Who are they?
Ivy Education Ltd
126-128 New Kings Road
Tel: 0208 123 0322
Ivy Education Staff
Alastair Delafield, late thirties, educated at St Edward's School, Oxford and Bristol University, where he read Geoscience before doing a PGCE at Bath. Taught science at Dulwich Prep London and Thomas's Clapham, after turning down the offer of Head of Science at Thomas’s Kensington 'because I liked teaching years 7 and 8 and I wouldn't have got to do so much of it'. Decided to do his own thing instead and set up Ivy Education in 2010. Slightly grizzled, highly personable and empathetic, parents rave about him. 'Incredibly thorough, always works hard to match the tutor both to the parents' needs and to the child,' 'Very organised, very professional, always goes the extra mile,' 'Very approachable, very lovely!' 'Our stress levels have plummeted since we've been working with Alastair!' The UK was lucky to keep him, it turns out. An ardent kite-surfer in his spare time, he nearly didn't come back from a teaching job in Melbourne.
A team of specialists have responsibility for the various key stages. These include former Heads of top London schools like Westminster Under, Garden House, Dulwich Prep, Glendower, Eaton House and St Paul’s Pre. Ilana King and Juliet Stoker act as Educational Assessors, both of whom have a wealth of experience in academic needs and support acquired over 20 years at London prep schools. The company is also proud of its association with Elizabeth Hill, former headmistress of Westminster Under and Deputy headmistress of Dulwich Prep.
What do they offer?
Tuition for entrance exams from 7+ upwards, GCSEs, A Levels, and IB, plus support with literacy, numeracy and SEN. They also offer residential tuition to ensure tuition is consistent during the school holidays as well as online tuition for overseas and or university students. A broad spread of academic subjects offered includes the usual sciences, languages and humanities as well as English and Maths and, unusually, the creative arts.
Since November 2013, Ivy Education has been offering pro bono tuition in literacy and numeracy to a cohort of children from various state schools who wouldn't otherwise get the extra help. Feedback from the schools has been extremely positive. Everyone seems to benefit from this admirable initiative. As Alastair observes, 'The children lose that defence mechanism whereby because they don't understand, they'll be disruptive.'
In fact, Ivy sees its role very much as working with schools of every kind. 'What we say to heads is that we're not trying to take anything away from what they're doing. But no matter how brilliant a teacher is, there will always be a child in every class who struggles with something. Holiday boosts by tutors, for example, enable the child to hit the ground running next term. And that helps the teacher.'
Ivy Education background and basics
Each student is initially assessed, and an individual education programme agreed with parents. If parents consent, the school is contacted so that Ivy can liaise with the child's teacher. ('Ninety per cent of parents are happy with this, the rest prefer us not to; we're happy to work either way.') The majority of clients are aiming at entrance to independent schools for their child, and come from the Kensington, Chelsea, Fulham and Westminster areas. A few from further afield, some of whom are looking for support for grammar school entrance. Plenty of specialist help available for SEN - 'We've placed SEN specialists in a number of schools.’
Ivy draws on a pool of about 500 active tutors, and recruitment is ongoing. The company does advertise on university websites and the like, but tutors often come to them by word of mouth, particularly the primary tutors, many of whom are former teaching colleagues and friends of Alastair's. Those tutoring the younger age groups are either qualified teachers or professional tutors; for those teaching GCSE and A Level, a good degree and the right manner may be enough. ('I've refused to take on tutors who aren't sparky enough,' comments Alastair.) Everyone is thoroughly vetted, DBS-checked and interviewed for up to an hour. He seems to get it right. 'My son really respected his tutor,' 'My daughter is very fond of her tutor' 'The sessions were relaxed and sometimes peppered with laughter,' were typical parent comments. Training is offered to tutors delivering tuition for 7+ & 8+ entrance examinations.
Lots of success stories, as parents testify. 'My daughter got straight As across the board at Common Entrance, and she's on her way to Latymer Upper.' 'Ivy Education helped prepare my son for the Harrow scholarship, and he went on to do really well in the exams.' 'A huge help with the 8+ and thereafter.'
Money and small print
Introductory joining fee is £80. Academic assessment (optional) from £460. Interview preparation (optional) from £270. Tuition fees are £65-95/hour depending on the tutor. The tutor gets £37-£55. All fees inclusive of VAT.
An established kid on the block these days and one that really impressed us with its quality and integrity. 'The staff are professional, courteous and helpful, and the tutor they sent was good fun, patient and thorough. My son learnt a lot,' said a typically satisfied parent, 'and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Ivy Education.'