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Once again, the new year has brought great news for Step Ahead and our tutees and their tutors.

Another large batch of youngsters have gained places in a variety of independent schools as a result of Entrance Tests.

Prelim results for National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers have been very encouraging.

Several new tutors have joined us - and they are all welcome.

Sadly we have to report that we have lost one of our best ever tutors, Brian Ogilvie. Our Director represented Step Ahead at Brian's Memorial Service where it was evident the esteem in which Brian was held. RIP.



Late 2019


Several pieces of exciting news to report as the year rapidly comes to an end :

One of our very best younger tutors, Hilary Clydesdale, has just been awarded - Master of Science with Distinction in English Literature. An outstanding achievement!

Congratulations are due to Fergus D, one of our 11 year old tutees who applied for, made a presentation, was voted for, interviewed, and appointed - HEAD BOY at Cairneyhill P.S.

We are thrilled to record that one of our tutees, Qingyang X, has won the Scottish National badminton title for singles and female doubles at Under 11.

As each year, there will be no let up for those tutees who are preparing for Prelims or Entrance exams, They will be working hard with their tutors in the final days and weeks, including over the Christmas school holidays.



Autumn 2019

 We are delighted to report that David Chambers has been appointed Deputy Director of Step Ahead.  Dave is a very experienced and outstanding school teacher and has been achieving significant successes with our tutees.

He is already working close to our Director and will start to take more and more responsibility for the development of the business. After 23 years, George feels that the contributions that Dave brings and will bring in the future are of great benefit to clients and tutors alike.

Social media has never played much of a part with Step Ahead, but we are being encouraged to ask ALL our clients and tutors to "follow" Step Ahead on Facebook. Please help us grow by undertaking that simple task, and by encouraging others - family, friends and neighbours - to do likewise.  And while you are at it, please refer people to these News pages on our web-site.


In 2013 the Sutton Trust published Parent Power?, a landmark piece of work authored by

Prof Becky Francis and Prof Merryn Hutchings demonstrating how social class influences parents’ ability to support their children in their schooling. Five years later Parent Power 2018 revisits the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.

 One of the main recommendations :

Implement a means-tested voucher scheme for tuition and enrichment. The government should introduce a means-tested voucher system, funded through the Pupil premium, enabling lower income families to purchase additional educational support. Through this, lower income families could access additional support and enrichment, including extra-curricular activities and one-to-one tuition. Limited trials of such voucher schemes have shown them to be successful. Tutors should be experienced and well qualified.


 From the Times Education Supplement Scotland online of 26th September 2019 Teachers told John Swinney his promise to recruit an extra 1000 school support staff, while welcome, would have little impact unless it was coupled with a commitment to increase additional support needs (ASN) teacher numbers.  One teacher, Eddie Burns, who addressed Mr Swinney at the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) in Glasgow yesterday said that the promise was “like putting an Elastoplast on a broken leg”. 

Step Ahead knows that there is considerable concern from many parents especially as ASN teacher numbers dropped by over 500 between 2012 and 2017, from 3,248 to just 2,733. Meanwhile, the number of pupils with ASNs rose by over 65,000, from 118,034 to 183,491.


We recommend the writings of Cameron Wylie, recently retired Head of George Heriot's School, and a true educator, and someone worth listening to. He has a column in "The Scotsman" but can be followed on=line : "A House in Joppa." 

He does not hide away from controversial subjects, for example last week's being "The Great Unspoken Issue:"  “Research suggests that the vast majority of boys and an increasing number of girls access porn regularly, and most of our young people develop into entirely normal, health, loving human beings.  But, just as a small proportion of those who start with alcopops will become alcoholics, or those who share a spliff at 16…will become addicted to drugs, there are those kids who will, in effect, become addicted to a porn habit and that habit will, I’m afraid, damage them in all sorts of ways – their ‘moral character’ being the least of their worries."  The full article is worth a read.



Summer 2019


Before the start of the school summer holidays, we would wish to record our congratulations to a number of our tutees: 

to more than two dozen girls and boys who have gained independent school places for August;

to Bertie Mc who has won the Scholarship to George Heriot's School :  this follows on from Jason T, also one of our tutees, who won it last year;

for outstanding creative writing pieces, produced by several pupils, which have won awards;

to David C and Caitlin H who both sailed through their Police Standard Entrance exams, their fitness tests, and their interviews;

to now-10 year old Matthew Mc who continues to amaze academically, and arrived recently armed with, and able to pronounce, the longest word in the English language (see below).

Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters) ...

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (34 letters) ..

Hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostomies (39 letters) ...

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)


Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, a word that refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano.


Disappointingly some schools are clearly struggling to cope with the range of learning, social and medical difficulties that they are experiencing in their classes. We have had a very alarming example of this as six children, all from the same school, and all in different year-groups, have been seen recently, and all six who are more than able pupils, are seriously under-achieving.

Worryingly, increasing numbers of parents from many parts of the East of Scotland are contacting us expressing concern that they feel that their children's potential is not being realised.


Some issues for consideration :

New figures from the SQA show that exam results have fallen by a third since standard grades were replaced by Nationals. The statistics show that overall in 2013 – the year before the new qualifications were introduced – there were 555,631 entries for national qualifications at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels 3-5, the levels covered by the old foundation, general and credit Standard grade. However, entries at those levels under the new qualifications regime had dropped to 415,708 by last year, a fall of 25 per cent.  Meanwhile, attainment volume – the number of A-to-C passes at those levels – went from 508,453 to 339,516 over the same period, a fall of 33 per cent.

 Article by a secondary school teacher, "Boys don’t read or won’t read – let them play Xbox instead." "Boys don’t like writing – it’s difficult and pointless – let them watch football instead." "Boys don’t communicate, so it’s OK if they answer with a grunt, eat dinner on their bed and don’t engage."  While we don’t want to try and make boys behave like girls, the over-worn trope that “boys will be boys” in statements like those above provides a convenient excuse: an excuse for boys passively to accept the role society dictates for them, and an excuse for adults engaging with them. And it’s an excuse that is failing our boys. “We cannot inspire change when we passively accept our own low expectations of boys – this is how we disempower our young men."


Article by Hugh Ouston (Warden at Glenalmond College) on problem solving and how “we do our children a great disservice when we do not challenge them… The last thing we should do is protect our pupils from what is difficult”.  Mr Ouston talks about how Glenalmond pupils are challenged (e.g. the junior drama production of Peer Gynt) and how “only when a school provides this kind of challenge can children learn the most important lesson: how to become adults. 


Finally, we send our best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable (and sunny) holiday period to all involved with Step Ahead.



Easter 2019


Wishing all our tutees, families, friends, and tutors and their families a very Happy Easter!

As usual at this time of the year, emphasis has turned on the SQA National examinations which are almost upon us.  Excellent reports from tutors suggest that our youngsters are going to produce yet more outstanding results.  Very best wishes to all examinees.

And congratulations to our recent batch of adult tutees who have gained entry to the Scottish Police Service.


Some current news:

The findings of Nielsen Book Research’s annual survey into the reading habits of British children show that most parents stop reading to their child by the age of eight, with 19% of 8-10 year olds read to daily by an adult across all socioeconomic groups.  Boys are less likely to be read to daily than girls, at 14% compared to 24%.  According to experts, story time should be an intrinsic part of the school day up to their teens.  Egmont Publishers said the decline in parents reading to their children signalled a “significant threat to children’s wellbeing.” It highlighted a strong correlation between older children being read to and children choosing to read independently for pleasure.


The retired Head of George Heriot's, Cameron Wylie, has written, "I think the first step in closing the poverty-related attainment gap should be to ensure that all Scottish schoolchildren can read and write and use a computer at a level appropriate to their age by the time they leave primary school".  Hear, hear!  Step Ahead has held that view over the past two decades and more, and such a statement echoes the wishes of parents who bring their children to us.


For those taking National subjects, six N5s are now apparently the norm for S4 pupils - down from eight or nine a decade ago.  Unfilled teacher posts remains high – almost 700.  The lack of music provision in state schools risks depriving the industry of future talents. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) suggests there is a growing disparity between the music offered in state and independent schools across the UK.   

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI has said, “These BPI findings make us profoundly concerned that music education and tuition in state schools is beginning to lag far behind that in the independent sector." 



Winter-Spring 2019


February 1997 saw the start of Step Ahead, so after 22 years we are still going strong - well some more than others, it has to be said.

Congratulations to the likes of Tony Aitken, Moira McCann, John Kilday, Mike Chandler and Jonathan Shelley who joined our Director in the late 1990s.

Of course, we have been joined over the two decades by other outstanding tutors, many of whom have helped youngsters and adults to fulfil their potential and also produce some astonishing results in a wide range of examinations, particularly at school, college and university levels.

Talking of which we are in the process of collating this year's independent school offers, and we are again thrilled to report that at least two dozen Step Ahead youngsters have been offered places, including scholarship and bursary awards.  Some have actually been offered places in more than one prestigious school - mainly in Edinburgh and Fife.

David C and Trevor M should be mentioned particularly as, along with our Director, they lead the team who provide such a service.

Our grand total is fast approaching 400 (yes, four hundred) successful entrants, with scholarship awards in to double figures. Several of the independent schools are very well aware of the involvement of Step Ahead and of the standard that we help youngsters achieve, and have remarked positively on it. 

Preparations are in full swing for the SVQ Examinations, especially for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher levels in the forthcoming month of May.

We are also delighted to report further adults have been aided to successfully pass entrance tests for the police force, fire service and RAF this year.

Step Ahead believes that we have consistently and continuously demonstrated what can be achieved with the right commitment and attitude so it is disappointing to learn that things do not appear to be improving nationally on the education front.

Two areas of concern are featured below:


Larger numbers of teachers are leaving the profession than ever before. Unfortunately, this phenomenon will get worse before it gets better. Our society simultaneously devalues teaching and demands more from educators. The status quo chides educators to work for the "love of teaching", or out of "love for the students", and vilifies us when we ask for adequate pay. It also poo-poos away the very real and oftentimes deleterious effects of our sustained output of emotional labour. The educational system has been "corporatized" - which is not a sustainable model, and which has resulted in abominable conditions for students and educators, alike. We can do better than this.  We must.



More than £185 million has been spent in recent years to meet the growing cost of supply teachers in Scotland as classroom vacancies continue to mount. In the past year over £60m was paid by councils to cover supply teachers filling in at schools across tens of thousands of days, with the bill rising by almost £1m in 2018, a Freedom of Information request has found.


In the past year over £60 million was paid by councils to cover supply teachers filling in at schools.  And more than £100,000 was taken from the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) – Scottish Government cash set aside to close the attainment gap in schools – prompting fears that the money is simply plugging teacher shortages. This reliance on supply teachers also fails to provide children with the consistency that they need, and gives head teachers significant challenges. The highest pay-out was in Glasgow – the country’s biggest council – with a bill of more than £15m in 2017/18 – a rise of £1.5m on the previous year. Supply teachers are hired when schools cannot fill teaching post and can charge almost £200 a day in some parts of the country. The rise in their cost comes after recent figures showed there are almost 700 teaching vacancies across Scotland, including head and deputy head posts, while thousands of positions have been re-advertised as schools struggle to fill roles.

Teaching union the EIS said the cost highlights a “crisis” in teacher recruitment in Scotland.“There are occasions when using supply teachers is an appropriate option, eg short- term illness,” a spokeswoman said.“Having to use supply teachers to cover vacancies, however, is just one example of the effects of the current recruitment and retention crisis facing Scottish education. “The lack of supply cover in many areas is a further example of the staffing challenge facing schools. In order to make teaching an attractive career option, issues of severe workload and declining pay must be addressed.” The number of teachers in Scotland’s schools has fallen by more than 3,000 in the last decade to fewer than 52,000.



End of 2018


It has been a tremendously successful year during which large numbers of tutees have passed a variety of examinations at school, college and university levels, as well as more adults being admitted into the arenas of the police, fire, social work and teaching.

So congratulations are due to the tutees themselves and to their outstanding tutors.

We hope that you all have an enjoyable break over the festive period. We are already looking forward to the New Year.

On a less happy note, our politicians seem quite unable to agree on much, including in education, and instead of pulling together for the betterment of our children, they seem intent on scoring points against each other.  There is even a threat of teachers' strikes in the coming year - something which has not happened since the 1980s.  Let's hope that the powers that be will put our children first!



Autumn 2018


Lots of exciting and positive news to report on involving tutees and tutors.

Our 100% record (over 40 in total) of helping get adults in to the Police Force is still intact with the latest recruits all successful, and two more in preparation.

Several youngsters have been offered independent school places this term, even though the main entrance exams do not start until late November and through December and January.

We are thrilled to report that Jason T, who received the highly prestigious Senior School Scholarship at George Heriot's, has hit the ground running as has Ben W (also in the top six scorers) - both proving to be outstanding students. Others of whom we have heard - Ailsa W, Zahra S and Ella B - are also doing well at GHS.

During the past two decades we have helped over 170 youngsters gain places at Dollar Academy, including this year - Isaac H, Alexander M, James M, Cooper E, Alexander W, Scott M, Ronan A and Ryan J.

Matthew A was initially not keen to attend an independent school, but has loved George Watson's since he started there and is thriving in that environment, as is Fred D and Sam D.

We also understand that The Edinburgh Academy is suiting Helena B, whilst Merchiston Castle is proving a great choice for Savva N. 

One of our top tutors, David C, has reported how pleased he is with the progress of Cayden G, who despite her very young years is reading well and tackling all tasks well.  Our tutors report regularly to our Director and Trevor M, a very popular tutor, has expressed his satisfaction with all of his tutees aged from 7 years to 17 years. 

We are fortunate in that we get to meet some outstanding people, and currently we have some very clever and committed children, backed by equally dedicated parents. Mums Samina and Moona are perfect examples as they value highly the education of their children and are prioritising same.

Our Director, George, tells us that we have reported on Matthew Mc previously, and Matthew is now continuing to impress and amaze.  Amongst his other achievements he has scored 14 years 3 months on the Schonell Diagnostic and Attainment spelling test.  Whilst three others have equalled that score in the past, all three were 11 year olds, while Matthew is still only nine years old!!

George is also predicting great things for Bertie Mc who has started very promisingly.

For the eighth successive year, STEP AHEAD has been chosen to provide tutors for The City of Edinburgh Council education initiative in Cameron House Community Centre, Prestonfield, on the south side of the City.

George spent half-term in New York and was given the opportunity of meeting with the Principal of The British International School of New York. Having himself run a British International school in the past, George loved being back in that environment, and was invited to speak to classes (one of which is being taught by one of George's sons) who are studying the British monarchy and the US republic.



Session 2018-19


Well the new session has started for us with a bang! Once again, outstanding national examination results - and many very happy tutees and parents.

It is so rewarding to hear that a number of our youngsters have earned their university and/or college places.

However the national picture in education is not looking so rosy.

Almost 700 teaching posts across Scotland remained unfilled with less than two weeks left until pupils returned for the new term. 

Areas such as Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray are facing a real shortage of staff, with the Highlands and Glasgow also having a higher numbers of unfilled vacancies.

Subjects such as science, maths and computing are the most in-need with the majority of shortages across the country being in those key subject areas. 

Music, languages, physical education and home economics are also all undergoing a shortage. 


John Swinney, the Education Secretary, was forced to shelve plans for the biggest shake-up in decades of Scotland's education system after fierce criticism from teachers, parents and opponents. He chose a time in the summer when other major news was dominating the headlines to announce that he would not move forward with the new Education Bill - despite previous claims that his flagship education policy (his Government's stated priority area) would offer a boost to pupils and teachers.


Last week, Mr Swinney insisted that in Scotland there is no "crisis in morale" among Scottish teachers as he faced a grilling over punishing workloads and low pay.

The SNP Deputy Leader was told by one retiring head teacher that the profession is "haemorrhaging" staff with questions raised over his ability to deal with the situation. Mr Swinney also played down the prospect of a strike over pay as he appeared on the BBC Radio Scotland phone-in with Stephen Jardine.

But he admitted there were "challenges" in the profession as he was grilled by one retiring primary teacher, identified as Susan, who has worked in the profession for the past 39 years.

She said: "The number of teachers who are leaving - haemorrhaging out of the profession - I would like to know how many probationer teachers carry on and how many years they go into the profession.

"You have a real crisis in recruitment and retention and I don't hear anything there that you've said this morning that would convince me that you have got a handle on this.

She added: "The working time agreement for teachers is almost a joke - there's no way teachers can do the work in the contracted hours in enough time. The morale is so low."

The Education Secretary accepted that teaching is a "very, very busy and demanding life" and admits he often gets "tough feedback" in discussions with teachers.He said: "My door is very much open on this question to try to reduce the amount of bureaucratic burden that teachers feel they are facing.

Mr Swinney added, “I don’t think that we have a crisis in morale. I think what we have got is a very challenging period in education where we have some staff shortages. The last vacancy survey said we were about 800 teachers short - about 1.5% of the teaching contingent in Scotland."

Mr Swinney's comments are in direct contrast to what I am told on a very regular basis by many stressed teachers - working in all sectors - who cannot take much more, and also from parents who have their ear to the ground and listen to their schools and teachers.


I have just heard from a concerned parent who told me that she had taken her two children to their weekly swimming lessons.

She said, "It’s based in our catchment secondary school. In the school hall there is food crushed and stamped into the floor, a yogurt smashed against the wall, and juice spilled alI across the floor in the main corridor.

It got me thinking:  for goodness sake it’s only the first day back and this is the kids trashing the school already.
Every time I take my children to swimming I think to myself, 'Now will my children attend here?'  It’s the best secondary school in the area; the rest are so much worse.
The sad part was trying to explain to my children why there was food and juice all over the walls and floor.  My 7 year old daughter's question was, ' Mum, why would grown up children do this?'

My 5 year old son said, ' My P7 buddy was starting school here today and came into this....' "


Regardless of any of the negativity and doom and gloom, it is our intention that Step Ahead will continue to offer our pupils the highest quality of service, as we have been doing for the past two decades and more.



Summer 2018


Although schools close for summer holidays, Step Ahead continues.

Indeed many of our tutees do their best work in summer holiday periods once they have had a break.  Seven weeks, and in the case of some, ten weeks, is actually detrimental for many children to have such a gap in their education.  There is clear evidence that progress will cease - or indeed regress.

As many prepare for new classes, especially in high school or independent school, having youngsters "up and running" for their new start can be very beneficial, not only in the short term.

Many tutees whether at examination level or simply after a successful year thoroughly deserve warm congratulations.

As an example, one such youngster is Brooke M, whose tutor is full of praise for her all-round work, but particularly her creative writing, which includes, as an 8 year old such as, "She gasped to herself as she saw the bubbling lava rise further...",  "My legs went to jelly, I turned pale and set off pretending to be brave, but as I passed the graveyard gate, it creaked which made my hair stand on end."

A further example of an outstanding level of spelling, understanding, and correct use, of words came from 9 year old Matthew Mc - using and spelling words like "endeavour", "pronounce", "impatient", "sacrifice".

To everyone associated with Step Ahead, we trust that you will all have a great and sunny summer!



April/May 2018


For the seventh successive year, Step Ahead tutors have undertaken the exciting Cameron House examination preparation programme involving students from a variety of schools - in Higher and National English and maths.

We are equally pleased that tutors are again reporting that their tutees are preparing well for the imminent National exams, and trust that we shall again be reporting outstanding results come August.

The highly-useful and well-read annual "School Guide" magazine - the indispensable guide to Edinburgh's best independent and state schools - has again interviewed our Director and has a detailed article written by him covering all that parents need to know about "School Entrance Exams."


February/March 2018


Hugely exciting news as three Step Ahead tutees have been offered Scholarships for leading independent schools.

Jason T has accepted the Scholarship offer at George Heriot's School who have also given a bursary to Zahra S. Other Scholarship results are pending.

Once again this year Step Ahead tutees are going to be taking up a number of places in private schools in Edinburgh and Fife, as well as further afield.  Congratulations are certainly due to them, as well as to their outstanding tutors, whilst we wish to acknowledge our appreciation for many parents taking the time to provide us with (glowing) testimonials.

The Scotland on Sunday newspaper has published an article with the heading 'Education in Crisis' which has featured the views of several of our teachers. That article can be viewed on our Facebook pages : @stepaheadtuition


Early 2018


We trust that tutees and tutors alike are refreshed and ready to resume in preparation for whatever examinations are to be faced.

Nationally the new year has not started particularly well.  Following the two news items below, several other major issues have been revealed - and you can read about these, and subsequent ones, on our facebook pages :  @stepaheadtuition


December 2017


Step Ahead wishes all our clients, tutors and friends a very enjoyable Christmas and Happy New Year.

2018 is likely to prove a challenging year for those involved in education which does not have its troubles to seek, as we have been recording on our news pages!

This year has ended with the following separate news items, just two examples of the issues facing educators :


1.  A leading headmaster has condemned the Scottish Government’s plan to raise £5 million from private schools, saying he now feels “utterly despondent” that he had supported the SNP in the past. Rod Grant, headteacher at the fee-paying Clifton Hall School outside Edinburgh, said plans to end business rates relief for institutions like his would “wreck” Scottish education by placing a huge financial burden on the state sector.

Grant’s remarks came as the backlash against the controversial plans outlined in last week’s Scottish budget mounted. Headteachers warned they would force up school fees, reduce the number of children from low-income families being privately educated and even lead to the closure of schools. In an article posted on the Clifton Hall Facebook page, Grant argued that the policy had been driven by a “narrow-minded” desire to “kick” private schools.

Last week Finance Secretary Derek Mackay produced a budget that will end the arrangement whereby private schools are exempted from paying 80 per cent of their business rates. The policy is estimated to raise £5m, but its opponents have argued it will drive up school fees, cut bursaries and force many families to pull children out of private schools.

Grant estimated that the consequence of more children having to be educated by the state would be £10.8m bill for the taxpayer. “The anticipated effect of this policy will be that around 1,800 return, almost overnight, to state-funded education,” Grant wrote. “State education costs the government £6,000 per pupil. On that basis the implementation of this policy will cost the country £10.8m whilst the rates increase will bring in £5m. “So let’s be really clear, this is an attack on independent schools. It will not increase revenue, it will reduce it. It will not improve education it will continue to wreck it. It will not decrease social inequality, it will strengthen the dogma of elitism.”

Grant said it was wrong to characterise independent schools as elitist, arguing that one quarter of his pupils receive financial assistance, which meant children from all economic backgrounds were at Clifton Hall. “I’m really saddened that at a time when schools like mine are doing everything they can to be community-spirited, less elite and, in particular, absolutely devoted to ensuring children from the poorest of backgrounds can attend, government seeks to add a tax burden on a tiny group of charitable institutions in complete contradiction to its stated aim of reducing inequity in society. This must, therefore, be a political decision as it certainly isn’t a financial one, which is really narrow-minded.”

Grant warned that the business rates hike would force private schools to close ranks and stop sharing expertise and facilities with state schools and the community. He said: “I am now utterly despondent that I put my cross against SNP at the last election as this now appears to be a government that has rapidly changed from a socially democratic and ethical party into a body that is infatuated with control, dislikes dissent and is fixated on every element of society toeing the line. “Unfortunately, this latest political decision directly affects children, Scotland’s children. The policy is being introduced not to avoid elitism, not to increase revenue, not out of some philosophical deeply held belief in us all being Jock Tamson’s bairns, but rather to kick ‘private’ education because it doesn’t fit with the government’s notion of educational equality.”

Grant’s claim that there would be an increased burden on the state sector was echoed by Cameron Wyllie, the principal of George Heriot’s in Edinburgh, who suggested the future of smaller private schools would be on the line. “Obviously, we at Heriot’s are very disappointed that the Scottish Government has come to this decision.” said Wyllie. “We do not believe, in essence, that the move will bring in any revenue, when it is balanced against the increased costs to the education budget in Scotland which will accrue from pupils leaving independent schools because a) their parents cannot afford the increased fees or b) schools find themselves having to reduce bursarial aid in order to find the money or c) because schools close.”

John Edward of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), which represents more than 70 institutions, said: “It would only take three per cent of our pupils, which is nothing, to go back to the state sector for the £5m to be wiped out altogether. This is at a time when they are being told to build over 500 new classrooms by 2020 just to accommodate the rise in secondary pupils. If the numbers don’t add up, which they don’t, it suggests it wasn’t a financial argument. If it is not a financial argument then at least have the decency to say so.” Wyllie said it was a “crumb of comfort” that the Scottish Government had said it would exempt independent special schools from the business rates hike.

However, Edward said it was still unclear how schools for children with additional needs would be separated from mainstream private schools in the legislation. He also suggested that many children who needed learning support were educated in the larger mainstream private schools. The rates change was originally proposed in the Barclay Review, an exercise commissioned by the Scottish Government to examine business rates and carried out by former RBS head of Scottish operations Ken Barclay. The review, published in September, also said the arm’s length bodies running leisure and cultural facilities for councils (ALEOs) and universities should pay the full amount. The Scottish Government decided against ending business rates relief for ALEOs and universities.



2.  An Edinburgh school has failed in its bid to fill two vacant maths teacher positions - at the second attempt. Trinity Academy has been plagued by a teacher shortage in recent months with university students drafted in to cover maths lessons. Trinity Academy has been ravaged by teacher shortages.

Despite a number of individuals applying for the positions, nobody deemed suitable has come forward to fill them. The two maths positions at the secondary school have remained vacant since the summer. The issues faced at Trinity are indicative of a wider problem facing schools all over the country, with many, particularly in rural areas, citing severe staffing shortages. In a letter, Trinity Academy rector, Bryan Paterson, appealed to parents, asking for their help in recruiting suitable candidates. “I write to assure you that plans have been put into place to mitigate against the national shortage and to ensure that all classes are supported by mathematics ­teachers. “Where necessary, maths teachers may also share some classes, particularly in S1-S3, with colleagues from other faculties who have a mathematics background. “Finally, if any parent can support us in any way, or knows anyone who might be able to do so, please contact me directly.”

It was later announced that university students would be drafted in to assist with lessons, while an established teacher took charge of the class. On Trinity Academy’s latest recruitment failure, a City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “We have been working closely with the school over filling the vacancies and will continue with the various measures put in place, which has the support of the Parent Council, to minimise disruption to the pupils’ learning. Our priority remains ensuring that the curriculum continues to be delivered to the highest possible standard."

Mr Paterson has said there will be a drive to enlist probation teachers in the New Year. The remaining maths teacher vacancies are expected to be re-listed in due course. A Scottish government spokesperson has noted the challenges faced by schools in certain areas of the country. “Although teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we recognise some areas have faced challenges filling vacancies. This is why we have invested £88m in 2017 alone, resulting in 453 more teachers in Scottish classrooms than last year. “We have taken decisive action to help recruit and retain teachers through our Teaching Makes People campaign, focusing specifically on attracting new teachers and career changers into Stem and other subjects. “We also recently announced bursaries of £20,000 for career changers to train to become teachers of priority Stem subjects.”

November 2017


There is rarely a day that goes by when we do not hear of further widespread concern about the state of Scottish education.

Anxious parents contact us for advice, tutors report conversations with parents and tutees, teachers in schools express bewilderment, and are increasingly stressed, and a variety of politicians,councillors, journalists, community groups all seek information or advice.

Last week a tutor reported a conversation that took place between a concerned parent and her child's teacher. The mother was stating that her child is bored, is under-achieving and needs more challenge, including homework.

The teacher's response was that the child was doing fine, and that she could set her own homework, and concluded by stating : "We create a NON-COMPETITIVE, inclusive and non-threatening environment."



Reaction to "Head above the parapet"


We have been receiving many reactions supporting the teacher who has exposed the situation in schools.

Widespread comments such as, " No surprise in any of it. Hopefully tide soon turning as the curriculum isn't meeting any child's needs and is impossible for teachers to negotiate."

And, "Indeed. I agree with what he is saying. We are changing so much that no one really knows what they are doing any more. That's how I feel."


Head above the parapet


A Scottish secondary school teacher has written an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon in which he describes Scotland’s education system as “utterly broken”.


Mark Wilson, a biology teacher at Dunfermline High School, claims that a sub-standard curriculum and “never-ending bureaucracy” is preventing school staff from doing their jobs properly.


“Today, right now in schools across Scotland, teachers are losing morale on a scale I’ve never seen,” stated Mark Wilson.


In a letter to the Scottish First Minister published on his blog and reported by the Herald newspaper, he described the SNP’s flagship education reform Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) as a “disaster” for pupils and teachers.


He claimed that the standard of Scottish education had gone into “unprecedented decline” over the past six years, adding that the curriculum was “utterly failing the children in our care”.


Mr Wilson, who has been a teacher for 16 years and is also a successful novelist, was previously a member of the SNP and voted in favour of Scottish independence in 2014.


“Today, right now in schools across Scotland, teachers are losing morale on a scale I’ve never seen and didn’t think could happen,” he wrote. “The current conditions for teachers are so gruelling that we are beginning to hate,

to dread, stress over and now depart a role we loved so much.” ‘Ground down’ He added: “Teachers are demoralised, stressed and being ground down because we know that we are not doing the best that we can for the kids in our care.


“We are being prevented by a sub-standard curriculum and never-ending bureaucracy from educating our kids properly. We are failing these kids.”


Ms Sturgeon has promised that improving education is her “number one priority” after studies showed pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills worsening and the nation sliding down international league tables.


Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said the letter was a “serious warning” to the SNP and called on ministers to stop “dithering” on reforms to CfE.


“This teacher speaks for many when he highlights the lack of clear direction within the Curriculum for Excellence and the lack of academic rigour in far too many subjects, all of which is having a devastating effect on teacher morale,” she added.


A Scottish Government spokesman said it “values teachers for the vital work they do educating and inspiring our young people” and insisted that CfE was the “right approach” for Scotland. He added: “We have made a commitment to tackle bureaucracy and address excessive teacher workload.

“That will continue to be a key theme of our bold education reforms, which also include headteachers being given more power to make decisions in their schools to improve education and more money to make the changes needed.

“Changes to National Qualifications were welcomed when announced last year, with the removal of unit assessments freeing up time for teachers to focus on learning and teaching.”


Unfortunately we have to report that many of our tutors who are teachers are reporting similarly, and words like "stressed out", "demoralised"," demotivated", "low morale", "confused" are being heard regularly.


 September 2017


Our reputation is clearly spreading as more and more interest is being expressed in our work in preparing youngsters for independent school entry.

.We have received a number of enquiries in September, many much earlier at the start of autumn than usual, and we have already seen several very able pupils indeed!

Usually once a tutor has worked with a tutee, or completed work after several months, or longer, and often after the euphoria of outstanding examination results, we receive, and are grateful for, glowing testimonials.

However, we were thrilled recently to receive one immediately after an assessment had been carried out by our Director, and we are proud to quote from it, as it demonstrates the value of our approach and our USP :

"  A small note to say thank you for sharing your passion for learning with both our boys. 

It was a delight to meet you.

You managed to sum up, in such a short time, both boys perfectly, and our thoughts on their learning.

You do have a wonderful way for seeing what is needed, and exciting them about learning.

Both of us felt certain that, although we had not been recommended to you, we had made the right choice both in seeing you, in going ahead to have tutoring, and in trying the children out for a private school.  "



 Early August 2017


Examination results for senior pupils tend to be the be all and end all at this time of year.

Step Ahead tutees invariably report outstanding successes, and this year is no exception!

It is still early days as youngsters return from holidays and get ready to re-start school, but we are already hearing of some wonderful achievements, including a Higher at Classical Studies with not only an A, but a top band A (over 87%), a number with at least five Higher passes, several with 5 As, and many who have secured their university places.

This year too, there are lots of our tutees who are transferring from primary school to either secondary school or independent school, and we wish them all the very best of good fortune at a period in their lives which is both exciting and challenging.


Summer 2017


As schools close for summer break and families prepare to go on holiday, Step Ahead continues as normal.  Some of our best work will be done, as usual, over the next couple of months when tutees are refreshed and preparing for their next academic year.

It has been a mixed spell of good and not so good news recently.  The latter concerned the death of a close friend of our Director and loyal supporter of ours - Peter Thorpe. George and Jennifer attended a poignant and highly emotional funeral for the Grandfather of one of our current tutees. Just one example of the regard in which Peter was held was the presence of the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland, the former whom Peter trained many years ago.

It is hugely disappointing to learn that yet again attainment in schools has fallen.  More than half of last year's school-leavers in Scotland did not achieve a key maths qualification. Over 56% of leavers failed to get a pass at National 5 level or above. Step Ahead's success rate remains at around 97% !  The Scottish Government continues to claim that their priority is education, and that they stand or fall with their reforms.  We shall see!

We are delighted to report that Falkland Cricket Club, whom we are sponsoring again this year, has won the Scottish rounds of the UK National Village Cup, and, for the first time in their history, has played a tie against an English village in Falkland.  Our Director and his wife were invited to enjoy a splendid afternoon during which Falkland defeated their Scarborough opponents by eight wickets to progress to the Last 16 where they will meet the current holders of the competition, which was won at Lords last September.

Recently we have been very gratified to have had new tutees from families who started with us two decades ago.  It was lovely to see the daughter of one of our first clients, the niece of another, and the grand-daughter of yet another - all bringing back very happy memories!

Fingers crossed for some sunny weather for you all - enjoy!



May/June 2017


Exciting developments are happening for Step Ahead at the same time as we have a large number of candidates taking their SQA National examinations.

As indicated below, our Director has announced that we are again going to sponsor Falkland Cricket Club. Last year, we "opened the batting" as it were with a tie-up with Falkland, and this year Step Ahead is sponsoring the playing kit of all the juniors aged from 5 years upto 16 years.  George attended a training evening at the Club where he did a presentation and spoke to members, parents and staff.

The Club's hard-working, dedicated and inspirational President, Robbie Nellies, stated that he and his staff were thrilled to link up with Step Ahead and felt that there is great similarity in the individual care and attention given to youngsters being coached in both our respective academic and sporting avenues.



Easter-time 2017


This has been, and is, an exciting period for tutees and tutors alike.

Preparations are in full swing for the National examinations which start in early May, with tutors reporting hard work by, and a state of readiness for, most tutees.

Special mention to Rachel C, Albeer M, Jennah Q, Chloe P, Ryan D,  Dominic M, Peter B, Karen T, Elena S, Rhiannon C, and Craig S.

Tutors reported, for the sixth successive year, excellent work done at Cameron House Centre in Edinburgh - where outstanding results are again expected.

With one term left before many start at high or independent schools, we are entering an important period. The rigour and continuity that we so often talk about has come to the fore and many of our youngsters are more than ready for their next step.

Amongst those who have been mentioned by tutors are Alastair S, Douglas S, Jack Mc, Nathan V, Christopher P, Emily M, Ava W, Eva W.

New tutors are always welcome and help refresh us all.  Jannet R,  Neil G, Stefan T, Hilary C, Alastair N, Marlene C and Andrew M have been registered.

Our Director has been invited to visit and spend time at Dollar Academy later in April and is looking forward to seeing some ex-tutees.  He enjoyed his visit to the Scottish Parliament and reported that he was quizzed heavily about concerns being expressed in current standards of Scottish education.

For the second successive year, Step Ahead is sponsoring a very innovative and well-run organisation, Falkland Cricket Club.  For 2017 we are the kit sponsors for the junior section, aged 5 -16 year old boys and girls, under the auspices of Club President, Robert Nellies.  More to follow.....



A brilliant start to 2017


Now over 20 years old, Step Ahead is celebrating as again this year, tutees, helped by their tutors, have achieved outstanding results in gaining places in some of Scotland's leading independent schools.

Our percentage success remains at around 97% and again we are able to report that nearly all our candidates have been offered places in schools such as George Heriot's, Dollar Academy, Stewarts-Melville.

Asked for the secret to such consistent results annually, our Director mentioned that parents have come to realise not to leave preparation to too late in a calendar year, but to get started much earlier, by Easter or certainly by the summer.  He also opined that continuity and rigour were important, especially as the potential of many able children was not being realised.

Our Director has been further honoured by being invited to attend the Scottish Parliament next month when he will talk about the current situation in education.



Merry Christmas 2016 and a Happy New Year


As Step Ahead approaches its 20th anniversary, we wish all our clients, families, tutors and friends the very best wishes for an enjoyable festive period.

Tutees and tutors alike have worked hard, which will bring rewards in the new year, and, in the meantime, we hope that you will enjoy the break (even though a number will still be continuing to prepare for important exams).

Our Director, George, has been overwhelmed by the congratulations and expressions of delight that he has received from clients, ex-clients and tutors, as well as from the wider community, as a result of him becoming a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  He and his guests experienced a wonderful occasion at Buckingham Palace and felt humbled and proud to be in the company of outstanding recipients.

Tutoring has become a 'hot topic', particularly as many perceive, and statistics show, that school education is failing many youngsters.  George has featured in recent interviews and articles in "The Sunday Times" and the "Daily Mail" and whilst supporting gifted and hard-working teachers (Step Ahead tutors being the perfect example), he is aware that most parents are anxious to see their children achieving a higher level in the basics - reading, writing, counting and spelling.



Autumn/Winter 2016


Tutors report to our Director on a regular basis and again this autumn excellent progress has been made across the board in preparation for prelims and entrance examinations. From long-serving tutors to relatively new ones, indications are that once again most tutees are on target for outstanding results.

Our Director has always encouraged young teachers and has helped them develop in their careers, and over the past couple of months, he has been recruiting some new blood in to Step Ahead.

From a personal point of view, George's visit to Buckingham Palace was always going to be very special.  Accompanied by his wife Jennifer and son Malcolm, George chose to invite an ex-pupil (from the 1970s) as his other guest.  Sam Carter (nee Cole) was honoured to represent the thousands of youngsters with whom George has worked over the past five decades. George chose Sam as he believes that she is the embodiment, the tangible quality, of what he has striven to produce in those with whom he has worked :  happy, successful, fulfilled in life, selfless, a tower of strength for family, friends and local community.  In particular, Sam has coped admirably, with helping one of her sons recover from leukemia, and has given nearly two decades of voluntary work in sport to local youngsters in the South of England.



Session 2016 - 2017


Our new session has started with a bang!

In this our 20th year, examinations results have even excelled outstanding ones from the past!

We have heard from a number of parents, and from tutees themselves who are thrilled to be going to university, others with top grades which will allow them to go on to more advanced work, and many whose confidence has soared as a result of how their tutors have brought them on.

Two remarkable 'stories' have been recorded :

the first where a youngster came to us in February, having failed his Higher Chemistry prelim, with a score in the mid-20%s.  Not only did our tutor help him to get a pass, not in itself unusual, but the lad got an A!!!!

the second, where a youngster had not done as well as expected in his Maths exam and where his school was simply refusing to allow him to move up to the next level, and hence affect his chances of a university place, but where through our advice and support, the parents adopted a strategy which persuaded the school to re-think and agree that the pupil was worthy of the opportunity!!!



August 2016


Early indications show that our tutees have excelled in their National examinations.  Many have been in contact already and early examples of their comments include :


"  'A' Grades in Higher English and Business Management, B in Maths and French - great results - and we are very grateful for the support of yourself and your two tutors throughout the year. "


"  We would love to have your tutor back for Advanced Higher English for his continued support in tutoring.  "


"  It has been a real journey involving our family, you and Step Ahead tutors who have done a fantastic job, resulting in Higher results far better than we could have hoped and in both our youngsters getting places in universities. 

You are a real inspiration, and thoroughly deserve your award. We can never thank you enough. "


"  The boys got on famously with their tutor - we're really happy with everything.

Can I say how inspired the boys were by meeting you too - you saw their reticence when we came along, and by the time they got in the car to come home, they were brimming with enthusiasm, so you, George, have a magic touch. "



June/July 2016


All involved with Step Ahead were thrilled to hear the news that our Director had been named in the Queen's 90th Birthday Honours List with the award of MBE for services to education and young people.

This is now the 53rd successive year that George has worked with youngsters and adults- in some capacity or another, some paid, but much on a voluntary basis, ranging from schools, youth and boys' clubs, church groups, scouts, sports coaching, musical theatre, administrative posts, vulnerable young people at risk or homeless, counselling.

George himself was, and is, keen to thank tutees, parents and tutors, past and present, involved with Step Ahead, and also past educators and colleagues, with whom he has worked.

He has said that he has met many wonderful people through Step Ahead and also throughout the UK and in various foreign countries where he has worked or visited, and he feels that those have contributed much, have enriched his life, and have played their part in him receiving such an honour. 

Congratulations have been received from many quarters, including such as political leaders, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Lord Lieutenant, but for George the messages which have meant the most for him have come from men who are now in their late fifties but were coached in sports by George when they were still of primary school-age way back in the second half of the 1960s!



April/May 2016


Step Ahead has continued to add another batch of successful youngsters to our ever growing list of entrants to independent schools, both in Scotland and in England.

Equally teenagers in state primary and secondary schools throughout the East of Scotland have been benefiting from the experience and expertise of talented tutors.

More tutees than ever are being tutored through Skype or Facetime, which, of course, means that travel is unnecessary, with tutor and pupil working from home.

Once again this year, the City of Edinburgh Council education initiative with Step Ahead tutors in Cameron House Community Centre proved to be a huge success, and we await seeing the results in August, as well as those of many 4th, 5th and 6th Year pupils across the Region.



New Year : 2016


For the fifth successive year, STEP AHEAD has been chosen to provide tutors for The City of Edinburgh Council education initiative in Cameron House Community Centre, Prestonfield, on the south side of the city.

The centre has a huge and varied programme providing a wide range of activities for both adults and young people. The lively and forward-thinking Management Committee is always looking to be innovative and, in 2011 planned a completely unique project with specialist tuition prior to the 2012 academic examinations – in several school subjects - for some of its members – from both state and independent schools.

STEP AHEAD has again been selected to put the programme in place in 2016, and to carry out the group tutoring, whilst taking into account the individual needs of each participant. Experienced tutors are preparing and are again excited about providing the support to a programme which has helped youngsters produce outstanding results.


Independent School Entrance Tests are conducted from November - January, and once again our team of specialist tutors have prepared a number of candidates.  We can already report success for Amanda who did so well in the Entrance Test that she was invited back to sit Mary Erskine's Scholarship Exam, while Elinor and Emilie have both been offered places in the prestigious Withington Girls' School in Manchester.


Two of our very brightest children continue to amaze - newly-seven year old, Matthew, a voracious reader, is tackling maths work more normally associated with top primary, whilst 13-year old Rahid, scored 100% in his school maths and biology tests - the highest in his year;  and has been achieving very high marks with his tutor on 4th year past papers in both English and maths.

Thanks and goodbye to a popular tutor, Amrit, who is off to New Zealand.



Autumn 2015


This term has seen clients come to Step Ahead for tuition in the following areas: primary school work

independent school preparation/entrance exams

secondary and independent school subject work

National 4 and 5 Grade subjects

Intermediate Grade subjects

Higher Grade subjects

Advanced Higher Grade subjects

Under-graduate university work

Post-graduate university work

Standard Entrance Test prep for the Scottish Police Force

Vocational and professional tutoring for adults

Excellent progress is being made and Preliminary results are again very encouraging.



Session 2015-16


We have over 550 testimonials - available for prospective clients - in book form.

Many are similar to the one below, which was received recently.

"  Following our son's success in passing the entrance test for a leading independent school and being offered a place for this August, we are writing to thank you for all your help and expertise during the time you tutored him.

Our son was not being given the opportunity to reach his full potential at the local primary school and we were eager for him to join his older brothers in their private school. Your initial assessment and evaluation of his level of attainment was most helpful and informative and reinforced our decision.

Our son arrived at the entrance test in January not only well prepared academically, but full of confidence and he actually enjoyed the experience!  Clearly your passion and commitment to learning and/or ability to build confidence shines in your students.

We want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for everything that you have helped our son to achieve over the last fifteen months.
Your tutoring sessions have certainly unlocked his full potential and we are sure his tie with you has been invaluable in preparing him for this next chapter of his educational journey.

We would not hesitate to recommend your services to others who are looking to help their children prepare for private school entry examinations and / or those who wish to maximise their child’s confidence and potential. "


On our Facebook pages, we have listed just some of the SQA National examination results achieved this year by those tutees who have contacted us.



May/June 2015




The number of children and adults being tutored via Skype or Facetime is increasing. People from London, Surrey, Herts, Bucks, and as far away as Singapore and Hong Kong are benefiting from our services.  Whilst different from actual face-to-face, internet tutoring is very focused and individual, and it has been shown to produce outstanding results.

We keep getting news of more places having been offered by independent schools to our tutees, this year surpassing any of our previous eighteen years.

The National examinations in Scotland are almost over already, and tutors are reporting that indications from many of our students are positive.



Easter-time 2015


Yet more places have been offered by independent schools to our tutees, following on from those listed further below.

Pride of place must go to Stefan and Iona, tutored by Maureen Brogan, who have been offered scholarships at George Heriot's.  Also going there will be Rory C, Rory B and Jess, while Josie and :Rory Mc have been offered places at George Watson's. Harrison joins a long list of successful candidates for Dollar Academy and Robbie for Stewarts-Melville.

Following the Easter holidays, study leave and the National examinations will be upon us, and tutors are reporting on excellent progress by many youngsters. For the past eighteen years, results gained by many Step Ahead tutees have been outstanding, and there is no reason to suppose that we shall not be congratulating another batch come August.  Best wishes to all concerned!

It has been wonderful to have heard from and indeed to have seen some ex-tutees in recent weeks and months, and to hear how they are faring in further or higher education, or in the work-place. More on our Facebook..



Early 2015


Lots of exciting news has emerged in the early weeks of a new year.

This time of year sees Higher Prelims to the fore, and indications are that our tutees have come out with very encouraging results, with tutors very optimistic in most cases that many Grade As will be achieved in the May exams.

Independent School Entrance Tests are conducted from November - January, and we are already hearing about tutees having been offered places for August.  Ella (from Surrey) and Archie (from Edinburgh) have already been offered places at George Heriot's, while Dollar Academy invited Matthew (from Fife),  Matthew (from Perthshire),  and Rosie and Ian (from Central).   Matthew (from Edinburgh) will be going to Stewarts-Melville, with Callum (from Midlothian) to George Watson's.


December 2014


For the fourth successive year, STEP AHEAD has been chosen to provide tutors for The City of Edinburgh Council education initiative in Cameron House Community Centre, Prestonfield, on the south side of the city.

The centre has a huge and varied programme providing a wide range of activities for both adults and young people. The lively and forward-thinking Management Committee is always looking to be innovative and, in 2011 planned a completely unique project with specialist tuition prior to the 2012 academic examinations – in several school subjects - for some of its members – from both state and independent schools.

STEP AHEAD has again been selected to put the programme in place in the coming year, and to carry out the group tutoring, whilst taking into account the individual needs of each participant. Experienced tutors are preparing and are again excited about providing the support to a programme which has helped youngsters produce outstanding results.



Autumn 2014

During the past couple of months, we have met some very able and interesting youngsters.  Whilst some are local, others live in cities and rural locations not only in Scotland but from far as well as near.

The parents of Ella from Surrey, Elizabeth from Freuchie, Isobel from Rosewell, Sophie from Charleston, Conor from London, Iona from Eskbank, Matthew from Dalgety Bay, and Emily from Fairmilehead all have the same goal for their children - to see their potential realised, and that is the challenge that STEP AHEAD tutors are willing to meet head-on every day.


Adventure Ben


  Adventure Ben

Girls and boys are welcome to come along and join Adventure Ben and friends at Blossom Tree Children's Nursery - Edinburgh on Saturday 27th September where you can enjoy a FREE trial class.


9am 18 months to 30 months
10am 9 months to 18 months
11am 2.5 years to 4 years

All classes last approximately 40 minutes.

PLEASE EMAIL or message us on Facebook for more information and to book your child's space today!


N.B Classes will run operate on a weekly basis thereafter

Adventure Ben - Every day an adventure!


Fifty Years On

On Friday 29th August 2014, we celebrated with George as it was on that evening exactly five decades ago that he first started working with youngsters.

Since then during each of the past fifty years George has been involved with young people whether in a paid capacity or on a voluntary basis :  in education - as teacher, headmaster, tutor, instructor;  through sports groups - as a coach, leader, administrator, organiser;  with youth organisations, community groups, churches.


Welcome or Welcome Back


This session, 2014-15, our 19th, promises to be a memorable one for pupils and tutors alike.  With changes coming fast and furious in schools and in education in genera,l and with the country making a significant decision in September, STEP AHEAD intends to be at the forefront of any developments.

As can be seen on the right-hand side of each page of our web-site, we are delighted to welcome ADVENTURE BEN, a new innovation for young children, and one that we would encourage parents of babies - five year olds to consider.


Queen's Baton Relay


Our Director receiving the Baton :


School Summer Holidays


Wishing all our tutees, families and tutors a very enjoyable holiday period as we await examination results in August.

Should you require our services or have any queries in the first three weeks of July, we suggest that you email us on


Home Schooling or Home Education


"Every child has the right to an education and it is the duty of the parents of every school age child to provide that education, either by sending the child to school or by some other means."

Home Education Document, Scottish Government, Edinburgh 2007


We have been seeing a considerable uplift in the number of parents keen to home-school.

STEP AHEAD helps parents to ensure an appropriate philosophy or ethos, allowing them to show commitment, enthusiasm, and recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations, whilst providing the opportunity for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences.

STEP AHEAD provides dedicated and experienced tutors who can support parents and/or offer specialist advice and/or tuition, when necessary.


Congratulations, George


Our Director has been selected to be a Batonbearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Relay for his services to young people in sport.


In August, George will have worked with youngsters in every one of the past 50 years - in itself a memorable achievement.


National Examinations


The National Examinations, including, for the first time, the new National 4 and 5, are upon us - earlier this year than ever!

Tutors have reported and are reporting that excellent preparations have taken place, especially by those who gave themselves adequate tutorial time, rather than last-minute intervention.

However, STEP AHEAD is providing Easter holiday classes for committed or anxious youngsters - in a range of subjects - at National, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher levels.


We send all candidates the very best wishes and trust that they will get the results they deserve.


Those parents, who wish their children to be successful in the ever more competitive independent school entrance exams later in the year or early next year, have already shown perspicacity by embarking them on the 'right road' by making use of our dedicated and highly successful team and Step Ahead approach (see testimonial from David Campbell, below).


Yet another Scholarship Award for a Step Ahead tutee


Loretto School considers one of our tutees to be worthy of an Award and we are delighted that once again we have helped in being involved in determining the future of a young person.


Another Scholarship for a Step Ahead tutee


Our third Scholarship success has been achieved this year as Stewarts-Melville College has offered a scholarship to one of our tutees.  This follows on from similar awards at Merchiston Castle and Loretto Schools in the past.



Early 2014


It is already looking like a very promising year, as reports indicate successes on a number of fronts :  Entrance examinations, Prelims and Police tests all seem to have gone well.

We have heard that several adult tutees have been successful in being accepted for police training, whilst a number of youngsters have been offered places in independent schools.

We are thrilled that one of our primary pupils top-scored - not only in the overall scores - but in each of the tests - and has been encouraged to sit the Scholarship exam - in one of Scotland's leading schools.  Indeed the same youngster has also sat a Scholarship examination in a further prestigious East of Scotland school.  We await his results with great anticipation, as we do the outcomes for other candidates. 

We regularly receive testimonials from many tutees or their parents, and we appreciate each and every one :  over 500 are in book form now!

But we do not usually receive anything as comprehensive as the one which we recently were sent, and which we post below in its entirety.  If a prospective parent would like to learn more from the writer of the following, please contact us for his details, as he would be pleased to share his experiences of STEP AHEAD :


From: David Campbell

Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2014 4:58 PM

Having recently received notification that our son has gained entry to a leading Edinburgh independent school, I thought it important to express our gratitude for the work of Ross's tutor, Trevor Mendham, in assisting him over the past year, in conjunction with the oversight and confidence-building provided by George, the Director of Step Ahead..


Ours is probably a fairly typical story in that we tested the water on an Entrance Test in to P5 for our son who was attaining very good achievements in all aspects of schoolwork at his local state school but whom we wanted to offer the opportunities that can be given through one of Edinburgh's top private schools. We were made well aware on him sitting the Entrance Test that there were no placements available for P5 but knowing that our son lacked a little in confidence we felt this was a good opportunity to assess his abilities and perhaps by providing a 'dry run' allow him to get over the nerves associated with the Entrance Test in preparation for the following year P6 intake when there were placements available through the intake of a new class.


What we had not been prepared for was just how nervous he was on the day and the effect this had on his performance in the Entrance Test. This together with areas of the Test which were not covered in state school resulted in him not achieving a high enough score in all the papers to allow him to be considered at that time.


After much debate and research we decided that we wanted to improve Ross's prospects through using a tutor to not only assist in the identified areas of education that were not covered in state school but, more importantly, to generally raise his all round education and improve on his confidence in sitting such Entrance Tests.


We finally looked towards the services of Step Ahead - after some lengthy discussion with George and a referral from him to parents who had been in a similar position to ourselves with their children and whom Step Ahead had assisted in achieving their child's aims.


George appointed Trevor as a tutor for Ross, who, although an established tutor with older youngsters, had not worked regularly with a pupil of Ross's age, but was a tutor whom George felt - after assessing Ross - would be well suited to working with him.


What followed was a great deal of commitment from us as parents, in terms of the provision of weekly tutoring, a real bonding that developed between tutor and pupil, and staged re-assessments by George to check on progress throughout the following year.


This combination of factors was the basis of the plan agreed from the outset to meet our aims from the tutoring sessions. We could easily have just left things to closer to the following year's Entrance Test and concentrated on tutoring for passing the various papers but wanted to achieve more than this in terms of raising Ross's general educational standard to a point where the Entrance Test was easily achievable, whilst, as stated previously, building up his self confidence to assist in combating the nerves he had displayed the previous year.


The result was an outstanding success with Ross performing extremely well in the assessment (see results below) and being offered a placement for P6.


I strongly believe, as did George and Trevor, that Ross always had the abilities required to pass the assessment, however, the work and commitment provided through Step Ahead built on those abilities and provided the bedrock for a more able and confident young person and for this I cannot speak highly enough of the support provided by both Trevor and George. From the outset it felt very much as though Ross had a real team around him to help him in this venture and Step Ahead took a personal approach to the whole journey.


I cannot speak highly enough of the commitment and effort provided to help Ross over the past year and would highly recommend their services to any parents who find themselves in a similar position to ourselves.


Such is the belief we have in the help and assistance provided by Step Ahead that we are continuing with the tutoring for Ross and his younger brother which we feel will only but strengthen their self confidence and general all round academic ability.


Strangely one of the interruptions when I was writing the above testimonial was a phone call from the Deputy Head at the school of our choice - as I had called yesterday looking for some feedback on the Test results.

Rather than passing my request onto a P6 teacher the Deputy Head had called personally as she wanted to express just how well Ross had performed :

 "  'Ross was top of the team building exercise across the whole assessment with 'real strength in leadership, enthusiasm and superb initiative.'

Verbal Reasoning:

'Scored 126 with the national average being 100. 'Well above the mark expected for a child of his age and a superb performance with fundamentally no weaknesses.'


'Scored 118 with the national average 100. Excellent performance with real strength shown in comprehension. Very few dropped marks and no weaknesses in any area. One or two mistakes in grammar and spelling but very minor in nature.'


'Scored 115 with the national average 100. Excellent performance with a real strength in his number work. Some minor areas for improvement in geometry based questions but these were common and to be expected.'

Overall :  'a delightful young man who scored at the very highest end of the assessment process for the P6 intake and a pupil we are very much looking forward to joining our school family.'  "

Says it all really!

Kind regards,

David, Corinne, Ross and Rory


Autumn 2013


Now well in to our 17th year and "Not only keeping up, but getting a STEP AHEAD" is as relevant now as it was back in 1997.

Something I came across recently is equally as pertinent :

Good better best,

I should never rest

Until my good is better

And my better best.

With some of our original tutees now in to their late twenties, even early thirties, married and with children of their own, it has been a good time to reflect and, in some cases, check up on how our tutoring impacted on many lives.  We have been gratified at just how positive the feedback has been with many responses commenting on either/both raising of self-esteem and on our insistence on high standards/ "better best".



Summer 2013

In to a quieter period of our year as all the exams and entrance tests are over, we have been considering with some of our tutors aspects of advertising and of publicising our services to a greater audience.  Several initiatives are now underway, including the development of our Facebook by a sub-group and a more local presence in specific local communities by an appointed tutor.  More details - in due course.

In the meantime, STEP AHEAD wishes all our friends, clients and tutors a very enjoyable summer and holiday period.


Storywriting Success

13 year old AMY POPE, one of our finest ever English tutees has again achieved an outstanding success, this time in the Glasgow Herald's Children's Storywriting Competition.

Open to children between the ages of five and 17, the competition was run in partnership with Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire and The Scottish Book Trust, and had some claim to be the most rewarding short story competition for children ever held in Scotland.

The prizes, however, were not the reason for setting up this competition. The Herald and its partners recognised the importance of storytelling for children of all ages, not only in terms of boosting literacy, but even more importantly, for inspiring confidence and creativity.

To spark children's imaginations, this competition was divided into three categories: writers aged 5-8 (100-500 words), 9-12 (500-800 words) and 13-17 (up to 1000 words).

There were three story titles to choose from – The Holiday Secret, Strangers in Town and New Beginnings – and the winning entries were decided by a panel of five, comprising children's writers, illustrators, critics and book specialists, including Elizabeth Wein, author of popular historical fiction for young adults; David Roberts, whose superbly atmospheric illustrations have appeared in books by writers as different as Julia Donaldson and Sylvia Plath; and myself, The Herald's Literary Editor.

Amy's essay - printed in full under "George's Diary" - was considered the best written by a 13 year old and was one of the three selected in the senior 13-17 age category.



March/April 2013

Easter is early this year - in March - while the National examinations commence before the end of Aprill, so many of our S4-S6 pupils are hard at work - both with tutors and through their individual study plans.

We are always delighted to report achievements of our tutees and recently several youngsters and adults have excelled.  Two more adults have gained places in the Police Service, three teenagers have been offered unconditional university places, while Primary pupil Dominic Millar has won the Edinburgh Schools' Burns competition singing "Ae Fond Kiss" and will represent the capital in the National Finals.


Early Spring 2013

Exciting news early in the year with many youngsters, having done prelims, now well on track for further top results in Standard, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher national examinations - which start earlier than ever this year.

In addition to this, huge congratulations are due to tutees and their tutors from Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife, Forth Valley, and even further afield in Glasgow, Perthshire and even on-line - for yet again outstanding results in obtaining an ever increasing number of independent school places in schools such as George Heriots, Dollar Academy, The Edinburgh Academy, Stewarts-Melville, St George's, Mary Erskine, George Watsons, St Leonards, Loretto and Marlborough College. 

This month we have helped two children gain acceptance for a really exciting adventure in a British school in Malaysia.

We have tutees who have been offered scholarships, as well as full and part bursaries.

Three adults who have been tutored over the past few months have successfully passed their Police Entrance Tests.


Christmas 2012 and New Year 2013

We wish all tutees, tutors, families and supporters of STEP AHEAD the very best wishes for a happy and enjoyable Christmas and successful New Year !

Have you been following us through "George's Diary" in 2012 ?   If not, why not start now with a 2012 catch-up - and keep reading when the Diary resumes in the New Year after a break !


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Special mention for :  Dominic Millar (Edinburgh);  Sian Thomson (Crossford);  Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay); and Glen Williamson (Airth).



October 2012


Halfway through the long August - December term, reports indicate that real progress is being made, and so now that it is holiday time we trust that our pupils will get a break from school but will also maximise their tutoring opportunities and take advantage of seeing their tutors during the day-time.


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

The following have produced excellent work since June :

Michael Marr (Dunfermline);  Hannah Shedden (Oakley);  Lauren Dickson (Dalgety Bay);  Joe Bery (Glenrothes);  Brodie Hutton (Kirkcaldy);  Alasdair Munro (Kinnesswood);  Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline);  Alisha Qurban (Falkirk);  Emilia Lauder (Edinburgh); and James Collyer (Dunfermline).


New tutors

Angela Allan (Primary);  Kim Allan (Biology, Chemistry and Science);  Brian Kyle (History);  Sue Moore (Biology, English and Primary);  Clare O'Grady (Primary);  and Rosemarie Peebles (French, Maths and Primary). 



Session 2012-13


Welcome back to our regular readers and a welcome to people new to our web-site!

We trust that you have had an enjoyable summer break - and have been stimulated by the success of The Olympics.

Talking of success  - congratulations to all our tutees and their tutors on yet further outstanding examination results : for the 16th successive year, lots of excellent passes, more 1s and As, 100% UKCAT passes, more university places gained, as well as entry in to independent schools - and by adults, more acceptances earned for police training. 

Thank you to all the parents who have taken the time and made the effort to write to record the contribution made by our top tutors!


July 2012

They say that it is summer.  Is it, really?

Rather than wishing you all a relaxing and enjoyable holiday, Step Ahead wishes all clients, tutors and families some sunshine !!



" Not Only Keeping Up, But Getting a Step Ahead "


Our motto is as true today as it was over 15 years ago !

We not only help our clients to be right up there and to be ahead of the field, if at all possible, but to go on to maintain, if not advance, their progress.  We believe that what we put in place, along with the rigour and insistence on high standards, ensures a promising present and successful future.  So it was very gratifying recently to have this endorsed when we received a letter from parents whose two boys had gone through our system :

"  Sorry it's taken so long to write this letter. Weeks turn into months and before you know it years have past by.

Ryan and Jack are thriving at Dollar Academy. They have been there for three years now and have really settled into the groove. The two boys work hard at their studies with lots of homework and endless exams. They came to realise that in order to succeed in life they need to put the work in.

They participate in numerous sports including rugby where the two of them play in the A team, football swimming, cricket and athletics. To fill in any spare time left after all the above they have now taken up the pipes which they have been playing over the past year.

All of the above is attributed to your hard work and patience which you gave to the boys in abundance for well over a year. You even detected Jack’s slight hearing problem which was rectified with an operation. He had his adenoids removed and grommets inserted in his ears. Jack is totally switched on now and has perfect hearing.

Due to your perseverance and dedication which was second to none the boys passed the entrance exam at Dollar in order to get into the school and have never looked back.

Ryan has now chosen his subjects for 3rd year which are Maths, English, Computing, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Accounts and German. It was suggested to Ryan about taking condensed sciences -all three, but we decided the above was more than enough.

Thank you once again ! "


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

As we approach the end of another school year, the following tutees are due a mention :

James Stewart (Mayfield);  Emilia Lauder (Edinburgh);  James Collyer (Dunfermline);  Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay);  Owen Leech (Dalgety Bay);  Cameron Ward (Strathdevon) and Dominic Millar (Edinburgh)



Happy Easter 2012


Easter is early this year - and it comes after extraordinary changes of weather from glorious sunshine to heavy snow - within a week!  Undaunted our tutors have been preparing tutees for the annual national exams - starting for the first time in April. 

We wish all candidates the very best as they begin their final preparations during the school holidays.


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

In recent weeks, congratulations are due to :   Owen Leech (Dalgety Bay);  Conor Davis (Edinburgh);  James Collyer Dunfermline);  Alasdair Munro (Kinnesswood);  Gabriella Greenwood (Cleland);  Dominic Millar (Edinburgh);  Lauren Dickson (Dalgety Bay);  Michael Marr (Dunfermline);  Ruairidh Chisholm (Dunfermline);  Beth Campbell (Crossgates);  Joe Bery (Glenrothes);   Sian Thomson (Crossford);  Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline);  Alisha and Adam Qurban (Falkirk).



A First for Edinburgh City and for Step Ahead


STEP AHEAD has been chosen to provide tutors for a new and exciting educational initiative.

Within the The City of Edinburgh Council provision is Cameron House Community Centre, a relatively new building which is situated in Prestonfield on the south side of the city.

The centre has a huge and varied programme providing a wide range of activities for both adults and young people. The lively and forward-thinking Management Committee is always looking to be innovative and, in a completely unique project is including specialist tuition prior to this year’s academic examinations – in several school subjects - for some of its members – from both state and independent school.

 STEP AHEAD has been selected to put the programme in place, and carry out the group tutoring, whilst taking into account the individual needs of each participant. Several experienced tutors are preparing and are excited about participating in something which may well offer a template for others in the future.

 We believe what we are providing is a first and we are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to very motivated and hard-working youngsters whom we hope will reap considerable benefits.


Forth Valley Step Ahead

Congratulations are most certainly in order to Gail Fotheringham and her team of tutors who are growing our services so well in further parts of Central Scotland. In year two, more and more parents and interested people are using our services and Gail's helpful, quiet but firm manner is having a significant influence.


Late 2011 / Early 2012


We wish all our clients, tutors and readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



Congratulations are due to 19 year old Joe Fitzsimmons who was one of only two people who passed the Police Entrance test - out of a recent batch of 40 candidates.


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Well done to :  Joe Bery (Glenrothes);  James Stewart (Dalkeith);  Lauren Dickson (Dalgety Bay);  Angus Mather (Cramond);  Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay);  Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline); Pieter Smith (Limekilns);  Jack Evans (Dalgety Bay) and Euan Ferguson (Dunblane). 


New tutors

We welcome :  Phil Deans (English, History and Modern Studies);  Brian May (Biology and Chemistry);  Trevor Mendham (English, History, Maths, Modern Studies and Physics). 


October 2011

Two leading publications for parents - "Nursery and School Guide" and "Skootkidz" - in Edinburgh and its environs - invited us to write for them, and below is some of what they published :

"  At what age can my child start extra tuition?

There is an old maxim : "Give me the child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.”
It is thus with tutoring – we are often asked about the optimum time to start – and the answer is the younger the better.

What are the benefits of starting young?

Some parents wait until their youngster is approaching prelims or specific examinations, often at the age of fifteen or sixteen, but that can be way too late, especially if a study plan and firmly established study habits have not been encouraged over the preceding years, especially whilst at the primary school stage.

It is all about good habit-forming, about providing a rigour, by putting in place a regular and clear pattern of work and study, an insistence on achieving and maintaining a level of work which will make all the difference when the time comes during secondary education for important exams.

That is what good one-to-one tutoring is all about. The starting-point is the selection of the most suitable tutor for each and every pupil – in order to ensure a close on-going tutor-pupil relationship.

This is followed by an appropriate and specifically prepared individual programme which will both help develop self-confidence and realise true potential through regular one-to-one sessions. A consistent and continuous approach to learning is backed up by work given for at home – often related to that being done at school.

What advantages do having a tutor bring?

In school a child works in a class or in a group within a class. Do you remember when you struggled with a subject in school or couldn’t understand something in a particular lesson or subject? Did you always put your hand up or tell the teacher? Invariably not – you kept silent – perhaps for fear of embarrassing yourself in front of your friends or because you were unsure of the teacher’s reaction, and you pretended that you understood, sometimes getting upset later at home. If this went on for some time you risked losing out on chunks of learning, often foundation stones which were needed to be understood later on in your school career, but not learned or understood properly, putting you at a subsequent disadvantage.

Anyone including adults, can benefit from help or advice on an individual basis – for example learning to cook or bake a particular dish in the kitchen or repair a faulty part in a car or improve a skill in playing a musical instrument, and so on.

Equally, one-to-one tutoring – which is done in your own home or, if preferred, in a tutor’s (not in a centre with others or through using computer programmes) - allows the tutee to work at her/his own level and at a speed suitable to the individual, unlike in a school class or group situation.

Does one-to-one tutoring help in getting a place in an independent school?

The best independent schools are in constant demand and can pick and choose whom they accept. There is usually strong competition for places, and at some age-groups there are a limited number of places on offer. Most expect youngsters to compete through entrance tests which can be quite stressful and demanding if a youngster is unprepared.

Few children attending state schools have experience of the range and depth of work involved and have rarely faced the issue of requiring to be concentrated for what can be several hours of exacting tests. The correct support and preparation from an experienced tutor can enhance one’s chances, whilst similarly boosting confidence and self-assuredness, qualities often required to be successful and to ‘find one’s feet’ in a new and exciting environment.

Readers can email relevant questions - regarding the above article to us at The Nursery and School Guide, and we shall forward them on to George at Step Ahead who has graciously agreed to supply answers which we shall then publish here in the 'Learning and Development' articles section."


"  At this time of year the independent schools in Edinburgh and its environs hold Open Days and many parents are considering making applications to one or more for their children.

We at Skootkidz ( have invited the Director of Step Ahead Tutoring and Educational Services, the leading teacher organisation offering one-to-one tuition in the homes of pupils or tutors in Edinburgh and East Central Scotland, to give us some TOP TIPS for gaining places in independent schools.

Step Ahead has seen over 200 of their tutees enter over 20 of Scotland’s leading independent schools, plus some in England and Ireland, including Eton College, Cheltenham Ladies College and Kilkenny College, as well as various international schools, so is in a significant and strong position to help and advise potential candidates.

In addition to ordinary places, Step Ahead has worked with high-flying youngsters towards being awarded Scholarships, whether for academic, sporting or all-round achievement.
Full details and impressive testimonials on
or phone George : 0796 702 4726.


1.Visit a variety of independent schools, not only on their Open Days, but also on a ‘normal’ school day.
It’s important to get a feel of the ethos of each school.

2. Take your child with you so that you can gauge her/his reaction and feelings.
After all, it is the child who is going to be the pupil.

3. Be sure to have made a list of pertinent questions to take with you and ensure that you find the opportunity to quiz senior staff.
You need to feel comfortable with all the arrangements, from academic studies, homework, school clubs to transport, lunches, uniform.

4. Ask for examples of the kind of work which will be in the Entrance Test so you can help your child prepare adequately.
There is likely to be different tests for English – cloze reading and/or comprehension and/or spelling;  for essay writing;  for mathematics;  and for verbal reasoning.

5. Don’t leave everything too late.  If you feel that your child needs to prepare for the Entrance Test - start now.
Those who train youngsters for such tests will avow that regular, consistent and planned sessions pay huge dividends.

6. If you haven’t already done so, put in place a study plan - ensuring that time is allocated for during one or two evenings per week and at weekends.
Most candidates should be focused and purposely engaged in preparing for the Entrance Test.

7. Prepare your child at home, particularly at weekends, to be able to sit and concentrate for extended lengths of time so they can sustain their effort throughout all parts of the Entrance Test.
Most children will never have had to concentrate – in school or out – for such a sustained period of time, ie for up to four consecutive tests.

8. Use suitable and appropriate age-related text books and exercises.
Experts can advise on levels and where the emphasis needs to be placed.

9. Occasionally test your child to monitor progress.  A week or two before the Entrance Test, go through your own ‘dummy run’.
This will allow you and your youngster to ‘get a feel’ for the experience that they will shortly undertake, and will pinpoint areas needing further attention.

10. Practise oral questions and answers with your child - as many of the schools will interview, in addition to the written tests.
Concentrate on such as your child’s interests, hobbies, likes, reasons for wanting a place, what they know about the school to which they are applying.

11. As many of the schools have a limited number of places, and as this often makes the Entrance Test highly competitive, consider using a tutor on a one-to-one basis.
A carefully selected tutor, knowledgeable in the preparation for Entrance Tests, can help make the difference required.

12. Be calm, cool, collected and prepared yourself – and help your youngster to be the same - on the day of the Entrance Test! "


"  Step Ahead Tuition have put together sample English, Maths and Non Verbal Reasoning questions at the level you can expect on school assessment papers. If you see that your child struggles with any of these questions you may like to seek some extra tuition before the assessment.

To view or print the sample test - go to "



Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Recent awards have gone to :  Chris Macdonald (Penicuik);  James Collyer (Dunfermline);  Peter Bery (Glenrothes);  Adam Campbell (Crossgates);  Annie Tilsley (Dunfermline);  Sarah Dewar (Carnock);  Dominic Millar (Edinburgh);  Alasdair Munro (Kinnesswood);  Alisha and Adam Qurban (Falkirk);  Alex Tilsley (Dunfermline). 


New tutors

A warm welcome to :      Amrit Dencer-Brown (Biology, Chemistry, English, French and German);  Patricia Burnett (Primary);  and Fraser Kerr (Computing Science, IT, Maths and Physics).


Late summer 2011

It's a time for fresh beginnings despite the difficult economic climate and as most pupils have now returned to school, Step Ahead is ready for the new influx of tutees, as well as the returnees, many with quite outstanding grades already in their lockers.

Our tutors, many long-established, are refreshed and have been joined by several new colleagues, all keen to build relationships, set targets and realise potential.

Readers are encouraged to give us a call!!


July 2011

Step Ahead wishes all clients, tutors and families an enjoyable and warm summer

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Upto the end of June,  these have been awarded to  Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline);  Lauren Dickson (Dalgety Bay);  Jack Evans (Dalgety Bay);  Haroon Ali (Edinburgh);  Pieter Smith (Limekilns);  Owen Leech (Dalgety Bay);  and Lewis Sheil (Dalgety Bay).  It seems that Dalgety Bay has ruled this term!


New tutors

Another three tutors joined us in June :  Dr Mazher Choman (Maths);  Jane Pathirana (English and Primary);  and Kamil Trzebiatowski (English, Maths and Primary).

Summer Term 2011

Over the past 14 years over 650 tutors have been registered with Step Ahead.  Many have come and gone, having made significant contributions, while it was not always possible to offer others appropriate tutoring in the subjects they offered.

A few dozen tutors are used very regularly, some of whom are relatively new, whilst others have been with us for many years.  Tutors such as Tony Aitken, John Kilday ,Brian Ogilvie, Jackie Robertson, Jonathan Shelley and Bill Wyse are amongst our team of 'long-servers', for which we thank them most warmly. 

Of course new blood is always welcome - and we are particularly fortunate in 2011 to have a brilliant mix of new and long-serving tutors, of young and older teachers, of experience and freshly-trained.  The quality of what Step Ahead offers comes from the enthusiasm, dedication and expertise of our outstanding tutors, and the selection of the most appropriate tutor for each and every client.

Whilst not wishing to be invidious in any way, and trusting that other equally-able tutors will not be offended, we want to highlight the efforts and results of one such tutor - Mairi McRobbie ( Jimenez).

We are so pleased that we recognised the raw talent in this Fife-born young lady when she first presented herself to us a number of years ago.  Not a qualified teacher at that time, but with hugely impressive qualifications and a warm and open personality, we felt sure that she would prove the exception to the rule (ie although not then a GTC -Registered teacher that she had the makings of a most suitable tutor).  In two spells (interrupted by her going and working abroad - and broadening her experiences), Mairi has illustrated exactly what Step Ahead is all about.  The testimonials and comments that we have received about her tutoring, her relationship with her clients and the results gained by her tutees are second to none, but it is the commitment to ensure that she services and sees her pupils on a most regular and consistent basis (a factor that some do not appreciate can make all the difference) that has made her one of our most valuable tutors.


Further great news :  firstly, tutors and parents are reporting that our tutees have entered examination halls with renewed confidence and a clarity of thought as they undertake the annual national examinations;  and secondly, our colleague and Franchisee, Gail, is very encouraged by the tutors and clients who have joined our Forth Valley branch during

2010 -11.


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

The latest batch feature : Haroon Ali (Edinburgh);  James Stewart (Dalkeith);  Alisha Qurban (Falkirk);  James Collyer (Dunfermline);  Alex Milne (Pitliver);  Julia Parish (Dunfermline) and Euan Ferguson (Dunblane).


April/Easter 2011

The range of subjects that we can offer continues to grow. Each year we are asked to provide tutoring in more and more diverse areas and it is a tribute to our tutors that they seem able to satisfy the demands.  For instance in recent weeks we have been asked, amongst others, for Ancient Greek, Farsi, Mechatronics, Anthology of Music, and The Cold War.

This is a particularly busy time for students and tutors as national exams at Standard, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher loom large, with GSE and A Level following a month or so later.



Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

These are awarded to those who produce outstanding and/or consistently high work and are cherished by the recipients. 

The latest batch are : Sinead Millar (Edinburgh);  Aaliah Iqbal (Glenrothes);  Peter Bery (Glenrothes);  Cameron Wishart (Dunfermline);  Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline);  Allan Macdonald (Penicuik);  Lewis Sheil (Dalgety Bay);  Dominic Millar (Edinburgh);  Alasdair Munro (Kinnesswood);  Adam Campbell (Carnock);  Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay);  Caine Dooley (Kincardine);  Joe Bery (Glenrothes);  Keir Gardiner (Leslie) and  Adam Qurban (Falkirk).


New tutors

We are delighted to welcome the following, fully registered tutors :  Patricia Dickson (Primary);     Joanna Mitchell (English, French and German);  Chris Page (Biology and Geography);  Angel Paramo (French and Spanish);  Scott Richardson (Chemistry); and  Fiona Sutton (French and Geography). 



February 2011

Many tutees have been undertaking Prelims for National examinations which are held in May, whilst growing numbers of younger pupils have been sitting entrance tests for various schools, for places usually offered for August.

We thank the tutors for their efforts and wish all our tutees the very best of success!


LATEST (Mid-Feb) - further outstanding results from both STEP AHEAD HQ and STEP AHEAD FORTH VALLEY are being reported. A greater number of our tutors than ever before have been involved this year and have helped tutees to gain places in a variety of independent schools throughout East and Central Scotland.  Both our Director at HQ and Gail at Forth Valley are thrilled with their tutors' efforts and results.  Our Director himself now has had well over 120 such successes, while Gail has added significantly this year to her haul since starting such work in recent years.


We trust that readers are following the weekly entries in to "George's Diary" - to which we welcome relevant responses.


Late 2010 / Early 2011

All at Step Ahead offer the very best of the season to our clients, tutors and readers of these pages.

Have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year !


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

The latest have been awarded to :  Adam Campbell (Carnock);  Euan Ferguson (Dunblane);  Joshua V-Anderson (Milnathort);  Karen Taljard (Falkirk);  Alex Milne (Pitliver);  Alisha Qurban (Falkirk);  Jack Evans (Dalgety Bay);  Awais Iqbal (Glenrothes);  James Collyer (Dunfermline)  and Julia Parish (Dunfermline).



New tutors

More tutors have registered :  Tricia Davenport (English and Primary);  David Lumsden (Graph Comm);  Kathleen Mair (French and German);  Deborah Natanson (Classical Studies, French, Greek, Latin and Philosophy);  Carole Pringle (Maths and Physics);  and Graham Sanderson (CDT, Graph Comm, Product Design and Tech Studies). 


Early Winter 2010

Winter has come early - brr !      Nevertheless, positive updates below, as in our latest Newsletter:

Exam Prep

For those youngsters preparing for, sitting and/or getting results for Prelims, we are ready to step in to help – and this is the ideal time!  Tutees who have come to us over the past 14 years have found that their results have invariably improved, some (as reflected in the volumes of testimonials) quite dramatically.  So, whether for weekly or occasional help, our tutors can make the difference - NOW.


Younger Tutees

However, it is not just at secondary and exam levels that our tutors can have a positive effect.  We have hugely talented teachers who work with all primary-aged children – some approaching the build-up towards going to secondary school (where getting in to the more motivated sets is crucial) or preparing for an entrance exam to an independent school (where competition is keener than ever).  As many schools struggle to ensure that the basics of literacy, numeracy and oracy are adequately covered, parents are finding that their children require the consistent and regular rigour that our tutoring puts in place. Study plans are rarely formed for individuals in schools, but we place great store on these, just as we do in building self-esteem and confidence.



We are always looking to enhance the service, and one feature which has become one of our major unique selling points is the care and thought given to our assessment process and the ultimate selection of the most suitable tutor for each client.  We have refined this process – and now involve a specialist subject tutor in assessments at higher levels.  Such has been the success of this development that few clients have found it necessary to request a change of tutor – and have benefited with outstanding examination grades.

STEP AHEAD means Business

Is a more recent development where companies, small and large, as well as individuals themselves, have been benefiting from our dedicated tutor base. We have had successes in helping people gain places in such as the police forces, fire service, teaching, armed services, as well as improving their skills in areas as diverse as reading, computing, foreign languages.



Despite the economic situation, STEP AHEAD continues to grow – both in terms of tutor numbers, skills and expertise and also in geographical terms.  A Franchise has been established in Central Scotland, and we are now in discussions with potential franchisees elsewhere.  It is our ultimate intention to be able to offer tutoring throughout the country.



Our detailed web-site is full of information and George updates his Diary on a weekly basis.  Step Ahead now also features on Facebook – please join us in order to stay in touch with us.  We will be sharing all our news, discussing points of views, giving homework tips and answers, running competitions etc - just log on and search for our pupils and parents alike.


Latest news

We obtained tickets – on various evenings – for a number of our youngsters, some with parents attending, to go to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre for the Triple Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “The Secret Garden” – a story which has given much pleasure to countless generations of youngsters. We have TWO (heavily discounted) spare tickets for sale – for the use of adult(s) and/or child(ren) for SATURDAY 11th December at 7.30pm in the Grand Circle.  Anyone interested should contact us asap.



If we can assist you in any way – or you need a query answered, please do not hesitate to contact us – by phone (01383 624599) or email (



Autumn 2010


We have been very pleased to have had considerable positive comment from a wide range of people about our web-site.  It is good to know that potential and existing clients and friends of STEP AHEAD are so impressed with the content contained therein.

Any suggestions as to improvements or additions will be considered carefully.

We trust that readers are keeping up with our slightly tongue-in-cheek weekly Diary entries!



Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

This session so far, these have been awarded to :  Peter Bery (Kirkcaldy);  Daniel Pritchard (Aberdour);  Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline);  Allan Macdonald (Penicuik);  Cameron Wishart (Dunfermline);  Max Yeoman (Crombie Point);  Lewis Sheil (Dalgety Bay);  Caine Dooley (Kincardine);  Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay);  Joe Bery (Kirkcaldy);  Sophie Ross (Powmill);  Lilley Cuthbertson (Inverkeithing);  Adam Qurban (Falkirk);  Caitlin Findlay (Dunfermline).


New tutors

We have been delighted to register :  Max Aplin (Classical Studies, English and Greek);  Jen Cowper (English, Maths and Primary);  Jim Crichton (P.E.);  Debbie Curtis (Primary);   Maggie Fragassi (History, Maths and Modern Studies); Rachel Fawthrop (Classical Studies, Greek and Latin);  Graham Frew (Maths);  Amanda Krause (Primary);  Lesley Maul (Primary);  Nicola Munro (English and Primary);  Lee Niblo (Art, Biology, English and Primary);  Kathleen Nicholson (.IT. and Maths);  Anna Paterson (Chemistry);  Brittany Rank (English, Maths, Sciences, Spanish);  Luke Scott (Chemistry, Maths and Physics);  Judith Torrens (English, Geography, History and Primary);  Lora Ward (English, French, Music and Spanish);  and Elizabeth Welsh (English).


September 2010

As announced during the summer, Gail Fotheringham has launched Step Ahead Forth Valley, offering the company’s high standard of one-to-one tutoring services to families and individuals throughout Stirling and Clackmannanshire.

The move marks the start of the expansion of Step Ahead Tutoring, which has provided services in the East of Scotland, throughout Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians for 14 years.

Gail said: “I am really excited to be launching Step Ahead Forth Valley. Having worked for the company as a tutor for five years, I know I have the support of a fantastic team which shares my passion for education.

“Step Ahead Forth Valley will bring a hugely successful education ethos to the region, with a proud emphasis on the three R’s, focusing on the individual and nurturing a love of learning in youngsters.

“With individual, expert tuition, pupils can flourish academically, increase in confidence and really enjoy the journey of learning.”

Step Ahead Forth Valley will offer tutoring in a wide range of academic subjects from specialist tutors, as well as basic literacy and numeracy.

The company, which provides expertise in independent school entry, has also successfully supported adults with professional exams.

The launch of Step Ahead Forth Valley marks a successful first milestone for the company, which plans to ultimately expand throughout Scotland.

Step Ahead Director George Hawkins, who launched the company in 1997, is thrilled to have Gail on board.

He said:  “We are all delighted to welcome Gail as our first Franchisee.

“She has been involved with Step Ahead for several years during

which time she has been a highly successful tutor.  

“Her quiet and friendly but firm approach, married to her insistence on

the highest of standards, has seen her produce outstanding results

with a wide range of tutees.

“We are now looking forward to supporting Gail as she establishes our unique brand in another area of the country, and we are confident she will prove a great success.”

Step Ahead is continuing to seek passionate, professional like-minded individuals to take its brand and tutoring ethos across the country.

Gail is now looking forward to meeting families and individuals interested in finding out more about Step Ahead’s services.

Teachers interested in finding out about the rewards of one-to-one tutoring are also invited to get in touch.

Gail added: “For me, tutoring offers the best thing about teaching – helping your pupil to learn. The moment the light goes on in a child’s eyes when they know the answer is priceless.”


Summer 2010

More Outstanding Examination Results

For the fourteenth successive year, the results in the National examinations for STEP AHEAD tutees have got better and better !  Tutors are reporting more As and Bs at Higher level and 1s and 2s at Standard Grade.  Typical of the kind of communication we are receiving is this from Jenna :

"Just to thank you for providing English tutor Ian who assisted me in achieving a grade A in Higher English. Also, Maths tutor Robert who assisted me in achieving a grade B in Higher Maths.    Thanks again!


Expansion of Step Ahead :  our First Franchise

We are delighted to announce that our services will now been available in further areas of Scotland through our first Franchise.  Gail Fotheringham, an experienced and talented teacher and tutor will operate STEP AHEAD FORTH VALLEY which will cover an area west of our existing territory, taking in such as Falkirk, Dunblane, Bridge of Allan, Crieff , Auchterarder, Callander, Kilsyth.  For contact details, please go to "Step Ahead in your Area."


Important Contact Details for July

Any enquiries during July should be directed to Andrew on 0131 228 1144 (uptil 28th July) or Malcolm on 0131 441 3603 (from 12th July onwards) and NOT to George on 01383 624599.


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Congratulations are due to :  Beth Campbell (Carnock);   Adam Qurban (Falkirk);   Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay);   Marc Taljard (Larbert);   James Collyer (Dunfermline);  Jack Evans (Dalgety Bay) and  Ross Hamilton (Dunfermline)..


New tutors

In the past three weeks, three more teachers have registered with us as tutors :

Marian Laing (Primary and Holistic Therapies);   Catriona McLeod (English and Primary);  and  Kirsteen Scott (Geography, Modern Studies, Travel and Tourism).


June 2010

Disclosure Scotland


STEP AHEAD has been accepted as a Registered Body and Our Director as Lead Counter Signatory with Disclosure Scotland.

For people tutoring in this country, there is no legal requirement to have a Disclosure Certificate, although we at STEP AHEAD expect our tutors to have an Enhanced Disclosure.

Later this year the Scottish Government will introduce the PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) Scheme.

There are various types of Disclosure Services including the PVG Scheme Record which is a full record available to employers if the individual is joining the scheme for the first time. Under the PVG system, counter-signatories will still be required for tutors and STEP AHEAD will be able to provide this service.  A PVG Scheme Membership Statement is available to the self-employed and will state that a person is not barred. In relation to tutors, one will be able to check whether a person is a member of the PVG Scheme or not via a PVG Scheme Membership Statement.

In England it will be an offence to undertake regulated work where a person is not a member of the scheme whereas in Scotland, it will only be an offence where a person is barred.


April/May 2010

This year has seen STEP AHEAD working even more closely with several of the leading independent schools in East and Central Scotland.  In addition to matters relating to individual tutoring, we have been supplying teaching staff - from our considerable tutor bank - when the need arises.  Whether for illness cover, daily or weekly classes, or longer term, we have been able to offer highly suitable staff.

Not only do the schools benefit, but so do our tutors, as evidenced by the following remarks, recently received :

"Registering at Step Ahead was the beginning of a new phase in my career.  Within a few weeks I had a placement at one of Scotland’s leading independent schools, teaching Business Studies to senior students. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the support I have received from Step Ahead has been first class.

I look forward to continuing to work with Step Ahead to support students both in schools and through one to one tuition.  Teaching is such an interesting and rewarding career and the flexibility and variety offered by this way of working is really superb."


This is the time of year when large numbers of youngsters benefit greatly from weeks or months of one-to-one tuition - as they undertake the stressful national examination diet.

Tutors are, once again, reporting that they have high expectations for outstanding results, such has been the commitment and effort of many of their tutees.


Have you read "George's Diary" recently ?   Who could have believed that Volcanic Ash and Hung Parliaments would feature on STEP AHEAD pages !!


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

The latest batch of awards have gone to :   Peter Bery (Kirkcaldy);   Conor Philip (Dunfermline);   Adam Campbell (Carnock);   Liam Murray (Aberdour);   Karen Taljard (Larbert);   Rowan Mackie (Dunfermline);   Lewis Sheil (Dalgety May);   Euan Ferguson (Dunblane);  Amy Pope (Dalgety Bay) and  Alisha Qurban (Falkirk).


New tutors

We are pleased to welcome new tutors :

Victoria King (English and Maths);   Katherine Perlo (English, Music, Philosophy and Piano);  Anne Stuart (Primary and Lower Secondary);  and Montserrat Valdivieso (Biology, Chemistry and Spanish).




STEP AHEAD has announced a partnership with Tutors' Alliance Ltd, the organisation promoting professional tuition in the UK. 

More information about Tutors' Alliance can be found on their website where there is also a sample Tutor Check and an application form for membership.


More outstanding results for Step Ahead tutees

A record number of our pupils - aged 4 -14 years - have again this year been offered places in independent schools.  We are proud to celebrate their successes - into Dollar Academy, George Heriot's, George Watson's, Loretto, Merchiston Castle, St Leonard's, and Stewarts-Melville.


The need for tuition from an early age

In the light of yet more shocking statistics, and we do not apologise for featuring these regularly and currently in George's Diary, one of the country's leading educational experts has commented :  Primary school is completely vital.  If children don't do well there - they don't get to the point they really need to.  It's like wandering through life with heavy weights round your ankles.

Our country has failed 30,000 youngsters who have left primary schools in 2009 alone without even the basic maths skills.  It is simply because they were never taught properly."

Our findings - based on the past 13 years - bears out the above statement, as ever-increasing numbers of teenagers, and indeed young adults, come to us, struggling because of the lack of basic skills in the 3Rs.



Step Ahead is pleased to announce our link with The Sports Warehouse  based in Edinburgh.

The Sports Warehouse, a family run business, are specialist retailers of outdoor equipment, sports equipment and printing and embroidery and have been established for over 30 years.

You'll find everything you need for school and club sport activities and equipment.

Detailed catalogues can be got from their premises in Coburg Street or from Step Ahead.

January 2010

Our assessment process has been in place for a number of years with the intention of providing not only the best, but also the most appropriate, tutor for each and every client.

We have been working hard to continually develop the process, and as many of our older students have stated our “team-tag” approach (involving Director and subject specialist) has been proving highly successful.

Proof of this has been received – in written form – from delighted parents.  We are very gratified at such examples as follows :  “I cannot thank you enough”;   “Both my son and I found the assessment so very beneficial”;    “You gained her trust immediately”;   “You offered me support and guidance which I believe would benefit any parent, as well as assisting their child”;    “He was very enthused, I’ve never seen him so motivated”;   “When he got in the car, he stated that you were so encouraging that he felt more positive than he has ever felt before.”


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

The standard to attain this title continues to rise, and we are pleased to announce the following winners:  Jack Evans (Dalgety Bay);   Charlie Dineen (Saline);   Jason Woods (Dunfermline);   Lucy Thomson (Crossford);   Alice Stephenson (Limekilns);   Kyle Brewer (Edinburgh);   Marshall Cuthbertson (Dunfermline);   Max Yeoman (Crombie)   and Daniel Pritchard (Aberdour).


New tutors

A warm New Year welcome to new tutors :

Nick Attwood (History and P.E.);   Karen Bidgood (Biology, Primary and Science);   Geraldine Corrie (Primary);   Brian Donald (English);   and Eileen Greenshields (Chemistry and Physics).


December, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009 and a Happy New Year to all our clients, tutors, friends and readers of this site from us all at STEP AHEAD.


We are pleased to announce that our 2009 Special Award has been given - for hugely consistent work and effort - to Kincardine's CAINE DOOLEY.

Caine has demonstrated exactly what we are all about - and what can be achieved through dedication and commitment.

Special Award

As regular readers will know, we encourage tutors to nominate tutees for our "Pupil Of The Week" Awards.

As the year is rapidly coming to a close, STEP AHEAD is now proud to announce our list of contenders for our 2009 Special Pupil Award.

Amongst many youngsters who have "not only kept up, but have got a step ahead" (or indeed have got several steps ahead !), the following have demonstrated something special and consistent, over a lengthy period.

In alphabetical order :

Caine Dooley from Kincardine, 11years old:   significant feature - the maintenance of steady performances week in, week out;

Liam Murray from Aberdour, the youngest contender at 8 years old:   significant feature - increasing and excellent academic progress;

Samuel Pearson from South Queensferry, P7 pupil:   significant feature - considerable commitment and effort;

Matthew Pleass from Powmill, 11 years old:   significant feature - all-round achievement;

Amy Pope from Dalgety Bay, 10 years old:   gifted and outstanding contributions in English language and writing.

The outright winner will be announced before the end of this term.



Autumn, 2009


 It has been a particularly busy period this year since the summer.  Whilst new tutors and new pupils have been settling in, the Management Team in conjunction with our Management Consultant have appointed a Franchise Manager and have been preparing all the paperwork and planning in order to be ready for our first franchise. We have been pleased with the response from potential franchisees and are in discussions with several highly suitable professionals.

Prelims for National examinations are imminent and this is a time when we welcome many newcomers.  Equally the Independent Schools’ Entrance examinations, which are becoming more and more competitive, command a lot of tutors’ attention. Our Testimonial Books continue to grow – with many examples of outstanding results – and these are available for perusal, on request.  

In order to keep up to date with STEP AHEAD, please remember to read the weekly : "George's Diary.” 


Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Despite ever more competitive standards, the following tutees have excelled : Charlie Dineen (Saline);  Allan Macdonald (Penicuik);  Archie Duffin (Limekilns);  Conor Philip (Dunfermline);  Peter Berry (Kirkcaldy);  Liam Murray (Aberdour);  Lewis Sheil (Dalgety Bay);  Samuel Pearson (South Queensferry);  Amy Pope (Dalgety Bay);  Marc Taljard (Falkirk);  Caine Dooley (Kincardine);  Karen Taljard (Falkirk);  Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay);  Jonathan Wood (Dalgety Bay);  Caitlin Finlay (Dunfermline);  Matthew Pleass (Powmill);  Alex Featherstone (Oakley );  Rory Yeoman (Crombie);  Morgyn Smith (Musselburgh);  Ross Stewart (Limekilns). 


New tutors

Welcome is extended to our most recent tutors:  Annette Arthy (Primary);  Jackie Cohen (Maths);  Karine Greffin (French and Spanish);  Trevor Gilbert (Computing);  Shane Hart (English);  Paula Hutchison (Primary);  Fiona Jones (English and Primary);  John Maloney (English);  Gus Pritchard (Accounts, Business Studies, Economics, English, Primary);  Emma Rolland (Primary);  Margaret Struthers (French, German and Spanish);  Terri-Anne Watson (German, Primary and Spanish).


April - June 2009

STEP AHEAD to expand

Step Ahead is pleased to announce that, due to popular demand, we intend to expand our business throughout Scotland.

Over the next couple of months, this process will start as we look to appoint our first franchisee and launch our caring, professional services to the wider public.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a franchisee, call Andrew on 0131 228 1144 or mail us through our contact page.

Major successes throughout a wide spectrum - from children aged as young as 4 years to very mature adults - in schools, colleges, universities, businesses, companies and privately - have been achieved during this academic year. We offer our warmest congratulations to tutees and tutors alike. Following coverage in "Scotland on Sunday", we have recently been featured in "The Scotsman" - read the article here

This "News Section" is updated on average every two months, whilst readers who follow "George's Diary" know that they can read current news each week. We would encourage everyone to keep up to date through the "Diary"

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

STEP AHEAD are pleased to announce an even more varied list : Amy Pope (Dalgety Bay); Elise Drummond (Limekilns); Hugo Duffin (Limekilns); Robert King (Crook of Devon); Cameron Thomson (Rosyth); Matthew Pleass (Powmill); Daniel Pritchard (Aberdour); Caine Dooley (Kincardine); Cameron Gray (Dalgety Bay); Euan Drummond (Limekilns); Grant Macdonald (Dalgety Bay); Max Yeoman (Crombie); Rory Philip (Dunfermline).

New tutors

The following have been registered: Sylvia Campbell (Primary, French and German); Dorothy Cyster (Piano and Singing); Paula Hanika (Primary); Anna Howard (Music and Primary); Derek McMillan (R.E., Philosophy and Sociology); Gillian Matthews (Cello and Violin); Sarah Wauchop (English and Business Studies).

March, 2009

2009 has sprung

Already we are two months in to the year, and much has happened which will be fully reflected in our detailed email newsletter which will be sent to those from whom we have a current email address. If you want to read all of our news, including our outstanding successes in Independent School Entrance Exams, including Scholarships, and our part in a recent “Scotland On Sunday” article, please ensure that we have the necessary email address. Remember too that by now many tutors are very busy, so if you need a tutor to help prepare for National Exams, please do not wait.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

The latest batch have gone to : Jack Muldoon (Grangemouth); Samuel Pearson (South Queensferry); Cristiano Crolla (Edinburgh); Sam Pope (Dalgety Bay); Fraser Jackson (Dunfermline); Charlotte Longstaffe (Milnathort); Claire McDonald (Dalgety Bay); and Ethan Wood (North Queensferry).

New tutors

The following have been registered: John Broadfoot (Chemistry); Pauline Calder (French, German and Russian); Kathleen Murray (Biology, Psychology and Sociology); Jayanthi Sethunarayanan (Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics); and Victor Moncrieff (Biology, Chemistry, English, Maths and Physics).

Step Ahead step into the limelight

We have been enjoying some great press coverage lately as education rises up the political agenda once more. If you didn’t see it in the Scotland on Sunday, read the article again here

Independent Schooling

Our specialised team of tutors has produced an unprecedented set of results this year, with places gained in George Watson's, George Heriot's, Stewarts-Melville, The Edinburgh Academy, Fettes College, St Margaret's, Loretto School, Merchiston Castle, Dollar Academy, Strathallan and Beaconhurst School. The Rector of Dollar Academy stated that they had had the largest number of applications of all time this year. Both he and the Junior Head have stated that the standard this year was particularly high.

Despite the limited number of places on offer at Dollar for 2009, Step Ahead helped over twenty children to gain places, of whom sixteen were prepared by George himself. He has now had 54 successful candidates for Dollar alone, and a further 38 at many of the above mentioned schools.

Scholarships were offered by three schools, with Benjamin Kenderdine being especially praised by Merchiston Castle. Find out more about Independent school entry

Early Is Best

"Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man," the Jesuits used to say.

If you subscribe to the view that humans can be persuaded, conditioned or just trained from an early age to see the world in a certain way, then one can certainly understand the Jesuit philosophy. Certainly we find that by starting tutoring at a young age, we can inculcate a number of core values and a certain rigour which we find is never lost. Parents, and especially grandparents, ask us about timing for legacies which they intend for their loved ones, and we say that if they wish to invest in their education, we find that it is best done early rather than later. Some parents seem to think that they should keep their finance until close to teenage exam times, but by then it is often far too late, when the die is already cast. Incidentally, we are more than happy to discuss such matters with parents and grandparents. Find out more about the Step Ahead process

Merry Christmas, 2008, and a Happy New Year, 2009

STEP AHEAD wishes all our clients and tutors the very best for an enjoyable and happy festive period. As we end the year, we are delighted to report excellent prelim results, more independent school places gained, considerable progress made by many clients and much satisfaction expressed by a number of parents.

ORGANISE GETTING YOUR TUTOR FOR EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR – would be our top tip for you. With Higher prelims fast approaching, and with the May exams only four months or so off, there is no time like the present to get in touch with us !!


We put a great deal of store on our assessment process and on taking the utmost care in selecting the right tutor for each individual. So we were thrilled recently on receiving the following written testimonial which demonstrates the value of such a process:

Re: Assessment/support/guidance/ information and tutor for my daughter.

In relation to the above I can not thank you enough. On initially making contact with yourself, George, I believed you would assist me in finding a tutor for my daughter who is 14 years of age and was about to commence her Standard Grade prelims.

However during the initial meeting it became apparent, that as a parent I was at a loss in my position as a parent regarding Fife Education policies, whereas my daughter's confidence was decreasing due to an ongoing situation within her school.

You gained her trust immediately which enabled her to disclose some of the issues that I was not aware of. At this point you gave me advice and clarification of my rights as a parent in relation to the education department protocol.

I was astonished that as a parent I had not been informed of critical decision that had been made in relation to my daughter’s educational welfare, and how this would impact on her future targets within school.

Following the (assessment) meeting with you and the information you gave me, I approached the school armed with new knowledge and guidance on how to find a way to resolve the problem. At that point I found out that they in fact had not followed specific protocols in relation to my daughter's education.

After several meetings with teachers both I and my daughter feel that a way forward was found. This in turn has helped her with her confidence and her academic work.

During this turmoil you offered me support and guidance which I believe would benefit any parent as well as assisting their child/children.

Having spoken in depth to my daughter, you then chose for her an excellent tutor who has already helped her improve her academic ability and confidence.

I would encourage any parent to speak with yourself and arrange an assessment, not just for accessing tutors but for moral support as a parent in relation to any issues or concerns regarding education. I will stay in touch and keep you updated on her exam results. You deliver an excellent service which I personally cannot praise enough.

Thank you so much for all your support/ guidance and understanding.
Warmest regards Lucy Nov 2008

Lucy is one of a number of parents who would be happy to speak to prospective clients who are thinking of using our services, and in particular considering arranging for an assessment.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Congratulations go to: Luke Prentice (Saline); Amy Proud (Dalgety Bay); Elise Drummond (Limekilns); Ethan Wood (North Queensferry); Emer Harrison (Edinburgh); Euan Drummond (Limekilns); Fraser Jackson (Dunfermline); Ellie Walker (Rosyth); Grant MacDonald (Dalgety Bay); Charlie Dineen (Saline); Rebecca Williamson (Dunfermline); Declan Laing (Edinburgh); Ryan Muldoon (Grangemouth); and Michael Williamson (Dunfermline).

Special Mentions

Tutors have informed us that the following tutees are worthy of special recognition:
Callum Crawford, Mark Farquhar, Callum McKinnon Well done !!!!!

New tutors

In the latter part of 2008, we have registered: Christel Baudere (French); David Chambers (Primary); Michelle Cook (English, Maths and Primary); Charles Dusse (English and Modern Studies); Tom Gilmour (History and Modern Studies; Janet McEwan (Primary); Linnea Masson (Primary); Jacqueline Milne (Biology); Michael Milne (English); William Newell (Art and Design and French); and James Rose (English).

Equally we are delighted to welcome back two tutors who have done top work with us in the past : Helen Gavin (Primary) and Mairi McRobbie (Maths and Physics).

September, 2008

October half-term courses

October half-term courses are being run in our centres in Murrayfield, Edinburgh and Duloch, Dunfermline. For example, with prelims for 4th - 6th Year pupils and entrance tests for independent school candidates rapidly approaching, the October school holidays are ideal for revision and preparation sessions in small groups under the tuition of expert tutors. Parents are encouraged to make enquiries and book places as soon as possible. Easter revision courses are also planned.

Places for throughout the term can also be booked for our STEP AHEAD TOGETHER groups in Murrayfield and Duloch.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

A big well done this term to John Cuthbertson (Saline); Claire MacDonald (Dalgety Bay); Sam Pope (Dalgety Bay); Charlotte Longstaffe (Milnathort); Ryan Vohra (Leith); Grant MacDonald (Dalgety Bay); Ailbhe Harrison (Edinburgh); and Lauren Gemmell (Lochgelly).

New tutors

In recent weeks, the following tutors have been registered Maureen Burgess (Accounting, Administration and Business Management); Liz Duncan ( Maths); Miriam Hanks (Maths); Elspeth Henderson (Primary and ICT); Kath Kennett (Primary); Michelle Kersh (English, History, Maths, Languages and Primary); Mary Taylor (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Primary); and Barbara Timms (Economics).

Summer News, 2008

Two new "arms" now in place

Step Ahead means Business - which is the corporate "arm" of STEP AHEAD and STEP AHEAD TOGETHER - which offers individual tuition within small groups - are now functional and can be read about in their own sections by clicking on the navigation to the left.


Considerable emphasis is being placed on the hugely important area of literacy and we trust that readers are keeping updated on "George's Diary" on this web-site.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Congratulations: Cameron Laird (Limekilns); Kimberley Wemyss (Crossford); Ben Sneddon (Cairneyhill); Charlie Dineen (Saline); Michael Williamson (Dunfermline); Ishani Krishnan (Edinburgh); Cameron Farquhar (Limekilns); Ryan Muldoon (Grangemouth); Ameer Ali (Edinburgh); Amy Brown (Dunfermline); Anna Aitken (Dunfermline); Ryan Vohra (Edinburgh); Niall Piggot (Limekilns); Emma Doherty (Rosyth); Rebecca Williamson (Dunfermline) and Jack Muldoon (Grangemouth)

New tutors

In recent weeks, we have welcomed: Linda Duncan (Primary); Helen Lacey (Business Man., Accounts and Admin); Robert Milton (Maths and Physics); Laura Nelson (Primary, Art and Design, Biology) and Christine Sumstine (Primary and English).

April/May 2008

Exciting Developments in 2008

Much planning is underway as STEP AHEAD intends to develop in a number of directions throughout this year. A new "arm" - STEP AHEAD TOGETHER" - will shortly be introduced - with details appearing on this web-site after a number of meetings have been concluded involving our Management Team with key tutoring staff.

SQA National exams are very important to many of our clients and we believe that our tutors have prepared candidates well.

We wish all tutees the best in their endeavours.

We hope that readers of our site continue to enjoy George's entries in his "Diary" which keeps us up to date with weekly news.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Congratulations: Douglas Walker (Edinburgh); Sam Pope (Dalgety Bay); Ailish McKenna (Limekilns); Owen Prentice (Saline); Tom Wilson (Penicuik); Fraser Mutch (Crossford); Ross Philp (Dunfermline); Liam Jukes (Dalgety Bay); Luke Prentice (Saline); Grant McDonald (Dalgety Bay); Agnes Thomson (Musselburgh); Sam Hogg (Crossford); Jill McGregor (Linlithgow); Alistair Davis (Dalgety Bay); John Cuthbertson (Saline); Kieran Highway (East Craigs) and Pauline Graham (Livingston).

New tutors

Over the past few months we have welcomed: Val Bonser (Primary); Elizabeth Cochrane (Primary); Jennifer Farrar (English and Media); Gail Fotheringham (Primary); Scott Georgeson (Biology, Chemistry and Physics); James Hardie (English); Alana Kent (Primary); Julie McCormack (English and Geography); Diana Murdoch (English, French, German, History and Primary); Tania Ostolaza (Spanish); Dr Brett Patterson (Computing, IT, Maths and Physics);  Rachel Robertson (Geography and Primary); Victoria Ross (Maths and Primary); Gareth Surgey (Tech Studies); Janet Thomas (Biology, CDT, Chemistry, Graph Comm and Maths)  and Heather Young (English).

January/February 2008

Excellent results are again emerging of STEP AHEAD tutees who have been accepted for independent school places in Edinburgh, Fife and Perthshire.

Equally fine prelim results are being reported at Standard, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher levels.

We hope that readers of our site are enjoying George's entries, some not without controversy, into his Diary which keeps us up to date with weekly news.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Congratulations: Charlynne Richards (Dalgety Bay); Tom Smith (Edinburgh); Claire Macdonald (Dalgety Bay); Amy Pope (Dalgety Bay); Ian Shepherd (Perth); Ross Inglis (Crossford); Ryan Learmonth (Inverkeithing); Jo Brand (Musselburgh); Grant Hughes (Falkirk).

New tutors

We have welcomed: Dr John Davidson (Engineering, Maths and Physics); Dylan Evans (Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics); David Lumsden (Graphic Communication); Fionnuala McGlinchey (Primary); Dr Colin Mitchell (Biology and Chemistry).

Merry Christmas, 2007, and a Happy New Year, 2008

STEP AHEAD wishes all our clients and tutors the very best for an enjoyable and happy festive period.

It has been a busy and eventful year with some outstanding successes. As our expansion continues, we would like to thank all of you for your support and encouragement, and for the positive comments which you have made, both in writing and orally, about the quality we offer and about our new web-site. In conjunction with our graphic designers 39steps, we shall be looking to add features to our web-site, and we would encourage tutors, parents and youngsters to offer ideas and suggestions.

New tutors

Into Winter and we welcome Louise Cannon (Primary) and Kelly Anne Plenderleith (English, Maths, Modern Studies, Politics and Sociology)

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

As our expansion continues, these awards will be even more widespread geographically speaking, as more tutors are mindful to join in and present their recommendations.

We have pleasure to announce the following winners: Amy Brown (Dunfermline), Graham Dodds (Kirkcaldy), Kieran Harper (Rosyth), Kieran Highway (East Craigs), Ishani Krishnan (Edinburgh), Duncan Purves (Edinburgh), Robbie Travers (Edinburgh), Ryan Vohra (Edinburgh), Michael Williamson (Dunfermline), Rebecca Williamson (Dunfermline)

Special Mentions

Tutors have informed us that the following tutees are worthy of special recognition:
Primary; Guy Berry, Jack Geddes, Grant MacDonald, Amy Pope. Secondary; Gregor Campbell, Chris Crookston, Lindsay Morlock, Sophie Moran, Fraser Mutch

November 2007

Our first web-site has existed and served us well for the past five years. However, now as 2007 nears its end, our newly branded web-site appears!

Through the expertise of the exciting young graphic design company, 39steps, we trust that we have provided our readers with a highly accessible and easy-to-use site, which continues to answer all your questions and is packed full of news and comments. We shall add more and more features over the months ahead.

New tutors

During the past few weeks we have registered: Valerie Bonser (Primary); Marianne Burns (English, Maths, Music and Primary); Malcolm Dick (English, Maths and Electronics); Henry He (Accounts, Economics and Statistics); Forbes Maginnis (English, Geography and Modern Studies); Pat Stuart (Primary and Lower Secondary); Emma Watson (Primary) and Jacqueline Wilson (Biology).

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Since September, these have been awarded to: Louisa Gallanders (Limekilns); Sam Hogg (Crossford); Ben Sneddon (Cairneyhill); Craig Learmonth (Inverkeithing); Ryan Vohra (Edinburgh); Cameron Swanson (Crossford); Alistair Davis (Dalgety Bay); Charlie Dineen (Saline) and Emma Doherty (Rosyth).

Revamping of our website

Shortly this web-site will disappear forever - to be replaced by a new one!! In line with our re-branding, we shall soon have a new look web-site: still containing all the information and news which have been warmly welcomed and appreciated by many of our clients and tutors. The first person to email us, commenting on our new look, will win a prize: so keep your eyes open!!

Our new logo

Our new logo!We have designed and chosen the logo below, which, as from October 2007, will represent our Company:

Our new poster

Fliers and posters as below have been produced and are being widely circulated, especially in Edinburgh City: Click here to view the new poster

Latest developments

After consultation with our tutors' Working Group, clients and parents, we have agreed on our new logo, and, in September 2007, have instructed our graphic designers to prepare all stationery and materials with the logo appearing.

A major advertising campaign is underway as we expand our services throughout East Central Scotland. More news will be published in due course and our logo will appear - on our website and elsewhere.

The number of passes, but particularly top marks, in national exams have increased yet again this year, and we would like to congratulate all involved. We are very proud of the wonderful work done by tutors, but want to highlight the effort and commitment made by many of our clients.

STEP AHEAD's attention to detail, to building self esteem, and to our study planning have made an appreciable difference to so many pupils over the past few years. We recognise and acknowledge the faith which parents place in us and are delighted that results have justified our approach.

New tutors

Welcome to: Nicola Greig (Primary and Lower Sec), Arlene Harden ( Primary and Lower Sec), Kirsten Norrie (English and Art) and James Towill (Biology).

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Have been presented to: Iain Fleming (Limekilns), Cameron Farquhar (Limekilns), Noel Taylor (Dunfermline), Liam Jukes (Dalgety Bay), Grant MacDonald (Dalgety Bay), Cameron Laird (Limekilns) and Jack Geddes (Rumbling Bridge).

Superb examination results 2007

Early indications are that STEP AHEAD clients have surpassed all expectations again this year! As we wait to hear from some clients and tutors, we are collating results and are being told of many outstanding grades - at all levels and across a wide geographical spread.

Further info will be posted in due course.

Summer 2007

Expansion plans are in full swing: please refer to our BLOG and our Home page. With the rain teeming down at Wimbledon, the British Summer is also in full swing, and whilst some of our clients (and tutors) are enjoying a well-earned break, many are, or soon will be, taking advantage of the school holidays to continue their regular tuition. Sessions are moved in to the day during the holidays when minds are fresher and much important work does get done.


Our Blog has allowed us to keep readers updated on a number of achievements, and a particular piece of news has just come in which encapsulates all that STEP AHEAD stands for: the story of Peter Walker's achievements are outlined in this week's Blog.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Congratulations to: Chris Crookston (Crossford), Fraser Mutch (Crossford), Adam Coats (Dalgety Bay), Amy Pope (Dalgety Bay), Ross Hughes (Falkirk), Owen Prentice (Saline), Sam Pope (Dalgety Bay), Ibrahim Ibrahim (Glenrothes), Grant Hughes (Falkirk) and Ryan Learmonth (Inverkeithing).

Step Ahead is expanding

Already the largest one-to-one teacher organisation in East Central Scotland offering individual tuition in the home of a client or tutor, STEP AHEAD intends to develop its bases still further. There is more and more demand in the City of Edinburgh, and in places like Linlithgow, Falkirk, Stirling and St Andrews, and we are looking to meet fully the needs of clients in places such as these.

Tutors interested in doing more tutoring or in becoming involved, or more involved, in our organisation, are advised to contact our Director.


For: Graham Dodds who has improved his work dramatically and has earned himself a Credit pass in his 3rd Year English ; Lee Priestley, a bright and able primary pupil, who has recently passed his Level D Maths; Ibrahim Ibrahim, who with his brother, not only became a finalist in Fife Council's Anne Frank Creative Writing competition, but won first prize in the 11-15yrs section for his "Who Do You Think You Are ?" essay. He was awarded a cheque for £100 and £50 worth of books for his school, Balwearie High.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Awards have gone to: Kieran Harper (Rosyth), Ben Sneddon (Cairneyhill), Louisa Gallanders (Limekilns), Aaron Miller (Clackmannan), Ross Philp (Dunfermline), Luke Prentice (Saline) and Ross Inglis (Crossford).

Ten years on

It is over ten years since STEP AHEAD had our first clients and we have been finding out how some of them have progressed over the past decade. A few examples are listed below :

Callum Milne, from Ratho, is an outstanding sportsman, playing hockey for Scotland and GB, whilst attending Telford for a Sports HND.

Caroline Orr, from Halbeath, has been to university, is returning there this year, and continues to enjoy and excel with her horses.

(Lord) John Douglas, from Dalmahoy, has left Merchiston Castle, where he balanced academic subjects with outstanding successes in the swimming pool, and is currently doing a placement, on his agricultural course, in minus temperatures in Calgary, Canada.

Scott Gibson, from Cairneyhill, is a young adult who has gained experience in several jobs, but is going back to college to study civil engineering.

The Fisher family, from Crossford, are all making their way in life. Elaine is the mother of a gorgeous two-year old, while Stephen is working locally. Richard is a student in Glasgow, while Katie is preparing for exams in senior school.

Katharine Douglas, from Dalmahoy, is in her final year at Fettes College and is considering her options for a university place.

We would be delighted to hear of, or from, any of our previous clients.

Sunny Easter holidays

For once, children and teachers on holiday are enjoying fine weather. Reports coming in from tutors suggest that many tutees, especially those who are preparing for exams, are taking advantage of the holidays to cram in day-time tutoring sessions.

Congratulations are due to the Clark brothers for their recent successful entrance test results, and to Gregor Campbell and Lindsay Morlock who are achieving "splendid" results, according to their tutor.

Pupil of the week awards Pupil of the week

Recent awards have gone to Lee Priestley (Dunfermline), Rebecca Williamson (Dunfermline), Ryan Learmonth (Inverkeithing), Iain Fleming (Charlestown), Michael Williamson (Dunfermline), Graham Dodds (Kirkcaldy), Amy Brown (Dunfermline), Lewis Herbert (Kirkcaldy), John Chrystal (Kinross) and Connor Mitchell (Glenrothes).

New tutors

This term STEP AHEAD has welcomed John McCabe (English, French, Geography and Modern Studies), Victor Martin (Spanish) and Marius Schlemmer (Biology, Chemistry and Maths).

School places earned

It is with the greatest pleasure that we can now announce that the following pupils, in addition to Joshua Evans and Ben Gray (already recorded below), and all tutored by our Director, have successfully passed the tests, competed for and have been offered places for entry into independent schools: Lauren Coats, Adam Coats, Rhiannon Coats, George's Abousleiman, Iain Fleming, Alex Fleming and Andrew R. Angus Clark, tutored by Jackie Robertson, will also join his brother, Michael, whom our Director prepared last year.

Congratulations to Eilidh and Angus Gibson who have also just been offered places - and to their tutor, Ian Cooke.

Step ahead is a decade old

Our Director, George, officially started STEP AHEAD on 1st February 1997. Over the past ten years, it has grown in to the largest one-to-one teacher organisation offering individual tutoring in the homes of clients or tutors throughout East Central Scotland, and one of the biggest in the country. Over 380 tutors have registered during that time and we now cater for children, young people, students, young adults, indeed adults of all ages. However, it is not the size that thrills George so much - but the quality of the service - "We have outstanding teachers who really care for their tutees and, as is testified by countless satisfied parents and clients, build their self-esteem, accelerate their progress and enhance their academic results."

New tutors

We welcome Helen Alexander (Maths and Physics), Helen Ballantyne (Maths), Maureen Currie (English, French and Primary), Alison Fowler (Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics), Ian Fitzsimmons (English), Iona Macdonald (Primary), John Priest (Classical Greek, French and Latin) and Charmaine Schlemmer (Biology, Chemistry, English, Maths and Primary).


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