Comment, information and insight

Learning to read is crucial in our development and not only develops language skills but exercises our brains, enhances concentration and encourages a thirst for knowledge. For many of us, books are an integral part of our childhood but not all children are so fortunate, in fact 1 in 8 disadvantaged children in the UK don’t own a single book!

World Book Giving Day is a fun opportunity to get books into the hands of children and encourage reading amongst all.

We grow up with exposure to an array of careers; interacting with teachers and educators on a daily basis, watching tv and theatre actors in our favourite movies, TV shows and productions and listening to an eclectic playlist of talented musicians. We watch an array of sportsmen compete in national and international events and channel our own passion when we are coached through sporting activities. We visit a variety of healthcare professionals, including doctors and dentists to maintain good health. Transport drivers and conductors get us from A to B, whilst Police, Fire and Rescue strive to keep us safe.

These interactions play an important role in our childhood, allowing us to begin exploring ourselves and future careers at a very early age; role playing and developing our personalities, figuring out our likes and dislikes and portraying the various professionals we come across in our daily lives. As we grow older, we become more aware of what we like and who we want to be. Our choices may change as often as the weather or they can become deep rooted as our passion develops.


" What do you want to be when you’re older? "


Whilst some children have it all figured out, there are so many who dread being asked “what do you want to be when you are older?”.  For those who have it all figured out, make sure you understand the profession, the skills and personal traits that you need to succeed, the potential sectors you can enter and not only the potential salary and working hours. For those who don’t have it figured out don’t fret; the importance is not on when but how you figure out what you want to be.  


The 2017/18 admissions cycle saw a record number of applicants applying to medical schools, a 12% rise on the previous year, taking numbers of applicant to medicine courses to a 5-year high of 22,340.

These record numbers were a result of extra places made available in an effort to plug the shortage of doctors in the NHS in time for Brexit; in 2016 the former health minister, Jeremy Hunt announced plans to train 1500 extra doctors by 2020 at English university, which actually translated to an additional 500 places.

Despite the additional number of places for wannabe doctors, the competition is still fierce; the average number of applications to courses at Cambridge University is 5 to every 1 available place.  

To combat the large volume of applications, universities and colleges select the highest academic ability and potential, and employ a cross college moderation; Directors of Studies in each subject meet during the admissions period to discuss the overall standard of applications so they can see how their own College’s applicants compare, and through their pool system they ensure, as far as possible, that applicants in a given year are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the level of applications to their chosen/allocated College. 

To put into perspective the competition for med school, over the last three years Oxford University have interviewed just 28% of their applicants to medicine, resulting in a success of just 10% of the applications received. Similarly, of the 1,341 applications to Cambridge’s medical school, only 6.5% resulted in offers.

With such few applicants being accepted, what options remain?

Please be aware of fraudulent diversion of school fee payments by cyber-criminals.

The tactics reported generally relate to a diversion of fee payments into a new bank account. Changes to banking details by schools and education service providers will always come with significant advance warning

It is reported that Fraudsters are able to compromise school IT systems, which are often unsecure, usually through a phishing attack, and criminals then gain access to the school's emails and contact list to email parents, explaining that the school's payment details have changed, and issue a new invoice with their own account information.

Parents who respond to request a confirmation will have their emails diverted to the fraudsters so the school will not receive them.

The money transferred is usually emptied from the fraudster's account within hours and those who pay by bank transfer have a very little chance of getting their money back as the payments are not protected. Furthermore, banks are not obliged to refund the stolen cash, as they are with unauthorised or fraudulent payments on credit and debit cards. 

Despite parents being tricked into transferring funds banks will say the payments were "authorised" and they simply followed the payee's instructions.

Any changes to bank account information for the payment of fees will usually provide those affected with a significant advance notice.  Those parents who fall under James-Lee’s services will also be provided with a suitable method for fee payers to corroborate any such change. If you receive any calls or email regarding the change of payment methods or information, please call the appropriate school before proceeding and follow the advice by the UK Charity Commission:

- verify any email payment request to the school. 
- be vigilant. Check any inconsistencies and errors like spellings and school information.
- call the school and verify details if being asked to make fee payments into a new bank account.

Students from countries outside of the U.K. and European Union must have a valid visa to study in the U.K. for all programmes over 6-months in duration.

In order to apply for and receive a visa schools issue international students with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies letter (also known as a CAS letter) up to three-months before their programme start date and once they have satisfied their admissions requirements, including gaining required grades, appointing a suitable guardian, paying the necessary fees and completing all documentation.

The visa application process is completed online and in your home country. This includes all fees being paid and all conditions being met before departing the home country to go to the U.K. Once you have your visa and you are on your way to the UK, you shouldn’t hear from the UKVI again.

Recently, however, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department and the Home Office have become aware of international students being targeted by fraudsters when they arrive in the UK.

This includes students being told there is a serious problem with their visa, demanding them to pay fees or fines and even asking them to purchase gift cards and vouchers.

Give fraudsters the boot, not your personal details!

If you are called by someone claiming to be from the Home Office, demanding anything, even if the call seems genuine, DO NOT:

  • engage with them
  • give any personal details
  • give any financial information or card numbers

If you do receive a call or have already been contacted please DO:

  • report it to your school immediately via your guardian or housemaster/housemistress so that they can report it to the relevant authorities.

Be advised, it is without exception:

  • students will not be contacted by the UKVI asking for any visa fees or fines. 
  • If there is an issue with a students’ visa the Home Office will contact the school directly.

If you have any concerns or questions about your visa please speak to your Welfare Officer or your Housemaster/mistress.