused on the internationalisation of education.  In an increasingly global world, we want our children to be multilingual and to have the opportunity to work anywhere.  We look forward to working with you all throughout 2015.

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