Best of Mentors: What Makes a Good One?

By School House

5 years ago

A good mentor’s for life, not just for exams. Jenny Rowe meets those leading the charge

Charles Bonas, Bonas MacFarlane 

Charles Bonas

Charles Bonas is the founder of Bonas MacFarlane, a trusted and disciplined educational company that can coach your child from cradle to career. With 25 years’ experience in tutoring and mentoring behind him, Bonas views the options open to your child along a spectrum, so if tutors are ski instructors teaching perfect technique, mentors are the mountain guides enabling pupils to explore unimagined places and perspectives, cultivating a unique craft. Bonas MacFarlane will equip your child with experts, tutors and mentors, delivering transparent goals and results through a discrete, organic relationship.

Walter Kerr and Henry Faber, Oppidan Education

Henry Faber (left) and Walter Kerr (right)

Walter Kerr and Henry Faber of Oppidan Education unapologetically concentrate their educational focus on soft skills, such as empathy, resilience and independence, arguing that exam results will naturally follow. Recognising that tutoring has had some negative connotations – parents were uncomfortable with it, children begrudged it and schools dismissed it – they turned their attention to mentoring, cherry-picking a new breed of ‘anti-tutors’ as well as launching a series of Oppidan Camps – residential, modern-day Swallows and Amazons experiences with a strict no-tech rule. The Oppidan Approach is a holistic concept that not only brings success into the exam room but also working adult lives.

Nathaniel McCullagh, Simply Learning Tuition

Nathaniel McCullagh

Simply Learning Tuition (SLT), an education consultancy and private tuition agency in Mayfair, believe that tutoring only works when the relationship is built upon trust and mutual respect. They work with passionate tutors who love what they do and naturally become great mentors too. Founder Nathaniel McCullagh explains that a dedicated mentor at SLT is able to ‘overcome issues that are blocking the child, such as, anxiety, illness, or behavioural problems. They support students emotionally as well as academically, and can provide alternative ways of thinking about challenges, as well as leading by example and offering endless support and encouragement.’

Kate Shand, Enjoy Education

Kate Shand

Kate Shand founded Enjoy Education, an award-winning private tuition and homeschooling company in Knightsbridge, to help children become happy, confident learners. She listens to the child as well as the parents to work out what’s best for them. Cognisant of the timely, positive impact of tutors in her own life, and how they fostered intellectual curiosity and confidence, Shand is determined to provide a make-or-break, stitch-in-time service through highly trained tutors who are experienced in recognising learning difficulties and are carefully matched to each child for a mutually rewarding and successful relationship.

Woody Webster and Malachy Guinness, Bright Young Things

Malachy Guinness (left) and Woody Webster (right)

Co-founders Woody Webster and Malachy Guinness are extending their home tuition service to the high street, opening centres for group learning across the UK. Bright Young Things (BYT) runs a slick service and
is known for its ability to respond to any educational brief immediately. With the emotional and academic side of things taken care of, the ambitious duo can also tick off the more practical issues on your list; BYT have an AQA, Edexcel and Cambridge iGCSE examination centre, and can offer a full examination programme incorporating revision, mock exams and a venue to host the exam itself.

Rupert Syme, Lionheart Education

Rupert Syme

Chairman of Lionheart Education, Rupert Syme understands how the pressures of over-educating a child can cause unhappiness and believes in a distinctly child-focused approach supported by a team of trusted psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists. Syme assesses each child and then puts in place a suitable programme ranging from hourly tutoring or mentoring to inviting a pupil to be part of their tiny school of thirteen, where every child has their own office and is under the one-to-one care of vocational tutors, former lawyers, actors or musicians – all dedicated to finding the right path for each child.

Catherine Kelsey, Gabbitas

Catherine Kelsey

Catherine Kelsey is Director of Elite Clients at Gabbitas, global leaders in education advice, which was founded in 1843 and offers a comprehensive school and family service ranging from school placements, tutoring and specific 11+ preparation courses to guardianship and homestays for international students. Placing a child in the right school is at the forefront of their ethos, requiring objectivity, knowledge and tenacity, all of which Kelsey has in abundance. Even more importantly she has an unsurpassed success record. ‘I hold myself to the same standard as any great lawyer,’ says Kelsey. ‘I am only as good as my last case.’ 

Valentina Nikolic, Lindamood-Bell

Valentina Nikolic

Lindamood-Bell was founded by Nanci Bell, a reading specialist, and Patricia Lindamood, a speech pathologist, both intent on solving the complex question of why some children are better learners. Now, three-decades-worth of their own data has formulated Lindamood-Bell’s transatlantic, evidence-based programmes that focus on improving the sensory-cognitive processing necessary for reading and comprehension. Valentina Nikolic, Centre Director at Notting Hill, emphasises that ‘the programmes make measurable changes to a child’s brain, transforming them into independent learners equipped with all the necessary transferable skills, whether they have a dyslexic profile, learning difficulties or want to accelerate their learning across the board’.

This article was originally published in School House Magazine Spring/Summer in March 2019.

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