A Child-Centred Approach to School Placement Programmes, with the Co-Founder of EducAd Consulting, Yuliya Kosko: Podcast Transcript

Ludo Millar
Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.

Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.

The question is, what will you learn today?

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Ludo Millar 0:32
Welcome listeners to the next episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. I am delighted to welcome on this week’s guest, Yuliya Kosko. Now, Yuliya is the Co-Founder of EducAd Consulting, which is an organisation that provides a pretty comprehensive educational advice to parents who are seeking the best education for their child, from primary and secondary school placement, university applications, summer schools, and recently Covid impact support. So quite a wide range of services that EducAd offer. Now alongside this, EducAd also comprises a large network of talented private tutors who provide a tailored education program involving the parents at every step of the way. But always with the child at the centre. But today, we’re going to be hearing from Yuliya about how she combines these two strands, the educational services and and private tutor network, how she combines these two strands and what her vision is for school placement support in the future. Okay, that’s the introduction. Yuliya, welcome to the podcast.

Yuliya Kosko 3:00
Thank you very much. Thank you, that was a nice introduction.

Ludo Millar 3:05
It’s always a pleasure researching and learning about the guests that we bring onto the podcast. And that’s just as fun for me as recording the conversation. So yeah, great to read about EducAd. And we’ve brought you on today so that we can learn a little bit more about the student placement programme, both that you run, but also more widely, because that’s something that we haven’t had too much of on the podcast in the past. So you’ve got a lovely tree and path and park background behind you; looks like a lovely day in your virtual background. And I’m sitting here in Berlin and it’s just started feeling like winter properly. There was an enormous gust of wind that almost blew down the tree outside. So I’m kind of huddled up in my bedroom here, you look like you’re out on a lovely sunny day. So we’re going to start with our first question, which is, what is your why as a tutor?

Yuliya Kosko 4:07
Yes. So I’m from Ukraine originally. I’ve been in London for 17 years now. I call it my home. I love it here. I love living here, working here. And I initially came to study in universities, as many foreigners do. That’s one way I suppose. And I finished my degree and then I got myself a job in a state primary teacher role in Kingston upon Thames, where we worked with children who don’t speak English as a first language. So with EAL children, English as an Additional Language speakers, and initially it started off as just helping them settling into their academic system. And then slowly, my role grew into making sure that they were accepted on the social level as well. And then the parents accepted. So we kind of developed their welcome package. And then it grew into bring in multiculturalism to the school where we worked at and so we partnered with my school that they used to go to. And when I was younger in Ukraine, we had this tutor as a teacher. So they came into our school here for practice exchange. And we had some projects between children but that was all pre COVID, right. So we didn’t have video, streaming wasn’t a huge thing, then all of that is really interesting and really kind of made me- actually back in university, my dissertation was on bilingualism, so all of that plus my background as well, you know, coming to a new country, the language that is not my own, made me closer to the pains and and gains, let’s put it that way, of expats.

Yes, but families or children who are born here to form families, they still feel like what’s going on this mix of cultures and languages and stuff. So then after having my second child, I couldn’t keep up on the stand, with the work as required from school, which I really admire how, you know, some people cope with full-time jobs in primary school and have children and find a balance in all of that, because it’s a lot of work. And the working hours are crazy. So I left and when I was still working, obviously, because you know, it’s quite unusual, I suppose for a Ukrainian to be a primary school teacher teaching English children in a way. So I was getting lots of work, was asked for lots of help from lots of people either to explain the system generally, or because there are lots of differences.

One of the biggest ones was like, ‘Okay, so my daughter’s five now. When should they start school or when should they go into Year 5?’ Because there, you are used to going to school at seven. So you know, lots of things that are different and confuse people. And very organically at the time also my oldest son was finishing primary school, stay at school, and he was sitting through 11+ exams into academic selective private schools in London. Southwest particularly is a big thing. It’s a bit overrated, I think, the whole ride. So all of that kind of organically. And you know, I’ve been friends with Ivona, we are very good friends since before we started on business, her children went through a similar thing. And she was always into education and finding things out and things like that, and helping people. So very organically, it grew into a paid service of consultations, then 11+ assessments, I was doing them myself, or we would tie a hole and have a group of children invited for a mock exam.

And then people would ask us, ‘Okay, which school should we go to?’. So we would say, well, we’ll do a school placement or search, let’s say, initially in London, and then again, very organically, it grew into boarding schools, universities. And as we were preparing them for schools, we would do the initial assessment, which I think is very important, because I think there’s no such thing as ‘one school fits all’, you have to look at the child, you have to consider the interests, talents. And, you know, highly selective schools are not necessarily the best school for everyone, and vice-versa. You know, there are some children who are very academically talented and maybe it’s not noticed and parents wouldn’t go for highly selective schools. So it’s always good to start with the chat, with the formal academic assessment. And then we would have an idea of where to place children and suggest and do the whole service call with them to open days, sometimes for the language barrier, sometimes just for the comfort but sometimes for again, cultural differences, explanations and things like that. And then again, organically very naturally, people started asking us, ‘Okay well, we want to prepare for those exams’. So instead of just telling them okay, this is where your child is now, we think they need to do this and this, and we would recommend books. There were some online resources even back then, but we didn’t have tutors as such so, you know, naturally we started looking for tutors or first it was actually recommended that tutors that used to tutor our children to get into secondary school. And to be honest, I don’t promote tutoring as such at all. I don’t think it’s something that on a very long basis, because sometimes people become so enthusiastic about it that they keep those tutors for almost the whole secondary education or, you know, from Year 2 or 3 onwards. I think there has to be a clear target about what you’re trying to achieve.

So then we wanted to work with tutors who share our vision, who share our perspective and to whom we can explain what kind of family it is. Because we’re not a big agency, we don’t really advertise online. All our clients are word of mouth, come to us through word of mouth, or friends or family, or friends, etc. So we wanted to build a team of people who share our vision of high-quality, very niche, very targeted approach to families who might have questions that maybe you’re not necessarily used to or flexible because of moving around, or, you know, all these kinds of concerns of our client that had to be met in a way. And our children were heavily involved into having trial lessons, the whole of our tutors, because that would be the best way for us to see what it is like from the client’s perspective.

Ludo Millar 11:13
I think there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I have tutored in the past some of my colleague’s, Julia Silver’s, children, and I think that, that it was probably a great way for Julia to see my tutoring style. [LAUGHS] But you know, I think that is one of the great benefits to running a tutoring business and having children is that you are then opened up to the world of the best tutors out there, including the tutors who work at your agency to work with your children. I think that’s a brilliant synergy there.

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[Ludo]

And now a word from Diego Melo, CEO of the newly-announced, lead partners of the Love Tutoring Festival 2, Nudge Education.

[Diego]

We are Nudge Education, a movement of like-minded professionals trying to eradicate chronic disengagement from the face of the education sector, one child at a time, and point every chronically disengaged child towards a life that is worth living. So if you want to find out more, please go to nudgeeducationco.uk/workwithus and get involved with the movement.

***

Ludo Millar 12:33
But you were just talking now about how you were able to work with or why you want to work with the best tutors, the tutors who believe in your vision, who share your vision. How do you teach your tutors to manage the parent relationship, but also keep the child at the centre of everything?

Yuliya Kosko 12:55
Yeah, I wouldn’t call it ‘teaching’ them. I think it’s obvious, definitely a partnership. But I know what you mean, it’s teaching maybe about cultural differences, about what this particular family wants. So we did have group video calls with the teachers because we don’t have a huge amount of tutors, we’re not a tutoring company. So it’s not that difficult to organise in a way, then we have to volunteer and sometimes to show like with Covid, for example, somebody was better at managing online lessons or somebody you know, for the tutors who are not used to it at all, who were not used to it at all, that was a very valuable kind of event sharing through an organised meeting with all juniors and discussing some questions that, you know, might have come up during the tutoring experience, well sometimes when there’s one child who’s having lessons with, for example, in maths and physics, I would have a meeting with both teachers where we would discuss what this child needs, especially like their level, right. Not many subjects. So you can really concentrate and you really need to dig deep to have a deep understanding of what’s going on with the grades for a particular subject.

So we would have a meeting between myself or anyone that would be with a maths or physics teacher, we would discuss points of weakness or points of strength. Usually they’re things mechanics or some topics overlap. So they would, you know, discuss between each other who covers what and work in a team. I think communication really is the key to all of it. And yeah, taking everyone’s needs into consideration. Yes, the child is definitely at the centre. And it’s my job to actually explain to the parents that sometimes what they want is not necessarily the best thing for the child. And I now have with the years of work, I have learnt maybe not to say it straight away sometimes [LAUGHS], and just to find a better way of actually leading the parents to that decision themselves, rather than just saying no, that’s not it, it’s not like I used to do it. But still, you know, sometimes it takes a little bit of a journey to come to the destination where we want them to be.

Ludo Millar 15:30
Just like it takes a little bit of a journey for a tutor to find the right agency or network to be part of. I think it’s wonderful that you’re expanding that area of your educational services, I think, over the pandemic, it was very clear that tutoring could be used and can be used in targeted, focused ways and disciplines to support the child, to support them with any area of their learning that they’re struggling with, or that they need catching up with, or really just to boost confidence. I think that’s one of the key parts of the tutor’s work.

Yuliya Kosko 16:09
And really, some of our tutors became so close to the families, especially younger ones, they would go with them on holidays, on a paid holiday, obviously, but to maintain that level of language, because we have students also, we’ve been talking a lot about entry exams and coming into the country. But we have some students who are not coming to the country yet, or they don’t know when they will be coming to the country, but they live in Ukraine or Russia, and they just want to improve their language. And they want a native speaker or they want Maths and English, or we have over the pandemic developed a few courses, like the Book Club, and the Film Club, which is really nice. And usually with most of our children, it’s an individual, one-to-one approach. But over the pandemic, we wanted to make it more social. So we had three, four children in the group. And it was lovely, because then they became friends. And then the tutors, you know, were invited to come and maintain that level of learning about culture, about language from a native speaker. And they were- we had one tutor who went to Cyprus for two weeks. One was invited to Russia. But now obviously, with the pandemic, it’s a bit difficult to organise. But that just shows I think, how close we all are and how I think that is the beauty of a small company who works with families, so close. And for years, you see them grow.

Ludo Millar 17:38
Yeah. Tell us more about those Education Clubs that you were just mentioning there.

Yuliya Kosko 17:45
Yeah, little group clubs. So we basically started off with like, because a lot moved to online. Two years ago, nearly two years ago, yes. And then I had this idea because I used to have a book club at home with friends. And I was thinking, Oh, that would be so nice. Shall we move with online, I tried to do it, to move it online a few times with a group of friends that didn’t work out. And then they just thought, Okay, that would be great, actually, for the kids. So we then came up with- so we found that you’d obviously who has been already working with a class who was interested in it. So we came up with a few titles that we want to cover, had the group talk with them, came up with five session, lesson plans. And the idea is basically that. Now it’s done individually, mainly. But it started off as a group session with three to five children. We had one for seven, eight year olds, and then we had for nine, ten, and then a few thirteen, fourteen year olds, where we would suggest the book, they would all obtain a copy. And then they would read a little bit out loud just to hear the reading. And obviously, it’s all done online on the platform. If there’s an unknown word that would describe it in English, or look up into the dictionary or through Google or through Google Images. If you know it’s something that is harder to identify and describe or find or know time word. And then they will have a discussion and have some little homework and a written task either to describe the character to build up those creative writing skills, basically. And then over a period of four or five weeks, they would have completed the book and then can they can move on to the next one. And the children who received an 11+ place then in the year two years time, it really helped them so much because it helped with the group interviews that they later took. It helped with obviously, just having the knowledge of lots of books and you know, they always had an answer. Which book have you had recently? Or what is your favourite book?. And there are some classics but also there are some fun books as well.

And then there was a similar one about film clubs, so they were watching the Series of Unfortunate Events. And then there was the Science Club, it’s a bit difficult to convince parents to buy the material for the experiments. But we didn’t go too crazy with it. But still, there was a series of five sessions of Science Club. Then we had one for the children for personal statement writing for university applications. What else did we have? Yeah. And oh, and well, actually, that one was very popular: Personal Finances. So maths that is practical. And that helps you decide whether to buy a PlayStation with 0% interest or 66 months, so upfront on the sale, or how to invest money for all the children, there was Economics classes about shares, and, you know, Economics and Introduction to Economics for those who were considering it for A levels. Yeah, I mean, there’s still lots of ideas, which we haven’t implemented yet. So working on it.

Ludo Millar 21:07
Okay, so maybe that can give us a little insight into what I wanted to look into next really, which was what’s next for EducAd? You say that you’d like to explore a few more of these clubs and selling these course bundles? What’s next for you guys?

Yuliya Kosko 21:25
Yeah, to be honest, I can give you a few points in our plans that we have set already. But I’m confident that there will be so many other things coming up in the next couple of years. And that’s what’s so exciting about my job as well, because we work so close with families, and a lot of our services have come up on requests in a way from the families. So one of them, for example, mentoring for these students that we do now. So everybody’s familiar with guardianship for boarding students. Yes, we also have mentoring for boarding students, where it’s almost like a personal tutor who answers to the parents. So it’s a person who works between the parents and the school, but who also makes sure that the child is and quite often, it’s not quite often, actually, in this case, all the time, it’s English and Russian speakers. So it would be a person who would explain differences in culture, differences in system, differences in even how to read the school report. And, you know, from little things to big things, meet them at the airport and still make them feel welcome. Take them to a theatre, for example, during the half-term and things like that, but also it started off as a request from one parent, that they wanted somebody like that for these students. So the family was here, mum actually spoke English fluently, but she just couldn’t find a tutor. Anyone who has children, especially in private schools in London would know how many emails you get per week. I mean, I can barely keep up with mine. And I would really like to actually pay someone and just tell me at the end of the day or the end of the week, ‘Okay, this is urgent. This is before and that will fill it up for you. And then Saturday, please don’t forget the bottle of water or you know’. [LAUGHS]

Ludo Millar 23:22
Well, virtual assistants and executive assistants do exist, Yuliya …

Yuliya Kosko 23:29
I think, with the background as a tutor who can also then pick up any academic issues.

Ludo Millar 23:36
Yeah, well, I mean, I think it’s amazing how much you can delve into your own tutoring network, to find individuals like that, especially if they really truly believe in the mission of education. So if you’re listening, cherished EducAd tutor, Yuliya has a job for you. So reach out.

Now, just to finish it earlier, I’m going to fire a question at you that you probably aren’t expecting. So if it catches you by surprise, then don’t worry. But what’s next for you personally? What’s next for Yuliya Kosko?

Yuliya Kosko 24:16
What’s next for me personally? Hmm. Well, a lot of my life is around my work. So I won’t lie, partially I enjoy it. Not partially, a big part of it is really because of the people I get to meet. So you know, I just came back from Moscow in October. I met some clients that I have been working with for two, three years. I have never met them in person before and then the people, they introduce you to and yeah, a lot of it is around you know, a lot of them become friends. They really become close people and parents and they meet my children. And like a few weeks ago, we had apple pie at my place with one of the tutors and he was in London for Exeat weekends. So again, I don’t know.

Ludo Millar 25:18
I really like this, the idea that you grow your personal network of friends and colleagues through the work that you do. I think that’s such a warming part and such a symbol and reflection of education being this core part of a family’s life and a family’s existence. So here’s to more tutors and tutoring business leaders and families becoming closer, developing that relationship.

Yuliya Kosko 25:53
Even the careers and professions of the future are changing so rapidly and already, that’s probably another good example, I had a request from one family whose son is 15. And they were asking, ‘Okay, does he have to go to university? Or can we just find like courses, six-month courses over two years, or three-month courses over two years all over the world for him?’. And you know, those are all influential, rich families who can afford what most of them can afford, whatever education they can get for their children. And it’s just thinking out of the box, right. 

Ludo Millar 26:42
I think the role of a tutor will change greatly as well. So, thank you so much, Yuliya, for coming on, to talk about about EducAd, talk about yourself and obviously for answering that tricky little question at the end you probably didn’t want to answer.

Yuliya Kosko 27:01
I’ll be thinking about it all day.

Ludo Millar 27:05
Yes, if you want to send in a re-attempted answer to that, then please do. Which reminds me that any of you listeners out there, you have a very easy way that you can be featured at the end of next week’s episode, at the end of every episode really, which is by having a go answering the questions that we’ll be asking next week’s guest. So between now and next week, have a go answering the questions that we’ll be asking next week’s guest, who is the Co-founder of The Different Company. Justin Wise is a former pastor, a very successful businessman. We can’t wait to get him onto the podcast. And these are the questions that we’ll be asking him next week. We will be asking him about being different in your marketing. So:

  • If we’re constantly trying to get noticed and be different, then isn’t everything marketing?
  • What do you do once you have ‘got different’ in your marketing? Once you have differentiated yourself in your marketing, what do you do then? 

So if you’d like to have a go answering those questions, just go as ever to speakpipe.com/QualifiedTutorPodcast, that will be in the show notes below. Have a go at sending your answer to those questions and you’ll be featured in the Community Insights section at the end of next week’s episode.

Don’t forget to review the show if you enjoyed it at ratethispodcast.com/QualifiedTutorPodcast. And finally, a huge thank you to Nudge Education for sponsoring this episode. Nudge are leaders in tutoring in schools working particularly to eradicate chronic disengagement among students up and down the UK. Nudge Education are also Lead Sponsors of the Love Tutoring Festival 2. So check them out at nudgeeducation.co.uk if you’d also like to provide heartfelt outcomes for young people. Thank you very much to Nudge. Thank you very much to Yuliya. Thank you for coming on the show. I hope you enjoyed it.

Yuliya Kosko 29:08
I did. Thank you, Ludo, I did.

Ludo Millar 29:11
Wonderful. As ever the Love Tutoring Festival, which is what we’re building towards in through November, December and January of next year, and we are very much excited to be bringing you that as well. You can find everything at qualifiedtutor.org/love-tutoring-festival. Thank you very much, everyone, and we’ll see you next time.

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Ludo Millar

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. Whether you’re a regular listener of this podcast, or you’ve just stumbled across it, join the Qualified Tutor Podcast Group within the Qualified Tutor Community. To stay up to date with our latest news offers workshops and of course, simply to meet other tutors like you, whatever your level is as a tutor, our training courses will be the next step in your professional development. Visit qualified tutor.org/training to find out more about our CPD-Accredited and Ofqual-recognised courses: the first of their kind in the tutoring industry.

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