Our People


  • UK
  • Founder & Managing Director

  • Founder & Director

  • Consultant & School Placement Manager

  • Consultant & School Placement Manager

  • Tutor Placement Manager

  • Assessor


  • BEIJING

  • Educate Beijing Manager

  • Children's Club Manager

  • Early Years Consultant



  • TOKYO / GENEVA

  • Swiss Schools Consultant / Client Manager for Japan

Experts

  • Assessor, Consultant & Oxbridge Expert


  • Former Head of Benenden School & Schools Consultant


  • Musical Assessor, Music Scholarships, Consultant


  • University Consultant

  • Education Expert & University Consultant

Marina Byrne

founder & Managing director

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Marina was educated at Lady Eden's School and Benenden School where she was a scholar, followed by Royal Holloway, University of London and the Sorbonne, Paris. She has British, French and Chinese heritage and is fluent in French. Marina established Educate Private in 2012, swiftly followed by Educate Beijing in 2013, after a long and illustrious career as a Director at Bonas Macfarlane

She has a great deal of experience working in all aspects of education and for a time was in charge of clubs at Emerson House, a school for children with special needs. Marina is also an expert at foreign exchange programmes, having organised and presided over cultural trips to Paris and the South of France, as well as trips and homestays to and from the UK.

Marina's has developed client networks across Hong Kong, mainland China and Europe, as well Russia and the U.S. and has fostered excellent relationships with top schools in the UK. She continues to be a sought-after advisor for school placement programmes.

In addition, Marina has two little boys, who attend Wetherby Pre-Prep and Wetherby Prep (private schools in Central London). Marina's own experience with her boys allows her to fully appreciate the concerns each and every parent goes through, when making educational decisions for their children.

Marina is also proud mummy to the Nursery School Guide, a comprehensive directory of nurseries, services and shops across London, as well as an online magazine for parents. When she was pregnant with her first child Louis, she realised there was no real information around for new mums and mums-to-be. The Pretty Pages were devised to contain all the services she would have liked to know about when she first became a mummy and Scribbles, the magazine, is filled with expert advice and information on all things baby.

ANDREW THACKER

director

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Andrew was born in Hong Kong and was brought up throughout the Far East in Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong. He was educated at Haileybury in the UK, followed by UCL where he read Philosophy.

Andrew is a founding director of Educate Private and Educate Beijing, as well Educate's sister company Katana London, an independent brand consultancy.

Andrew has established and built businesses in both the UK and China and has a good understanding of the demand for elite British (and US) education throughout, and in particular China, Hong Kong and Japan

In addition to this, Andrew is married with two young children, a little girl at Kensington Prep and a little boy at Bousfield Primary School in London. Having experienced British private education first hand, through his own personal experience and now as a parent, he is highly knowledgeable and a keen advocate for the system.

LUCY ADDISON

Consultant and School Placement Manager

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Lucy joined the Educate team in February 2014, having previously worked at the highly regarded London day school, Garden House. Educated at Benenden School and later, Nottingham University, she has a love of art and studied History of Art as her degree.

Lucy was a Teaching Assistant at Garden House School for two and a half years and therefore knows the nursery, pre-prep and prep system, inside out. She is Educate Private's school placement manager, as well as an experienced Consultant.

Ed Whyte

Consultant and Tuition Placement Manager

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Ed was educated at Eaton House The Manor and Cothill House Preparatory School before going on to Eton College, where he was Head of his House and a mentor to the younger boys. He went on to achieve a degree in Politics at the University of Leeds. He first joined the team in November 2013.

As well as being one of Educate’s consultants, Ed also heads up much of the research on schools across the UK and has built excellent relationships with many of the most sought-after establishments in England. He regularly visits the schools with parents and is an expert on school and client liaison.

Millie Pissarro

tutor placement manager

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Millie is the most recent member to join the Educate team in December 2015. Millie was educated at Benenden School from the age of eleven until eighteen and having been inspired by her Geography teacher, she went on to study Geography and Urban and Regional planning at the University of Birmingham.

Millie assists in much of the nursery, school and university research and the recruitment of new tutors. She is always on the lookout for talented and experienced teachers and tutors.

Verity O'Gorman

Early Years Coordinator

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Verity O'Gorman is an Educate Private tutor as well as co-founder of the delicious new baking and preserve company, Unhampered. She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School and has a range of experience in all levels of tutoring, with focus on the early years. She runs an Educate Private baking club once a week and she has also spent a lot of time in the Educate London offices, recruiting tutors.

Verity also has extensive experience working with very young children, having taught at an Ofsted registered Kindergarten in London, where she was in charge of a group of children aged three months to five years old. She is very familiar with the Early Years Foundation framework; the curriculum followed by most nurseries and pre-prep schools across the UK.

More recently, Verity has been a part of the Portabello Rugby Trust Homework Club, helping children aged five to twelve years old with a broad range of subjects included in the national UK curriculum. She has also worked with children with dyslexia and other special needs, guiding them through areas they find challenging.

James Simmonds

Sports consultant

Portrait PhotoEducate Private's resident sportsman, James Simmonds was educated at Uppingham School before completing his degree at the University of Bristol, where he studied Business. This unsurprisingly led him into eight years working in the City before he decided a change of tack was in order. James is a great lover of sports, especially surfing, triathlon's and the Iron Man. He is a qualified Personal Trainer and motivational coach, and is currently studying for a qualification in Sports Nutrition and Wellbeing.

Rui Kono

Japan & swiss schools consultant / client manager for japan

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At the age of 11, Rui attended summer school in Summer Camp Montana. After one year of consideration studying abroad, she enrolled in St. George’s, one of the prominent public schools in Montreux. Having thrived within their education system, Rui successfully advanced and spent the next two years of high school at College du Leman. She continued her studies at the International University of Geneva, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Business Art and Communication and during which time, she developed valuable professional skills through her internship at the United Nations. Rui worked at the currency trading company in Geneva, after graduating in 2004.

Now based in London and Geneva, Rui provides local support service to Japanese cliental. She takes advantages of her Swiss education and broad network built over the past 12 years to provide comprehensive consulting service to Japanese cliental.

Ifeanyi Akiwumi-Thompson

Consultant & Client Manager for UAE and Nigeria

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  • A consultant at Katana Private, London.

Tisha Verma

assessor

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Tisha was educated at Wycombe Abbey School and went on to study English Literature at Oxford University. She completed the prestigious Teach First programme and is a very experienced tutor and teacher. She is a specialist consultant and assessor for Educate and has experience in teaching children from all over the world, including the UK, Beijing and Dubai.

Tisha worked at the Educate Beijing Offices in 2014 and has devised specialist learning plans and curriculums for Educate Private. Tisha has taught at a range of schools, as well as extensive private tuition and curriculum development programmes.

She is currently doing a Masters in Education at the prestigious Harvard University in the USA, and is due to graduate in May 2017.

Cecilia Gao

Educate beijing manager

Portrait Photo Cecilia has been with Educate Beijing since the beginning. She is trilingual, speaking fluent Mandarin, English and Japanese and is a qualified teacher. She was educated at Anshan No. 1 Middle School and attended Beijing Language and Culture University, after which she spent a year living and studying in Japan. She deals with much of the client liaison and translation in China and is responsible for managing tuition and educational programmes for all Asia-based clients.

Stephanie Wang

Children's club manager

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Stephanie graduated from the University of Birmingham in the UK, with a degree in Childhood Culture and Education. She then proceeded to earn her Masters degree from The University of Manchester, focusing specifically on International Education. Stephanie then moved back to China to become a teacher-trainer at one of Beijing’s top children’s centres, whilst also continuing her passion for teaching children at the same time. She is familiar with the British education system and the curriculum in the UK.


Stephanie is currently one of the teachers at Educate Beijing, helping Chinese children who need bi-lingual (Mandarin and English) support in their lessons. She is comfortable helping students of different ages and English ability. Stephanie also helps our Chinese parents communicate with our British tutors, providing feedback from the children’s lessons, and advising on future tuition.


David Green

Head of training and learning programmes

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  • David is the Head of Training and Learning Programmes at Educate Beijing.

Rebecca Stroud

Early years consultant

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  • Rebecca is the Early Years Consultant at Educate Beijing.

FROG STONE

Assessor, Consultant and Oxbridge Expert

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Since reading History at Cambridge University, Frog has built up an international reputation as an educator over the last ten years with huge success in preparing students for their first choice schools and universities.

Based in London, she has been sought by families in the USA, China, Hong Kong, Moscow and Dubai as well as across the UK with a waiting list of up to a year in advance. Frog has been described as a 'super tutor' by The Sunday Times, featured in Tatler and is on The lndependent’s list of leading educators. Our clients know her as 'the secret weapon'.

Frog assesses students of all ages, devises individual learning plans for students and consults on senior schools, universities and Oxbridge applications. She has a 100% track record of A and A• grades at Common Entrance, GCSE and A-Level, is an Oxbridge entrance specialist and an expert-level examiner in History for the British exam board Edexcel. Frog is a chartered educational assessor with Edexcel Pearson Education.

Gillian duCharme

Former head of beneden school and school's consultant

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Dr. Gillian duCharme has twenty years of independent school headship experience, first at the Town School, New York and subsequently at Benenden School, one of the leading boarding schools in Britain. Whilst at Benenden, Gillian founded the Hong Kong Trust, which provides gifted children with scholarships to the school.

Since 2003 Gillian has been doing searches and governance work worldwide including Turkey, Bermuda and China. She also oversees heads of schools and administrator evaluations and advises schools on marketing and development issues. She is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and the European Council of International Schools.

A former governor and fellow of Wellington School and the University of Greenwich, Gillian currently sits on the advisory board of several top school trusts including Marlborough House School and Blackheath Preparatory School. Gillian is an expert schools consultant with extensive experience in advising both parents and schools on admissions. She was awarded an honorary doctorate of education in 2005.

Claire Meyer

Musical assessor, music scholarships, Consultant

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Passionate about teaching! Founding Principal, Director of the acclaimed Chelsea Quavers Music School in London and mother of one, Claire has taught Piano, Music Theory & General Musicianship to children & adults for over 20 years, preparing pupils for Music Scholarship examinations to top UK public schools, and ABRSM Piano & Theory examinations. Claire has worked with Educate Private and delivered both Skype and face-to-face tutorials.

Jonathan Watts

University consultant

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Jonathan studied History at the Queen’s College Oxford, and York University. After teaching at Manchester Grammar School and running the history departments at Ashville College Harrogate and Birkenhead, he was, from 1988 to 2012, Head of History and Politics at Benenden, the girls’ boarding school in Kent.

He became the school’s first male housemistress in 1993 and was also responsible for advising students about Oxbridge application. He has wide experience of the academic, pastoral and administrative sides of school life, developing particular roles in the thorough preparation of sixth-formers for all aspects of university entry. He has been a GCSE and A-level examiner, has written extensively and has been a governor of four independent schools with a particular interest in curriculum development.

He now works as a consultant in the UK and Asia for students, teachers, schools, colleges, parents and school governors on a wide range of educational and academic issues, through personalised advice and guidance, on-line teaching and organising workshops.

He is the author of a recently published parents’ guide to university application in the UK, part of the Parents’ Brief series.

He can offer advice to parents and students in the UK and overseas on a broad range of educational topics such as:

- Choosing the right sixth-form programme

- Selecting UK universities and choosing the right subjects and courses

- Applying to Oxford and Cambridge and the specialist tests involved

- How to gain an offer from a university and ensure a good quality school reference

- Writing a UCAS Personal Statement

- The UCAS system

- Interview preparation for school or university entry

- GAP years

- Dealing with problems once a student is at university

Dee Francken

Education expert and university consultant

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  • A consultant at Katana Private, London.

Donald Billingsley

Education expert and university consultant

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Dr. Billingsley is the former Dean and Associate Dean of both UC Berkeley and Yale University and has extensive experience in both the European and U.S. education systems. Drawing on a long and illustrious career in secondary and university education he prepares students to be successful at the most demanding universities in the world.

Dr. Billingsley’s students are taught to read and write and interpret at a high level of sophistication. They are encouraged to develop academic and social balance. The intervention is painstaking and intensive, but the results are spectacular. His students are regularly admitted to elite universities and once admitted, they excel. Virtually all of his former students have graduated from university with highest honours.

The universities referred to include UC Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, Oxford University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, NYU, McGill, Wheaton, MIT, University of Chicago, Purdue, UCL, McMasters, University of Toronto and Brown.

Dr. Billingsley is Founder of Quality Audits in Education and is also the former Headmaster and Director General of a number of senior schools in Europe and the U.S. He is a graduate of Yale and the University of Hamburg, and has Ph.D. in Anthropology from The Johns Hopkins University.

Verity O'Gorrnan

Early Years Tutor

Verity O'Gorman is an Educate Private tutor as well as co-founder of the delicious new baking and preserve company,Unhampered. She was educated at Wycombe Abbey Schooland has a range of experience in all levels of tutoring, with focus on the early years. She runs an Educate Private baking club once a week and she has also spent a lot of time in the Educate London offices, recruiting tutors.

Verity also has extensive experience working with very young children, having taught at an Ofsted registered Kindergarten in London, where she was in charge of a group of children aged three months to five years old.She is very familiar with the Early Years Foundation framework; the curriculum followed by most nurseries and pre-prep schools across the UK.

More recently, Verity has been a part of the Portabello Rugby Trust Homework Club,helping children aged five to twelve years old with a broad range of subjects included in the nationalUK curriculum.She has also worked with children with dyslexia and other special needs, guiding them through areas they find challenging.