Comment, information and insight

  • This year, the first time in history of process of admitting underrepresenting students across the UK, Cambridge has adopted the use of Adjustment places among other institutions. 
  • 71 UK students with underprivileged background who had exceeded the terms of the conditional offers were allowed to refer themselves to be considered by another institution, of which 7 of them were going to study medicine. 
  • 67 of them were admitted by Cambridge to read English, Economics, and Law , in addition to Biochemistry and Computer Engineering. 
  • Register for Adjustment through UCAS if your A-Level results have met and exceeded the conditions of your firm offer
  • A verbal agreement would be accepted over the phone, followed by an instant update on the UCAS page and a letter of confirmation of a place. 
  • Adjustment scheme was designed to boost diversity, supported by financial assistance through the Cambridge Bursary Scheme and those from the colleges. The introduction of a bridging program would be introduced next year at Corpus Christi College, and Transition Year programme were set to launch in 2022. 

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The UCAS system of Adjustment provided students with another chance to be admitted to their first preference of university course, given if their A-Level results had met and exceeded the original terms of the conditional offer upheld. The students could self-refer to another institution that had available course places. 

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Kaan Evcimen, a student at City & Islington College, would be going to Trinity Hall to begin his studies of Natural Sciences, expressed joyfully: “Getting into Cambridge was simply a dream, which is now somehow reality---  I'm super grateful for the opportunity and I'm excited to get started with studying the subject I love at the best university in the world.” 

Nikodem Czarlinski, upon receiving 4 A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Physics, and Chemistry, would be going to study Engineering at Trinity College after The Priory Academy LSST in Lincoln. He said: “My parents have always supported me and they taught me the value of hard work. Adjustment felt like a second chance and I kept the possibility in the back of my mind right through my exams. My family and my teachers were all very happy when I told them I’d got a place to study at Cambridge.” 

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After achieving 4 A*, as the first pupil from Whitley Academy in Coventry to study at Cambridge, Katie Yuan would be at Murray Edwards College. “I didn't tell my parents that I
might be able to get a place through Adjustment, and I only told one of my teachers, so everyone was so surprised. Adjustment is a fantastic idea: it opens up the door for lots of people from lots of backgrounds. Cambridge is the best place in the world to study and I'm so happy I'm not going to miss out on that opportunity.”


The Four-A* students all agreed that they were enthusiastic reader of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. One of them added: “I thought if this man got inspired this way by being at Cambridge, I want to be inspired there too.” 

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Dr Sam Lucy, Director of Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges, said: “When we announced the Adjustment scheme, we received many emails from students saying the second chance of a place at Cambridge was inspiring them to work even harder to achieve the best A-level results they could. It is wonderful to see that so many who may not have managed to show their full academic potential during the main Admissions round have gone on to excel at A-level due to their hard work and determination.”

She added: “We are delighted to have been able to offer so many of them a place at Cambridge in the pilot year of Adjustment and hope that more disadvantaged students will make an application to Cambridge in future years with the knowledge that this route will also be available to them.”

As a student in a boarding school, not only you are entitled to a lot of world class facilities, you will also get the opportunity to choose from a wide range of educational activities that include various clubs, trips and new adventures! 

What are some of the popular Extracurricular Activities in boarding schools?

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  • Sports as high-profile activities in boarding life
    Apart from some of the sports as part of the Physical Education curriculum, boarders are encouraged to do different sports; some even represent their schools to participate in major competitions. While cricket, squash, rugby, lacrosse, and horse- riding are very popular as traditional British “classy” sports, fencing, archery, hockey and gymnastics are also on the students’ list frequently. Clay pigeon shooting might be an exciting sport in some parts of the UK, water sports such as canoeing and whitewater rafting remain popular among schools near the seaside. Taichi and pilates also help release examination stress. 

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  • Music, Drama, and Dance
    Most of the boarding school have their own theatre with lighting and equipment that are as good as the professional ones’. Each year there are several occasions that most UK boardings will stage their music, drama, and dance productions, sometimes as a whole-school production or for an annual carnival or dramatic arts festival. Ranging from piano, piccolo, to saxophone, students could also choose to learn how to compose and conduct as well as to be placed in a rock band or chamber music group. 

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  • Public-speaking and related events
    Apart from acting and Model United Nations, debating and mooting teams are quite popular, and the students would have the chance to explore a specific subject area while developing their critical thinking and public-speaking skills. Those who love to exercise their mind could also work behind the scenes, for instance, planning arguments,  researching , and learning from writers, judges, and journalists that are usually invited by most boarding schools to allow the student experience first-hand primary experience. 

What could we make out of  Extracurricular Activities? 

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  • Meeting and responding to successes and disappointments
    The idea of a balance between academic concentration and recreational enjoyment has been proven to be contributing largely to a whole-person child development. Learning experiences from running a debate club to representing local rugby team,the students will get to understand the challenges and opportunities in life better. While one should be proud of his or her achievement in life, disappointments or losing are inevitable that only by those do we become stronger and grow to be more adaptable and sociable.

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  • Awards and Leadership Experience
    National schemes such as Combined Cadet Force (CCF), Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, and Young Enterprise Company Programme provide students with opportunities to exercise their attributes and skills where they could set their own goals and objectives by strategic planning and teamwork. Those who have completed different levels of challenges could be rewarded with certificates and prizes. All those experiences would be relevant and useful when applying to universities as well as scholarships and grants.

At James-Lee Consultancy most of our staff have had experience in boarding life and activities. If you would like to discuss fun and educational extracurricular activities for your child, please contact our Education Consultant, Karen Li Foster at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  1. Un-expect the Host families Like your Real Parents and the "Perfect" Family 
    Although meals are mandatorily provided for every host student and laundry could be done for you, do not expect to leave all the mess to them as if you were home, or stay in your own room whole day playing with your phones. Some of the families look to host international students because they love to connect with people to learn more about the rest of the world. They would treat you as a guest in the house, and would love to show your around locally. Also, please ask before taking anything from the fridge or do clean up after using the bathroom--- they open up the door to share their house with you, don’t forget.

    Also, the key is to embrace diversity. Our society used to confine and confirm our understanding of the concept and model of a tranditional nuclear family (2 parents + children). Nowadays, family structure evolves too--- and so it is not uncommon to have a so-called lone-parent family (one parent rising the children), symmetical family (both partners engage in paid employment as well as share household-related responsibilities), reconstituted family (two sets of children become one family through divirced parents' remarriage), beanpole family (genreations in close contact), as well as gay/ lesbian family (same-sex parnership). Family structure moves forward, and so as the host families. 
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  2. Un-expect The Queen and British Guard-alike as your Host 
    There is a reason why The United Kingdom is called The United Kingdom. While 3.6 million of British nationals living in the UK, the highest non-British population is from Poland which makes up 1 million, followed by India (362,000), Republic of Ireland (335,000), Romania (328,000), and Italy (233,000). With a hundred years of imperial and colonial history with the establishment of Commonwealth countries, do not expect that every host family sounds like the Queen and dresses like the guards at Buckingham Palace. Do embrace the cultural diversity and take the time to learn about cultural heritage and ways of life as we have become more and more globalized in our everyday life. You probably would feel more close to home as an international student. 
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  3. Un-expect The IELTS Verbal Test-alike Conversation
    The best way to learn languages to be fully immersed in everyday life--- and  the most effective way is to develop understanding and fluency with good listening skills. Unlike in the classroom, home and cultural context would allow you to communicate authentically about life and there is a strong motivation to improve. Do not be afraid of making mistakes, or do not be embarrassed by your non-English accents. Your host families would love to communicate with you even if you are not “grammar-perfect”-- and they speak casually with slang (informal language) too.
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  4. Un-expect the same old merry English Life
    Regionally in the UK different local areas have their own neighborhood features--where is good to go and shop, which restaurant has the best dish, nearby attractions, school and college information, and so on. Many international students enjoy living with host families because they would experience things unlike their homes: barbeque in the garden, weekend trips or hikes, going to parks and sightseeing.
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  5. Un-expect the engagement in Activities that are not allowed normally
    All host families have been vetted and gone through DBS-police check to ensure your safety. They should be trustworthy, as well as bear the duty of care towards your safety. Do not engage in drinking or smoking in the house, for instance, and hoping that it would be fine. Do not hold a party and invite friends over without asking them first--- this is after all their house, their rules! Do respect their house. 
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    Want to know more about homestay options and finding a suitable family? We have safe and loving host families that are completely police-checked with great extent of experience in hosting international students. Please contact our Education Consultants, William McFarlane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Karen Li Foster at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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One of the core factors for parents to consider an independent school education is affordability. Not only on the termly fees but also expenses-related budgets as massive as boarding requirements, or as small as a few music lessons or school trips. 


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  • Long-term equity draw-down plan, or instalments for school fees
    While early investment of capital could reduce the use of taxed income to pay for school fees in later years, there are a number of schemes that help private school parents to spread the school fees. After minus the amount that  the parents could comfortably afford, spreading the school fees for the balance of 30%-40% are possible. It could be spread over 10-, 15-, or 20-year period. Some life assurance policy derived from income or capital sums are helpful early investment.

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  • Scholarships based on Academic or All-round merits
    Many senior schools or preparatory schools offer scholarship opportunities to attract the bright and talented to enhance the learning environment. Scholarships could be offered in various value based on academic achievement, whole-person merit, or special ability in music, drama, sport, and  technology. The awarding of scholarships are at the age of 11, 13, and 16 after competitive interviews and examinations. If the awards are on the basis of public examinations like GCSEs, the students will need to make satisfactory progress by being industrious (i.e. practising with past papers; signing up interview techniques classes) to meet the offer.

  • Bursaries
    Unlike scholarships, all prospective students will be able to apply. The amount could cover up all the fees after a mean-testing procedure regardless of academic performance, despite some still reply on academic abilities. The disclosure of financial circumstances and capital assets are necessary for the governors, headteachers, or bursars to assess the application to determine the level of assistance All bursaries are reassessed annually. While bursaries might be rare to allocate at a UK school, private companies sometimes are willing to offer bursaries for those are contracted to work for them for a number of years of graduation.

If you would want to inquire more about international scholarships and bursaries, please contact our Education Consultant, Karen Li Foster at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Julius Zhang, one of the students under our guardianship, is being interviewed by Independent School Parent to share the experience of obtaining London Bursary at St Paul’s School. 

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Mark Taylor. “Bursaries and Scholarships Special.” In: Independent School Parent (Spring 2019), p. 50.

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A recent research conducted by Leeds Beckett University found out from 594 teenage mobile phone users between the ages 11 and 18, who most likely check their devices during family meals, doing homework, as well as school lessons.

While 9 in 10 of the students check their phones at night, while only 30% of them do not check their phones during a class. What is more concerning is that, 96% of the interviewed students check their phone every two minutes. While over 85% spend between 4 and 6 hours online, two-thirds of the students only get 2 to 4 hours of sleep because of this “addiction”.

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A leading independent school in the UK has decided to help the students of Year 7, 8, and 9 to hand in their phones until the end of the day, and they could only collect their phones between 4PM and 5PM before they go home.

Richard Cairns, the headmaster of this 38000-a-year college in Brighton, aimed at helping students wean off their “addiction” and take time to “detox” before they become one of the adults who could not but acted irresponsibly. He added:

“We want to provide time and space for youngsters to learn the simple art of conversation, to look up and notice the wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful world around them, and to discover the pleasures of simple board games and physical activity.”

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This so-called “technoference” has been worrying for senior learners and teachers especially there was no significant differences by gender, but would become severe with age, and young adolescents would make use of the online presence as much as possible to maintain friendship.

Professor Jonathan Glazzard, of the university’s Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, said that keeping peers nowadays involved networking online, and this led to broken sleep, tiredness during the day, lack of concentration, and distraction to learning and behavioural control. Those issues could lead to falling behind in their academic performance as well as lowering their self-esteem and self-worth.

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The lack of exposure to language, Researcher Samuel Stones, a senior teacher at Norton College in North Yorkshire stressed, would affect negatively on phonological and phonemic development, and eventually it led to critical low in reading enhancement.


If you want to know more about how to enhance and concentrate on your academic and UK boarding life, or learn about mindfulness and study tips, we have experienced academic tutors and mentors. Please talk to our Education Consultant, K Li Foster, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..