Who are they?
4th Floor South
We have met with JK Educate’s staff. In addition, 56 clients and 37 tutors have completed an on-line survey (sent to 319 clients and 104 tutors) and we have followed this up with additional short phone interviews with some of those surveyed.
JK Educate staff
Founded in 2010 by Katie Krais and Lorrae Jaderberg, both with strong backgrounds in school leadership and SEN spanning the state and private sectors. In 2022, Lorrae announced her retirement and the business joined Dukes Education, a family of nurseries, schools and colleges across the UK (as well as day camps, summer schools and more).
JK is run from Dukes Head Office in St James’s, with the help of seven employees covering client support, training of tutors, monitoring of tutors, assessment specialist etc. ‘An incredibly engaging team who responded to both our child and our needs at every step,’ said one parent we spoke to.
Katie is a published author in the education sector and she has done her own fair share of tutoring too, though those days are long gone, with the focus now firmly on business management and progression while also making sure there’s enough time to remain hands-on with clients.
What do they offer?
Already well-known for 11+, this now makes up around 45 per cent of their work. The rest is split between I/GCSE, A levels and IB in all subjects, general curriculum support throughout and other entrance exams including 7+, 8+, 11+ and 13+. A growing area is 4+, with their youngest tutees just three-years-old – a controversial move, given widespread criticism among some educationalists for tutoring such tinies, but for which JK makes no apology. ‘In fact, there may be other reasons a three-year-old child requires tutoring more generally – perhaps they have had difficulties with language, have been bullied at nursery or are lacking in confidence more generally,’ they told us. ‘I was worried my four-year-old had fallen behind during Covid and our tutor was brilliant about building up her confidence,’ said one parent. At the other end of the spectrum, JK teaches some adults, including for university and entrance exams (UKCAT, BMAT etc), personal statements and preparation for university interviews (including Oxbridge).
More recently, they’ve expanded into the workplace for dyslexia support – testament to the reputation they have gained around SEN, no doubt stemming from both MDs being qualified, experienced state school SENCOs with level 5 OCT Cert to teach SPLD. EAL and LAMDA also available at all levels. Language teaching is notable – includes French, Italian, German, Spanish, Greek, Latin, Portuguese, mandarin, Japanese and Russian. And they are also known for their mock interviews and mock exams – the latter are bespoke to JK Educate, aiming to tease out problem areas that need working on. ‘We make it just like the real exam so the actual experience becomes less intimidating.’
A stand-out point is the emphasis on getting to know the child thoroughly through conversations with parents and, where appropriate, bespoke educational assessments. ‘The aim is to explore questions such as, how is the child doing nationally? Are they reaching their full potential? If not, why not and how can we support them to do so?’ In short, forget it if you’re the ‘Can you tutor my child to get into Henrietta Barnett?’ type, but hang on in there if your thinking is more along the lines of, ‘Can you assess my child to see if Henrietta Barnett might be right for them and, if it is, how you’d support them to get there?’
Most tutoring is hourly either online or at the student’s home. Some tutors think there’s room for improvement with JK’s online platform – ‘I’m not enamoured with it as there are a number of restrictions,’ reckoned one, though JK says it’s ‘so superior to any of the other platforms available’. No residentials or exam prep courses, but home schooling is offered – a bespoke service which comprises assessments and tutoring designed for each student according to their needs.
Geographically, they cover all London postcodes (with central, N, NW and SW London their heartland) and sometimes further afield (it all comes down to whether they have a tutor close by – recently, they’ve managed to place a tutor in Liverpool and another in Spain), while online tutoring takes place worldwide but especially in UK, China, Hong Kong, Europe, USA, Canada, UAE and Israel.
Partnerships are strong (as you might expect, given the holistic approach), with an impressive array of professionals, particularly for SEN - including educational psychologists, occupational therapists and clinical psychiatrists. JK collaborates with schools too, with some eg The Connaught School referring pupils to them for support, while others eg The Hampshire School, Chelsea use JK to provide bespoke interview prep for the 11+ and 13+. JK also provides some SEN specialist teaching in schools. JK also work closely with a number of Dukes national and international schools as well as collaborating closely with other Dukes Plus organisations.
Background and basics
Around 350 tutors serve roughly 400 families. All are Oxbridge/Russell Group graduates and/or have a teaching qualification. They come to JK via referral from other tutors, ads in universities or TES, web searches and the JK website, although only around one in 10 applicants makes it through to the interview by Lorrae – described by tutors as ‘friendly but tough.’ ‘I didn’t feel intimidated and actually rather enjoyed it, but it was quite clear they are looking for the best of the best,’ said one. JK say they are looking for evidence of ‘spark’ and ‘passion,’ with academic brilliance a given. Two professional references are taken up, all tutors have an enhanced DBS check and maths tutors have an additional assessment including mock lesson.
Matching is paramount and despite the size of the company, it maintains the personal touch. ‘As the client’s story unfolds, we think, “Ah they’ll need a Josh or Sophie type,”’ explains Katie – with the final choice of tutors dependent not just on subject but personality and style of teaching.’
Unusually hot on training and monitoring, with far more detail and a greater sense of accountability than we usually see. Katie talks up a so-called ‘scaffolding system’ that she provides for her tutors which kicks off with online training via the JK Academy in areas such as conduct, safeguarding, how the company is run, how to measure student progression etc. All tutors are then assigned a monitoring manager to keep a close eye on performance, including via work samples –, and are offered further online training in areas such as lesson plans, 11+, SEN, online tutoring etc. Clients get plenty of feedback too, including monthly reports. ‘Most agencies are simply there to connect tutor and client, taking a fee for it and that’s it – no follow up. This one is clearly in a different league, with the ex-teachers at the helm having a strong sense of the fact that parents want more than that,’ said a tutor.
Tutors told us they feel ‘hugely respected,’ empowered’ and ‘very involved,’ with ‘a real sense of belonging.’ ‘They are the most lovely company to work with – an absolute pleasure.’ ‘They are the best agency I have come across from training, monitoring, teaching and learning.’ Some would like to see ‘more sharing of resources and ideas between tutors’ and ‘more socials for tutors to meet each other.’
Parents talk of a ‘all-round bespoke service from start to finish,’ ‘always child focused with great support and excellent tutors,’ ‘a keenness to understand what are the drivers are for the tutoring’ and ‘tutoring sessions that my daughter would really look forward to.’ ‘Our tutor was friendly, gentle, fun and really stretched our daughter,’ said one. ‘Our tutor adapted to meet our son’s needs – he didn’t come to the table with a set agenda like other tutors,’ voiced another, although one told us, ‘Both my sons really struggled with reasoning tests and the tutors never seemed to have time to work on them in the sessions. I would have been happy to pay for the extra help if it was necessary, or do whatever it took to improve their scores, but somehow it wasn’t really discussed.’
Since our last review, JK have started doing charity work, sponsoring 15 children from disadvantaged backgrounds at a local state primary school to access free tutoring, twice a week for six months. JK is a corporate member of The Tutors’ Association. JK Educate produces regular client and tutor newsletters, commenting on topical issues.
Money and small print
Registration fee (payable with fees for the trial lesson) of £99 Assessment fee is £650. Standard hourly rates of £99 an hour for tutoring up to GCSE, including 11+; £109 for A levels; and £109 for pre-university support. Higher rates applicable if a particularly experienced tutor charges more. Payable monthly in arrears; travel is included. Tutors are paid £35-50 per hour, depending on their subjects, levels, qualifications and experience. For 11+ mock exams, it is £250 (replica of the originals with full report and teaching targets), and for 11+ interview preparation, it’s £225. There’s a contract for both tutors and clients, which includes the agreement of two lessons’ notice from parents and 24 hours’ notice to cancel a single session.
JK Educate say
‘Our success is based on providing strong support for families and tutors based on a wealth of teaching and management experience gained as senior managers and school leaders. Tutors appreciate the professional support, ethos and processes we have put in place and the consistent success of our tutoring. Clients also appreciate our very thorough approach. Ultimately they know their child is in safe hands. Hence our strapline… Your child, our priority.’
Well-run, efficient, holistic and caring, this company is as slick as they come. Highly professional while also having the personal touch. Their charges don’t just thrive, they fly. ‘I can safely say I’d use JK for my own children,’ said a tutor.