Everything you need to know about UK Independent Education

About Us

Meet Debrett's Education

Sioban O’Connor

Whilst in her working life, Sioban has over 30 years of experience of British Independent/Private Schools, she can also honestly claim that she has been involved in Independent education for almost all her life and from all angles. She started Prep school with her sisters -she’s the one in the middle – at the age of 4, and then boarding at 8, and all the way through to A Level.

Sioban understands all too well how life’s path can be somewhat circuitous, and her own career has zig zagged from Banking to Advertising and many years directing for Theatre. It was through that that she ‘fell’ into teaching, scooping up teaching A Level Drama and Theatre Studies in 6 different Independent schools in Berkshire. She worked in several schools both State and Independent and has over 15 years of school leadership experience as both a Deputy and Headteacher as well as a Master’s degree in Education Management and her National Professional Qualification for Headship.

Her two daughters were also educated in Private schools, so she equally understands a parent’s perspective. She has also served as a Governor of a school in Special Measures, done research into models of school leadership for the National College of School Leadership and been an A Level and GCSE examiner.

All of this has led her to, and informed, her work as a consultant; advising families looking for schools for children of all ages and abilities and she is passionate about helping you to find exactly the right school for your child.
Senior Consultant

Pratima Parmar

Pratima is committed to supporting families and students in helping them make the best choices on their academic journey.

She joined an Education Consultancy after a long career in advertising and research. A parent herself, she has first-hand experience of the considerations parents need to make when choosing private schools and planning academic pathways for young people.

Over the last few years, she has developed expert knowledge about the independent school sector, career planning and the application process.

She has in-depth knowledge of top UK independent schools and their selection processes, and has a long track record of successfully placing students of all ages, from prep to the sixth form, including those into super selective/elite schools.

She is also our expert when it comes to supporting students' applications to top Universities and Medical schools.
Debrett’s Education Associate Consultant

Dr Marcella Edwards

Marcella has worked as an educational consultant for 12 years. She specialises in secondary school and university placements globally and works with students and their families on all aspects of their educational needs. Her approach is hands-on and connected: she is meticulous and both highly knowledgeable, and efficient. Marcella was educated at Sherborne Girls and Manchester University. She has a Ph.D. in 20th century literature and cultural politics.
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Debrett’s Education Associate Consultant

Alison Judge

Alison has worked in international education for two and a half decades, across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in India, Japan, Italy and the UK. Previously teaching at the University of London, she began her career as assistant guardian to 40 Japanese students at UK boarding schools in the 1990s and is now Teaching Associate in English and Communication at the University of Cambridge.

Alison is a former international student herself, at university in Japan, and so has deep insight into the experiences, needs and goals of newly arrived students. A qualified teacher of English to speakers of other languages, she also has solid experience with British boarding schools across the UK. Consulting with Debrett’s international clients since 2016, she speaks a range of European and Asian languages, and is currently learning her eighth, Arabic.

She holds a BA in Japanese from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London), an MSc in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and with Distinction, a Postgraduate Diploma in International Liaison and Communication, specialising in Education, from the University of Westminster.
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Debrett’s Education Associate Consultants

Eliot Watkins

Eliot taught at King’s College School, Wimbledon (1990-2013) and King’s College Junior School (1988-2020) where he gained much experience right across the whole age range, teaching mainly history but also some Latin and English. At the same time, he developed a taste for tutoring as he so enjoys the different challenges which teaching one to one can produce. He feels a focused and relaxed hour of tutoring can achieve so much in terms of increasing a student’s confidence and levels of understanding- and one can explain so much more new material and clear up so many misunderstandings.

Eliot has successfully prepared students for Common Entrance to all the major public schools as well as helping them to achieve Scholarships to Eton, Winchester, St Pauls and Westminster. He has taught GCSE and A levels/IB in History, English, Latin and politics to pupils from about 20 different schools-both state and independent. He particularly enjoys working on personal statements for university and Oxbridge preparation.
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Debrett’s Education Associate Consultants

Isobel Askew

After a long career in Investment Banking in the UK and Overseas, Isobel turned her attention to providing the type of service that was missing from the residential property market in sales, lettings and relocation. Initially gaining her experience with a bespoke and then a major agency, she set up her own consultancy to handle her clients' requirements both in the UK and overseas.

Issy has lived and worked in numerous locations, both nationally and internationally but these days, she looks after her clients and their needs from her base in the South East of England.
Issy understands all too well the upheaval that relocating can be for families and that while finding a house might be relatively straight forward, finding a home is much more complicated and important.

She is committed to supporting our clients to ensure that the process is as smooth and stress free as possible.
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Social Media Manager

Frederica Munro

Like so many of us, Frederica has certainly had a portfolio career. She started in retail when she was still at school and then she progressed to the role of Supervisor for a leading designer concession, before working in recruitment.

She went to university to study Law, but decided it wasn’t for her and got a job as the Purchasing Assistant and After Sales Care Lead for a top nursey supplier. Frederica was privately educated and now as a mum herself, she understands all too well the dilemma parents face when thinking about schools for their children…
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What people say about Us

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Parent, London
Sioban has been a rock of support and encouragement for us these past few months. We finally accepted - quite late in the day - that our daughter's current school is not the right fit for J. We were overwhelmed with the prospect of finding a new school that could properly support our daughter academically whilst providing the right balance of pastoral care. I underwent extensive research into education consultants and after our first phone call, knew I had found someone I could trust in Sioban. Sioban spent the time getting to know us as a family and more importantly J. as a person and consequently was well positioned to find a school that we believe will help J. thrive academically and help her become a confident young woman. Having been through this process recently myself, I know how daunting the prospect is of putting one's faith in a stranger to manage the future of our most loved one and can hand on heart say we would not be on our road to happiness without Sioban.
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Dr S. C
Parent, London
We went to Sioban when we had nowhere else to go, we were desperate to find an appropriate school for our daughter and had come to a dead end. Sioban put our mind at rest and found a school that was perfect for us. I wish we had turned to Sioban first and years earlier. Since placing our daughter, she has kept in touch and advised us on how to approach certain aspects of schooling. I have no hesitation in recommending her services. She is a caring and understanding individual who appreciates that all children have individual needs. She is also widely connected and understands the capabilities of each school.
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Parent, Kent
I can’t thank you enough for the help you gave me when my daughter was struggling at her school at the time. It was so such a support to me that you listened to the problems we were having and your knowledge about the other schools that were on offer was fantastic. All the organising of visits and talking to the schools about our requirements on our behalf helped us make a very successful informed choice of which school to move to. A. gained the grades she needed to get to the university she wanted which she would not have done without your help and advice to go to a school which she achieved in. She is in her second year at - university studying languages where she has this year achieved a first in German and Dutch and a 2:1 in Russian. Thank you again and I would highly recommend you and the service you provide to anyone looking for a new school.
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Parent, Bermuda
We are from Bermuda and wanted help and guidance both with the process applying for boarding schools in the UK for the 6th form and selecting a suitable school for our son to do his A levels. We had an introductory interview with Sioban, with our son. We left it a little late but Sioban immediately put our mind at ease and guided us seamlessly through the whole process, finding for us a number of excellent schools which were well matched to my son’s abilities and interests and provided invaluable help with liaising with our short-listed choice schools and dealing with their requirements, including personal statements. We felt fortunate to have worked with Sioban, who is very knowledgeable, warm, friendly and caring - she kept in contact well after we had secured a place at a great school just to check up on us - and would highly recommend her to assist anyone looking for help, guidance and reassurance when looking for the ideal school for their child. “.
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Veryan Larmour
Admissions Officer (Lower Sixth entry) at Tonbridge School
Sioban has previously approached Tonbridge and owing to her insight, careful preparation and wisdom as an ex-Headteacher, we were delighted to offer places to her clients. Sioban is always calm, well prepared and most importantly kind. Her candour gives me confidence to work with her, in addition to her perceptive comments and knowledge of which school fits well for each client.
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Lou Wivell
Former Director of Admissions at Kingsley School
I have had the pleasure of working with Sioban for a number of years, since she first started working as an Education Consultant. In that time, Sioban has been thorough and detailed with her knowledge of students that she has recommended to me. She really understands the needs of the child and carefully selects schools that she knows have the relevant support for that child to flourish. Her passion in finding the right school is second to none and she works tirelessly with the families and schools to achieve that aim. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Sioban and I hope to continue working with her in the future.
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Jackie Fisher
Director of Boarding, Lime House School Carlisle
Sioban has introduced a number of students to Lime House School which have resulted in very successful placements. Sioban 's knowledge of the educational system and the ability to place students in suitable establishments is testament to her professionalism and empathy she shows for each of her students. The continued support she offers her students is exceptional: from the initial introductions to the school to leaving the educational establishment and moving on to higher education should that be appropriate. Sioban is always keen to make firm and lasting relationships with any of the education bodies she works with and this is much appreciated by those schools. I have always found Sioban to be honest and hardworking. She is a credit to her profession and has played a pivotal part in the lives of so many students.
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