Read our Q&A with Donald Bennet, the founder of a new 11 Plus resource called BrightLeap.
BrightLeap is an online educational platform for students practising for the 11 plus. We caught up with the platform's founder, Donald Bennet, a successful tutor in his own right, to learn more about this unique resource and what his views are on the tutoring industry in the UK.
BrightLeap officially launched a few weeks ago and judging by your social media posts, the platform has already seen significant activity. What was your inspiration behind Bright Leap?
The inspiration came from seeing my students struggle with the intellectual challenges of the 11+ but also seeing how well they responded to technological aids. There are already a handful of 11+ resources but there was nothing up-to-the-minute and easy to use. We wanted to create a game-changing product which really added value for students. It needed to be easy to sign up, login and use!
BrightLeap looks like an incredible resource for 11 Plus tutors and parents alike and makes use of some impressive technology. How long did it take to develop the BrightLeap platform?
It has been about 24 months of hard work. Design, development and question writing were key elements, all requiring team work, research and constant evaluation of our hard work.
How many resources do you have on your platform and can you tell us how they are created?
We have tried to streamline our offering at every stage. Essentially we are an 11+ preparation resource. Questions in English, maths, and reasoning are the heart of the site, split into around 40 distinct areas. These question banks have been created by Oxbridge educated tutors and teachers over many months and are still evolving and growing.
Looking at the ‘About Us’ page on your website; you’ve assembled an impressive team of tutors, designers and project managers. How important is collaboration to Bright Leap?
I could say something corny about how important collaboration has been and I will! Working well together is utterly vital when bringing together so many disparate skill sets. The aim has always been simple: to provide a game-changing 11+ product. Yet the journey to creation is inevitably not so simple, relying on all parties being willing to learn from each other and grow in understanding of areas unfamiliar to them.
On of The Tutor Website's aims is to encourage more collaboration within the tutoring industry. In what ways do you think there could be more collaboration in the marketplace?
The use of new and valuable resources can certainly aid collaboration. I have shared various techniques and online platforms with my tutoring and agent colleagues. We can all learn from each other, especially when we meet in person and can discuss the joys (and grind) of tutoring face-to-face. TutorCruncher’s conferences have provided such opportunities as will the Tutors Association, eventually.
BrightLeap recently attended the 11 Plus Conference in London. How did you find the experience and what would be your key takeaway from the event?
It was eye-opening to see how eager tutors and parents were for the product. People really seem to see the gap in the market for an innovative and up-to-date platform. They want to make the most of it from day one, which is perfect, especially since we are offering promotions currently!
As a successful 11 Plus tutor yourself, what advice would you give someone interested in a career in private tuition?
I would encourage anyone looking at the industry to seek to see a slow but steady build up of reliable clients, whose trust is built on solid results. Results are vital and in that sense and others, the market for tutors is self-correcting. Agents can make the start a great deal easier. Bright Young Things have been my agent from day one and I have never needed to look elsewhere. As in almost any work, relationships with clients, agents and other tutors are very important. Efficient and clear communication is one way to maintain healthy relationships. If you aren’t planning to tutor for long, I would suggest you are realistic about your prospects; clients value consistency over the years and will be looking for commitment from you.
The tutoring industry has seen significant growth over the last few years, particularly in the 11 Plus market. Why, in your opinion, do you think this could be?
At the 11+ level, the growth is partly due to more applications from abroad and the corresponding bar-raising that top schools have been able to do. The value of tutors has been proven now and parents who can afford tutors often seem to have justify why they aren’t currently employing any tutors, as opposed to why they are! A top educational record is now more valuable than it was in the past. School and university places are no longer accessed through who you know, but on what you can attain in a pressured exam situation or interview. The same change has now fully occurred in most areas of the job market.
What do you think the future holds for the private tutoring industry? Have you noticed any trends that may provide us with an insight of what’s to come?
I expect tutoring to grow further, particularly in the mass-market, with the likes of tuition centres and so on. I have noticed tutoring agents attempting rapid growth and losing a physical connection with their tutors. This is a mistake on a number of counts, though easy to do. No agent should be sending out tutors they haven’t met, both for safety reasons and for the sake of quality. I suspect the days for some agents may be numbered as new avenues of promotion allow tutors to represent themselves unaided. The most exciting developments in the industry have been related to making tutoring fairer. Action Tutoring seem to have had the most dramatic impact and I would encourage all tutors to get involved.
You can try BrightLeap for free for 30 days by registering for a free trial.