Bonas MacFarlane's support changes children’s lives. Thousands have benefitted from our approach.

A successful education involves many small, sure steps – from cradle to career. Our advisors, tutors and mentors support children as they take these steps. We achieve our results with careful planning, outstanding educators and by placing children into the right schools and universities. Crucially, we share a long-term aim – helping children to become successful and happy adults.

Bonas MacFarlane really is unique amongst education providers. Having spent twenty-five years as pioneers of our services, we are now the leading company of our kind in the UK. We manage all aspects of a child’s education.

Our team of full-time consultants and support staff, based in Chelsea, is the largest and broadest-reaching of any education support provider in the UK.


Providing 1-1 Tuition, Home-Schooling & Holiday Programmes

1-1 Tuition

No other approach is so focussed on individual needs, so able to inspire and so free of any limits.


Bonas MacFarlane pioneered a modern professional approach to one of the oldest forms of education.

Camp Bonas

This life-changing experience will help children who have been in lockdown this year to fly into the new academic year.


Latest news from the Bonas MacFarlane blog

May 12, 2021

Extracurricular activities are important for a wide range of reasons; from building friendships and gaining confidence, to developing a wide range of skills. They can demonstrate who you are outside of academics to your future school, university or desired workplace. The chosen activities will provide you with an opportunity to showcase your community spirit, teamwork and communication skills (your ‘soft skills’).

However, although soft skills are important and what takes place in the classroom can not be the sole focus of child’s education, academic performance must nonetheless remain the primary focus. Whilst schools and universities are placing increased importance of soft skills and how these can be measured, academic work and results still play a fundamental part in a child’s education. If entrance to a top university is desired, then top academic results are required.

If pupils do not have a good balance between school and extracurricular activities, then it can be incredibly stressful and will likely have a detrimental impact on both elements. It is therefore of utmost importance that children strike the right balance between their academic work and activities outside of the classroom.

Choose your extra curricular activities carefully:

Whether at prep school, senior school or university you will not have time to do everything on offer, so consider carefully what you choose. It is far more enjoyable and rewarding to really get involved in a few carefully selected activities than take on too many and only scratch the surface of what they can entail.

You might want to think about what you enjoy but perhaps also think tactically about what may help you later down the line with university or even job applications (e.g. team sports, charity work or student council). The overriding factor should be your enjoyment of the activity though and how it enriches your life, education and formative years.   

The time you have for extra curricular activities:

Before you join the debating team, commit to DofE, sign up to play another musical instrument or try out for the rugby team this year, look at the time you have available. After school, during school in lunch breaks or weekends are the common times for extracurricular activities. Weekends can be most beneficial if you are a boarder with no family commitments and the facilities are available to you. Also don't forget the school holidays.

Planning out your extra curricular activities:

You could treat the planning of your extra curricular activities like your school treats your academic lessons by making a timetable. You will need to think whether there are clashes, if it leaves you with any time off and also rather importantly – will you be relying on someone else to facilitate these various activities. If it is the holidays or evenings and you need to get to your fencing class, will there always be someone free to take you?

Consider the periods when you will need to readdress the balance:

There will be times you need to readdress the balance; in the lead up to your exams or entry assessments for futures schools. To use the holidays as an example; you may not be able to practice the drums every day over Christmas when the family is over or you may not have the facilities at home to work on your woodwork.

This should be considered when choosing your extra curricular activities - will it be possible to take time off from the chosen activity during the important academic periods.

Discuss your plan with others:

You may know what extra curricular activities excite you and what you are passionate about, but remember you can also talk to your teachers/housemaster/tutor/parents and ask their advice. In particular, your tutor will be able to highlight where you may be stretching yourself too thin or what areas you could push yourself in a little more. They could also give advice on the academic areas you may need to focus on instead.

School Placement Manager, Bonas MacFarlane Education

May 06, 2021

Date: Tuesday, 22 June 1000 - 1900
Location: The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London, SW6 3PR
More information:

At the Summer Fair, London parents will discover schooling that will help their children develop as exhilaratingly happy and inspired learners.

The Fair brings together over 45 exhibiting schools - from London and across the Kingdom. Sampling this cross-section of British independent schooling provides an efficient overview of the sector. And many of our visitors since the first ground breaking Independent Schools Show in 2007 have discovered, through our unique approach to exhibiting, the actual schools their children have gone on to attend.

This approach goes deeper than informing about entrance procedures, school values, facilities and results. The fairs allow parents to have those vital, in depth, face to face discussions with senior admissions staff or headteachers, that are hard to fit around whistle-stop group school tours at Open Days.

That’s why we go to great lengths to secure the right locations for our fairs. A beautifully discreet, ‘third space’ environment really does promote relaxed yet full and frank disclosure - on both sides. However prestigious, will a school accommodate the way each pupil, as a highly distinctive individual, is inspired, learns, plays and builds confidence? More often than not, it will. But independent education affords parents the luxury of choice for their children. The way we give them access to schools makes sure they exploit that choice - through private, personal discovery.    

Post-lockdown, many London families are reconsidering whether a city or country school would best suit their child. This fair for independent schools is organised into two distinct sections: one for families looking for London day schools; the other for boarding and relocation to day schools / flexi-boarding  outside the capital.

The most beguiling choices are often between options where a commonality of excellence and culture expresses itself in a different geographical context.

  • London enjoys several ancient schools that are leaders among the broadest based academic schools in the English speaking world; and the city hosts countless other superb, more recent and groundbreaking establishments besides, of wildly different sizes, where pupils access rich cultural diversity and sporting excellence - on and off campus.
  • Meanwhile, within easy reach of the metropolis (and even within it) are a multitude of other historically important, outstandingly academic and mixed ability schools, with acres of green space, superb facilities and extended days, offering all the holistic benefits of residential based or day schooling - from art, drama and music to outward bound and sporting activities.

Even a move to a full boarding school is increasingly accompanied by a move to a new home. Knight Frank, one of the Fair’s sponsors, will be on hand to help parents place their school selection in the vital context of where and in what kind of property they wish to live.

The Summer Fair is the culmination of a nine week programme of Parents Forums. These events feature leading independent schools, together with education, property and financial experts. We take parents on virtual school visits to meet leading heads; we interview top educationalists; we talk to the shrewdest school fee planners; we explore scholarships and bursaries; and we provide market intelligence about the London and re-location property markets.

Three Parent Forums will be recorded live from the Brewin Dolphin sponsored theatre at the Fair. Chaired by Ed Vaizey, these talks will also be available online.

Online talks are free for parents to watch.
Family Tickets for the Fair cost £25.

The Independent Schools Show Summer Fair is sponsored by:
Knight Frank
Brewin Dolphin
Bonas MacFarlane Education

Media Partners:
Country & Town House Magazine
Tatler Magazine

Education partners:
Independent Schools Council
The Good Schools Guide

Charity partner:
Choose Love

Staying Safe At The Summer Fair

With easing of Covid-19 restrictions and growing demand from London parents eager to find the right school solutions, the show will follow safe guidelines and restrictions to ensure everyone’s safety and make it an enjoyable visit.

The Fair is split into four time slots so visitors can pick when they plan to attend and we are limiting numbers to ensure there is no overcrowding.

1000 - 1200
1230 - 1430
1500 - 1700
1730 - 1930

On arrival, temperatures will be read and full track and trace regulations will be followed.

What schools say about the Independent Schools Show:

“The show was truly brilliant. To have all that spread of expertise, passion, vigour and rigour under one rather spectacular roof is inspirational and uplifting.”

What parents say:

“More recently the family have started looking at country preps, which we liked a lot. We are now unsure whether to stay in London or to move out to Hampshire / Oxfordshire area. We are coming to the Fair for some guidance and to clarify our thoughts.”

What David Wellesley Wesley, the Show’s Founder, says:

“After 12 months of lockdown I am looking for ways to give my children more space and better access to the countryside. At the same time I fully appreciate the benefits of growing up in London. Like all parents attending the fair, we will be using the event to help us decide what will be best for our two children.”

Click here for further information and to meet the exhibiting schools

Get your tickets here:

Use 'iss50' Promo Code for 50% off general price tickets

May 05, 2021

Oxbridge languages admissions tests.

Whether you are applying to study modern languages at the University of Oxford or Cambridge, you will need to sit an admissions assessment regardless. The main differences between the two institutions are the structure of the two written tests and when exactly they are sat in the Oxbridge application process. Below we seek to clarify any confusion you may have and include top tips for preparation. Vámonos...

What is the Oxford MLAT test and how to prepare?

The MLAT (Modern Languages Admissions Test) is a written exam used by the University of Oxford as part of their admissions test for any prospective students wishing to read Modern Languages or a combination of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Classics, English, History, Philosophy or European and Middle Eastern Languages.

What does the test involve?

Any applicants wishing to study French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Czech or Modern Greek who do so at A Level or equivalent already will sit an individual exam for that language, which lasts 30 minutes. For any applicants looking to study an additional language ab initio or Russian single honours, they will also have to do a 30 minute generalised LAT (Languages Aptitude Test).

Although the content of the MLAT varies year on year, the core objectives remain the same:

  • Language-specific papers for applicants who study the subject already aim to test knowledge of basic language structures rather than vocabulary specifically. They may also include gap-fill exercises and translation from the target language into English and/or vice versa.
  • The LAT seeks to gauge individual ability in analysing how languages work so that the university can assess applicants’ aptitude for learning a new language from scratch. This task involves a made-up language that bears no relation to any particular language the student may have studied before.

The assessment will be sat at school, college or an examination centre in November before the interview stage, as a means of sorting out those who already have outstanding personal statements and references and are on-track to achieve stellar exam grades. Oxford also uses the test to consider candidates from around the world who do not sit the same exam qualifications as UK students but who have taken the same entrance assessment.

Candidates are not ranked according to their MLAT results as such, but rather their results are taken into account alongside all other evidence they have submitted as part of their application. Furthermore, there is no mark threshold students have to reach in order to be put through to the final round.

How to prepare?

  • GRAMMAR: students should revise grammar structures in the target language(s) used at A Level or equivalent and be familiar with any ‘exceptions to the rule’, which are likely to be tested during the MLAT to catch applicants out. Analysing grammar structures in depth will also benefit students sitting the LAT as approaching the artificial language from a grammatical point of view will help them dissect what function each word has within the phrase. 
  • VOCABULARY: as much as the MLAT is not a vocabulary test, markers will expect students to be familiar with vocabulary of a register and subject used at A Level or equivalent as well as common words in the target language.
  • TRANSLATION: practising translation between the target language(s) and English will also prove beneficial. Students should be careful when undertaking the MLAT translation task(s) to translate every part of the phrase, but not to translate the entire sentence word for word (literal translation).
  • PAST PAPERS: sitting past papers is the best way to familiarise yourself with the written exam, these can be found on the University of Oxford website here.
  • FURTHER STUDY: students can also be encouraged to read newspapers and literature in the target language, as well as listening to the radio and podcasts, in order to help familiarise them with linguistic patterns and to pick up new vocabulary. Even watching foreign TV with the language subtitles on can help accustom them to the target language structures.

What is the Cambridge Modern Languages assessment test and how to prepare?

The MMLAA (Modern and Medieval Languages Admissions Assessment) is a written exam used by the University of Cambridge as part of the admissions process for any prospective students wishing to read Modern Languages or Modern Languages as part of a dual honours degree.

What does the test involve?

The Cambridge languages assessment is based on a short text in English and involves both a discursive response in the chosen target language, which lasts 40 minutes, as well as a discursive response in English, which lasts 20 minutes. There are twice as many marks for the former discursive response as there are for the latter, and the tests typically draw upon both summary and comprehension tasks. If you have applied to study two languages which you already take at A Level or equivalent, you can choose which language to respond in for the first part of the assessment.

Unlike the Oxford MLAT, the Cambridge MMLAA does not include any gap-fill exercises, verb conjugation tests or translation tasks. Rather, it aims to see how well applicants can express themselves in (one of) their chosen language(s). That being said, grammatical accuracy should still be of a high standard. Marks are awarded to students who attempt complexity and range in their written work: those who attempt more advanced linguistic structures and vocabulary but get them slightly wrong are more likely to impress than those who play it safe with entirely correct but repetitive, short sentences.

Applicants will sit the test on the same day and at the same college as their interview at Cambridge. Like Oxford, the results of the assessment are not viewed in isolation but taken into consideration alongside all elements of the student’s application to the university.

How to prepare?

  • GRAMMAR: students should be familiar with complex grammar structures used at A Level or equivalent. Being ready to deploy these alongside simpler phrases in their written work will show great adeptness at transitioning seamlessly between shorter, punchier sentences for effect and longer structures to show off.
  • VOCABULARY: similarly to the above grammar recommendation, the assessment markers will expect you to be familiar with common words in the target language and those used at A Level or equivalent; the use of sophisticated but concise vocabulary is a sure-fire way to stand out from your peers within the 250 word count limit.
  • PAST PAPERS: familiarising yourself with the assessment format is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the exam, specimen papers can be found on the University of Cambridge website here.
  • FURTHER STUDY: applicants should read widely in the target language. Anything from classical literature to news bulletins are sure to expose students to a variety of nuanced language registers and specific vocabulary their A Level courses or equivalent may not cover.

Bonne chance à tous!

Article by Ingrid Clover at Bonas MacFarlane
Call Ingrid with further questions on +44 (0) 20 3744 5535

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