Category : Teenagers

International Baccalaureate or A level? 5 key points to consider


For relocating families already following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, an IB school in the UK offers the perfect transition.   Leading IB schools in the UK include Sevenoaks and Oakham.  If you choosing between IB and A level, read our tips below:

The key differences between IB and A Level

These images are copyright of Ursula Kelly Photography. Under the copyright act of 1988 it is a legal requirement for all images used to be credited to the author. Therefore Images online & in print must be credited to Ursula Kelly photography.

The IB offers a greater breadth of subjects.  It is divided into six groups: language, second language, individuals and societies, mathematics and computer science, experimental sciences and the arts.  In addition, pupils complete an extended essay, follow a Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) and participate in the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) programme, which encompasses sport, arts and community work.

Are you a specialist or an all-rounder?

This broad spread of the IB will suit pupils who don’t want to drop from 9 or 10 GCSE subjects down to 3 or 4 A level subjects.  So if you are an all-rounder, not a specialist, this will be best for you.  If, however, you are desperate to drop some of your GCSE subjects, perhaps Maths or French, and to study only three subjects in depth, then you are a specialist.  In this case, A levels are best for you

Weaknesses of both IB and A level

With the IB, all six subject groups must be completed. tutoring-and-mentoring

The fundamental weakness of the IB is that one weaker subject can drag down an entire IB score. So a low result in an area of the curriculum that a student is not very interested in could have a poor impact.  Conversely, we could argue that the weakness of the A level is that it can mean students specialise too soon and regret this later.

Your free time 

The IB is much more time consuming.   Although most IB subjects are not studied in the same depth as A level, there are more of them.  Some students relish this extra time pressure but others would rather spend their time enjoying their hobbies such as drama, music or sport.

So perversely, the IB exam system designed to create a broader education can sometimes narrow down your free time.

 University options-  UK, US and Europe  

Both IB and A level are accepted in all UK and European universities.  education-programmesIt is true the European universities are more familiar with the IB as a qualification, but they also accept the A level.  US universities are also happy with both and have the additional entry test of the ACT or SAT which all applicants need to complete.

So which one is for you? If we go by UCAS statistics, the vast majority of schools and students are opting for the A-level. But there is no doubt also that the IB can be perfect for certain individuals: genuine all-rounders who enjoy the broader IB curriculum.  Our advice: think carefully about what would best suit you as an individual. Please contact us for expert support with applications to both IB and A level schools in London and throughout the UK.  

Dreaming of Oxford or Cambridge University? Tips to maximise your chance of success


Year 12 students are starting to book their university open days and to consider which universities to aim for.  If Oxford or Cambridge are on your list of potential universities, read our five tips below:

Make sure that your UCAS form statement is superb

university student studying

Spend time writing your UCAS statement.  You should focus on making sure that it is well-written, expresses your passion for your chosen subject and shows that you are someone who would function well in a university environment.  Have you been actively involved in charity work, sport or music or any other hobby or unusual experience?  If so, emphasise this on your UCAS form as it shows that you have initiative and are willing to try new things outside of traditional academic study.

Be prepared to demonstrate a deep interest in your subject

Oxford and Cambridge are looking for students who can develop a deep interest in their subject.  They are looking for students who are willing to research in depth and demonstrate real scholarship in their chosen major.  At interview, you must be able to show this and to answer unusual questions about your subject, to think creatively and demonstrate that you have new or interesting ideas to bring to the academic argument.

Offer more than just academic prowess


Do you sing in the school choir, play violin in an orchestra, love debating or play hockey to high level? if so, this will only increase your chances of success.  Oxford and Cambridge colleges look for students who are able to contribute a great deal to college life- not just spend three years studying in the library.  So make the most of your other interests and skills, both on your UCAS form and at your interview.

Prepare for your interview


Your interview is an important part of the application process and as much, it’s worth spending some time preparing for questions which may come up.  Depending on the Oxford or Cambridge College, you are normally interviewed by up to two tutor specialists in your chosen subject so reading around your subject and being aware of any new research, is important.  It may be useful to ask a friend or a teacher from your school to do a mock interview with you.

Consider less popular courses

Geography, Music and Modern Language at Oxford and Archaeology, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Music at Cambridge are amongst the less popular courses, attracting less applicants.  If you have a real interest in and an aptitude for these subjects, you may wish to consider applying for them.  You will have more chance of being offered a place.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities are competitive choices.  Every year many exceptional applicants are discouraged from applying because of the competition.  So, if you are drawn to a course at one of these two universities, give it a go!

We provide expert support with university applications.  Contact us for more information. 

Lumos Education drinks reception in aid of BBC Children in Need

photo everyone

We were delighted to host a violin recital and reception in aid of BBC Children in Need at the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair.

We would like to thank the Dorchester Hotel, the Connaught Hotel, the Marriott Park Lane, the Grosvenor House Hotel, Benares Restaurant, Scotts Restaurant and Spa Illuminata for their generous gifts which enabled us to raise a substantial sum for Children in Need, a charity which does such invaluable work to support children and families in need of assistance.

We would also like to thank the wonderful violinist, Sophie Hinson, for her accomplished recital of Bach and Telemann pieces during the evening.



Clearing: Top tips for securing a university place

university student studying

If you are searching for a university place through Clearing, you are not alone.

2017 is a great year for prospective students. University applications from UK students are down by 5%, meaning universities are eager to snap up good candidates. In 2015, 64,900 who missed their grades found a Clearing place. These are all real positives! So for a stress-free Clearing process, read our key tips below:

1. Get up early

You can check on Ucas Track around 8am to see if you have a place, before you receive your results from school. This is because universities have access to results early. If you don’t have a place at your first choice university, this gives you time to consider your options and to make a list of universities to telephone. Do telephone your first choice university first as they may still consider you.

male student on phone

2. Remember your insurance choice is a contract.

Don’t forget that your insurance choice is a contract. If you decide not to take up your insurance choice, you need to request to be released into clearing. You may need to remind your insurance choice university to do this, otherwise you may be at the bottom of the Clearing list.

3. Do your research

When considering a new course, you will need to look at the class sizes, quality of teaching and the course modules. Don’t ignore the quality of pastoral care at university as this is vital- ask how you will be helped to find suitable accommodation or with the transition from sixth form to university life.

university students graduating

4. Call the universities

Do not be nervous about calling the university.  Although this can feel stressful, universities need to speak with students themselves rather than their parents or carers. If you have just missed your offer, there is still a chance you might be considered for your original choice. If not, you may be offered the option of another degree course at the same university. It is possible for academics to make a verbal offer immediately, which is helpful if you want a quick resolution. Once you have accepted your Clearing offer on Ucas Track, it becomes a contract.  Many universities give students 24 hours to consider before accepting.

5. Be flexible

The more flexible you are about your subject, the more options will be available. It’s worth noting that joint subjects are often undersubscribed. So if you have missed out a place for English single honours, you may opt for a joint honours degree in English and one of your A level subjects: for example English and History or English and Politics.

If you go through Clearing, keep calm, take the right advice and do your research. Consider how your chosen course will impact your future and enable you to achieve your ambitions. And remember that academics are keen to secure promising candidates. Good luck!

Summer Plans for Teens


The summer holidays are almost here and most GCSE and A levels exams are over.  Your teens will be relieved… and, indeed, so will you!  But how do you avoid a summer with your cherished son or daughter glued to a screen?  Here at Lumos we advocate helping your teenager make plans for the summer- plans that will not only provide valuable learning opportunities but also provide a life-enriching summer experience.  To help them navigate the weeks ahead, here a few ideas to suggest to your teenager:


Voluntary work

Encouraging your son or daughter to look for some voluntary work will both increase their sense of responsibility and their communication skills.  It will also make them feel part of their local community in a more meaningful way.  Voluntary work can vary from charity shops on the high street, to working in a care home or even volunteering in area that you teenager might see as a future career- such as a vets’ surgery.

Part-time job

A part-time summer job will work wonders for your teen’s confidence.  Better still, it will enable them to earn their own money and get a sense of how to manage their own finances. 

These images are copyright of Ursula Kelly Photography. Under the copyright act of 1988 it is a legal requirement for all images used to be credited to the author. Therefore Images online & in print must be credited to Ursula Kelly photography.

Summer schools

There are some superb summer schools, both in the UK and abroad which will help your child to make new friends, develop resilience, learn new skills and make new friends from other cultures.  In Western Europe, there are very well-run summer schools which will allow your child to improve their French, German, Spanish or Italian. For your budding Classicist, the Greek and Latin summer camps held at Bryanston School in Dorset, UK, are superb.


A properly researched and well-planned internship can be an ideal way for your teenager to spend the summer.  It is important for them to choose an area which interests them and a company that will provide them with stimulating support and a supportive work environment


Future plans

The summer holidays are a great time to discuss your son or daughter’s hopes for the future.  If they are considering college or university, order course brochures and let them sit down, browse and discover what future opportunities excite them.

The summer holidays should be a break from school and exams and allow your teen to relax.  They also provide the ideal opportunity for them to explore unchartered waters and discover talents and parts of themselves that they never knew existed. 

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