On Set with BrightSparkz Tutors

Lights, camera, action!

BrightSparkz Location Tutors

In the year that BrightSparkz Tutors has been providing film production companies with on-set (location) tutors and childminders, our tutors have travelled all over South Africa, from Mpumalanga and the Drakensberg, to the Cederberg and all over Cape Town. No day is ever the same, with stunts taking place, weather being made, crazy costumes and crazier make up, and incredible sets being built overnight. One thing stays the same – this is a film set, not a school, and children partaking as lead actors or extra’s need to be kept occupied, safe, and ready to head to set at a moment’s notice.

Any minor working on a filmset must legally be accompanied by a childminder. This role frequently extends to tutoring, as the school-ages actors and extras are often out of school for days or weeks at a time while filming, and someone needs to ensure their daily schooling requirements are met!

Schooling starts when the children sign in, and location tutors check up on their schooling needs and homework, which subjects they need help with today and what their schedule will be like. BrightSparkz ensures that there is a tutor on set that can handle questions from any major subject (Maths, Science, English and Afrikaans, and others if necessary – this sometimes includes other countries’ curricula!). Once on set, and in-between takes, the books come out. BrightSparkz’ childminders and tutors help the children through any tough course work, helping them through any school-related problems they may be having, as well as supervising homework and studying. It’s important for the children to stay up to date with their school work, and do something productive with all the time spent waiting around!

Location tutors and child minders also act as a go-between for staff and school-aged actors/extras, shuttling them to set when needed, collecting them for meals and scenes, and ensuring that all children are where they should be, when they should be there! (Our tutors sometimes need eyes at the back of our heads, and on the sides!). A major concern on set is safety. Any set always has a great deal of heavy equipment, cables, cameras – and this just the smaller things. Stunts and explosions, fire or snakes and scorpions are just some of the things that threaten the children’s safety. It is also these things that amaze the children as they watch a stunt or listen to a snake wrangler explain the way the snakes’ poison works (a lesson they will never forget – no books or tests required!).

BrightSparkz’ location tutors and childminders have another important job – being an advocate and voice for school-ages actors/kids in an adult-dominated environment, making sure they have someone to turn to, to ask for advice, or even to speak up if the time between bathroom breaks becomes too long!

BrightSparkz ensures that tutors and childminders are suitably qualified, with university and teaching degrees or well on their way to obtaining them, as well as experience tutoring the subjects they are on set to tutor. They are also passionate about children and education, and aim to make the exciting experience of working on a filmset both fun and productive!

The BrightSparkz team also provide regular updates and report-backs to the production team on academic matters, as well as personally liaise with schools and parents regarding examinations and assignments. We currently supply location tutors and child minders in Cape Town and Johannesburg, but tutors in other locations can also be arranged. Get in touch with us if you are interested in booking a location tutor, or becoming a location tutor!

The Crucial Importance of the Grade 11 Year

Setting up Your Future for Success

Coasting through high school and waking up just before your Matric finals to put forth massive effort may seem appealing, but it is short-sighted and unwise! Unless you (or your family) is abundantly wealthy, and you believe that you’ll never need to be concerned with earning a sustainable income, you need to be aware of the importance of the impact of your Grade 11 year on your future success.

Here’s why…

Grade 11 forms the platform for much of what you need to learn for Grade 12. It builds the knowledge you need to base your Matric material on. If you don’t pay attention throughout your Grade 11 year, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot later.

Studying is important in grade 11

If you intend to study at university, your Grade 11 marks are vitally important. You could possibly use these marks initially when applying for your degree or diploma of choice.

Granted, your Grade 11 marks can only give you provisional acceptance and you would still need to excel in your Matric finals, but it gives you a bit of breathing room in Grade 12 if you have a solid Grade 11 foundation – like a free headstart. You’d have to perform quite badly in Grade 12 to lose your provisional acceptance.

There is a critical shortage of places available at South African universities. For example, for the 2017 academic year, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) had a total of only 10 500 places to offer to more than 135 500 first year applicants, and the University of the Witwatersrand had only 6 200 first year places and around 69 000 applications!

Looking at these figures, it’s clear how foolish it would be to mess around during your Grade 11 year while others are working hard and gaining provisional acceptance at the sought after universities? Waiting for your Matric year to deliver the goods puts you on the back foot and makes your life unnecessarily difficult.

Does that mean that if you do badly in Grade 11 and extremely well in Matric, that you won’t get an opportunity to attend university? Not exactly, but you’ll have to wait in line. You may have to defer your studies for a year due to those with early acceptance getting preference, and improve on your marks even more.

University entrance is competitiveIf you are struggling to get the marks you need to do well in Grade 11, consider getting help sooner rather than later. Brightsparkz Tutors can help you to achieve the results you need with a hand-picked tutor especially for you. Your tutor may also be able to guide and advise you about university life as they may be studying themselves, or be a graduate who has been through it all.

Another bonus! Early application with Grade 11 results will give you the option to apply for bursaries, as well as one of the limited spaces in a university residence of your choice.

Taking your grade 11 year seriously and putting in your best effort serves as a “practice run” for your Matric year, and will make your life a lot easier in Matric too. It will help you prepare, and identify gaps in your knowledge. It also instils self-discipline which is needed not only for Grade 12, but also for study at university of college.

Use your Grade 11 year to put some serious thought into your future – what are you planning to study? Where would you like to study if you’re accepted? Are your marks good enough in the correct subjects to study what you’d like to do? (By now, you should’ve chosen the subjects you need, but if you need to make a change – the beginning of Grade 11 is the latest we’d advise this).

Now that you realize the importance of your Grade 11 year, what can you do to improve your chances of success for the future you want?

Develop a plan to put yourself ahead of the other approximately 800 000 of your peers who will compete with you for university places and jobs after school. Even if you do not intend to study further after school, you will still need to compete for employment, both in South Africa and abroad.

Start building a CVStart building a CV (curriculum vitae) for yourself. School leavers and even new graduates often struggle to obtain employment as they have no work experience. It’s difficult to get relevant work experience when you are still at school, but it can be done. Here’s how:

– If your school promotes a “Grade 11 Job Shadowing” project, participate wholeheartedly. If you don’t know what this is, it’s an opportunity for Grade 11 learners to spend a week (often during the school holidays), job shadowing the type of work they’d like to do (preferably) in an organisation which is willing to engage with school learners in this manner.

– If your school does not promote this initiative, be pro-active and approach some companies yourself to organise it. The experience will be invaluable in providing you with insight into working life, and whether you’re suited to a certain type of work. Bear in mind that some companies might not agree to your request, but keep trying.

– You can ask your family, your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends or your Life Orientation teacher for companies they may know who may be willing to give you an opportunity for job shadowing. Once you know who you’d like to approach, do it personally, either via email, phone call or visit. Do not let your parents ask for you – you are the one who needs to do the work, and it demonstrates maturity and pro-activeness.

Be on time!

– When you get the opportunity, treat it as a proper job. If everyone starts work at 8am sharp, make sure that you are ready to start work at that time. Do what you are told to do as well as you can. Do not walk around with your cell phone hanging from your hand. Be observant, and help wherever you can.

– At the end of the week, ask for a reference. Hopefully it will be a good one. Perhaps it will even open the door for you once you finish school for a job opportunity, or even a bursary. Add the reference to your CV.

– Don’t expect payment. You’re getting something better than payment – free experience (although they may pay, it’s unlikely).

– Accumulate other valuable references from doing weekends work or part time jobs. Anything that sets you apart from the masses will be to your benefit. Even working as a waitron and being on time and diligent can earn you a good reference as someone who is reliable and learns fast.

Volunteer!

– Volunteering at an animal shelter or a weekend job at the local vet for example, can improve your chances of being accepted into veterinary studies (a very specialised field). You will have relevant experience and be showing a keen interest when selections for places are made, provided you also have the necessary grades.

Volunteer

– Volunteering for community service work, or helping at church (holiday club or youth work), or helping at an orphanage may also lead to some great references for you. Most of your peers will not do this and it will set you apart.

 

Putting some thought into your future after school can go a long way in determining your success, and you are encouraged to start as early as Grade 11!

Tutor Of The Month: Erin Miller

 Get your own amazing tutor!

Erin is our July 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Erin matriculated from St Andrews School for Girls in 2014 with excellent results all-round, and is currently in her 3rd year of a BA Psychology degree at the University of Pretoria. She is truly passionate about education and would like to teach special needs children once she qualifies. Erin joined BrightSparkz Tutors in 2016 and has gone over and above to prove herself as both an incredibly reliable, focussed and enthusiastic tutor and Concession Facilitator. She is always willing to help, even at short notice, and is constantly going the extra mile for her learners and clients. Erin has worked with more than seven of our clients (tutoring and exam concession clients) over the past year. All of her clients have been immediately willing to provide wonderful feedback and phenomenal testimonies for Erin as an outstanding tutor, as well as a mentor to their children. Erin – thank you for being exceptional! We are so proud to have you as part of our dynamic team!

Erin’s clients have the following to say about her: 

“As always the facilitators were punctual and very professional. Once again a pleasant experience liaising with all!”

“My concession facilitators were very friendly, kind and professional. They made me comfortable and calm when I was anxious about tests and exams. Your team is perfect!”

 

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.

Concession Facilitators: Making exams less stressful!

What does a Concession Facilitator do?

At BrightSparkz, our Concession Facilitators (readers, scribes and prompters) ensure that all students have simple, smooth, and stress-free test and exam periods. By providing direct and personalized instruction alongside high-end proficiency in transcribing talent, a BrightSparkz Concession Facilitator ensures that your knowledge is truly reflected in the written component of your test or exam and that every aspect is addressed in a detailed and transparent manner. Concessions Facilitators also ensure that the instructions, questions, and any additional, relevant information are all highlighted and effectively presented to maximize academic performance.

Readers

  • They dictate questions, sources, and instructions to ensure clarity and comprehension.
  • Having a reader will ensure that you hear every aspect of question! This reduces the chance of mistakes and skipping parts of questions, and improves your ability to answer optimally.
  • Readers are a great help for any students with dyslexia, in addition to those with other special needs conditions that impair textual and visual reception.

Scribes

  • These highly skilled writers will transcribe your dictated work in a neat and professional manner, therefore ensuring you peace of mind.
  • Having a scribe will allow you to focus entirely on constructing your answer. You then simply dictate your words to the scribe who writes it down diligently and efficiently.
  • Scribes provide invaluable assistance to any students who qualify for writing allowances, including cases of arm and hand injuries.

Book a Concession Facilitator today!

Endless Benefits!

BrightSparkz Tutors can provide you with experienced and talented Concession Facilitators to ensure that your tests and examinations reflect your true capability. With over 10 years of tutor-matching experience, BrightSparkz has assisted with more than 500 hours of concessions facilitation over the past 2 years. Learners have experienced a substantial increase in their academic performance and marks, as well as reduced stress levels. This has resulted in learners and students excelling at their studies in a way that highlights their true potential, and even exceeding expectation. Book a Concession Facilitator now.

What our Clients have to say

Friday’s exam went well. Both Munira and Nwabisa were waiting for Taryn and Kayla when they arrived at college. They both read well and clearly. Kayla mentioned that it was Nwabisa’s first time reading as she had only scribed previously, and that her reading was good and very clear. Both my girls felt very comfortable with them.

– Rowena, Durban North

Overall I give BrightSparkz a perfect 10/10 rating! The admin team were amazing as was my Writer. The test went really well and the admin team got back to me super quickly and assured me of a Writer. Amazing service and I couldn’t ask for better. 10/10! 🙂

– Aiden, Sandton

Written By: Filipp Stoliarov, BrightSparkz Tutor & Concessions Facilitator – Cape Town

Tutor Of The Month: Genna Moss

 Genna Moss - June 2017 Tutor of the Month

Genna is our June 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Genna is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geology and Chemistry at UCT and matriculated from Wynberg Girls’ High School in 2013, having received 4 distinctions in Maths, Biology, Geography and Life Orientation. While still in high school she worked as a peer tutor and has been tutoring for BrightSparkz since 2016. She has been assisting quite a few of our learners since starting with us, two of whom are sponsored learners, and has had several short term or once off learners in the past, who all loved working with her. Genna is always on the ball and super friendly towards the BrightSparkz team and the families she tutors, and we can always count on her to assist a learner in need. When she is not tutoring or studying, she is out on the trails, taking part in mountain biking challenges, or in the water, working towards completing her advanced open diving course. 

Genna’s clients have the following to say about her: 

​”BINGO!!! Genna was a hit. My daughter worked hard for the test but she also says she really enjoyed her lesson with Genna very much … and scored 86% WOOHOO!​” 

“You can see she understands what she is talking about and is very excited about the subject. She didn’t just learn the content parrot fashion and instead came to teach it to me.”​​​

​”The match was great. She is bubbly but firm and he liked the fact that she wasn’t there to try to make a friend. She had a job to do, did it very well and got down to business very quickly.​​”

“Genna had called me prior to meeting us and I had the opportunity to discuss some of my concerns and she took this info and planned the lesson and gave me feedback after the lesson on what my son needs.​ This is the first time a tutor has been forthcoming with any information / feedback, so well done!​”

​”Genna is awesome and her and my son have connected nicely.​”

 

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.

Holiday Tutoring WILL Give Your Child the Edge!

School's out - how to make the holidays productiveAre your children daydreaming about the fast-approaching school holidays? Late nights, lazy mornings in bed, spending time with their friends, and most of all – freedom from homework! Perhaps you are looking forward to not fighting the traffic for a few weeks, not preparing school lunches or making sure uniforms are ironed and no after-school pick up drama? We imagine all of the above!

We also know that holiday tutoring and how to get the right tutor are not the most popular or important things on your (or your child’s) mind right now, but we’re going to try to change that!

The school holidays give children a much-needed break from day-long learning and routine, and are a definite necessity in the life of every child. It allows them time to recharge, have fun and be a child! However, this can be a time to really take advantage of your child’s available time for their own good.

If your child is excelling at school, and there is no room for improvement, you are indeed fortunate and probably the envy of most parents of school-aged learners. However, for many children, a complete brain shutdown over the holidays is not as good an idea as parents may think. Studies have shown that learners, particularly young children, display a dip in their academic abilities after extended periods of relaxation, such as long holidays.

Once back at school, learners are expected to continue on the same, if not a higher level (due to them having had a break), but, teachers do notice a significant downward shift in all subjects, as well as in reading and handwriting levels – all at an even weaker level than prior to the break. Learners (and their parents) can expect it to take a week or two to get back into the swing of things again, and for academic performance to be restored.

Help your child avoid the post-holiday academic dip!

Young minds need to be continuously stimulated. Children will find something to do with their holidays, but the question is: Are these activities going to benefit them, or simply allow for academic regress? By getting a tutor, you can ensure that your child avoids the post-holiday academic dip.

 

Here’s how a Holiday Tutoring Program can give your child the edge:

  1. It keeps a general structure

Although we may sometimes resent it, we all need structure in our lives, and children even more so. Without it, a certain level of anxiety can begin to set in, as too much unpredictability is uncomfortable for most people. Learners go from a strict and organized schedule of classes, tests, homework, sport and extracurricular activities, to weeks of screens, games and mobile devices, sleeping in, and countless hours to fill.

A holiday tutor will ensures that the academic realm of life is still under control. It also allows for the other 80% of the holiday time to be enjoyed as resting time, knowing that someone constructive and stimulating has been accomplished. It leads to the satisfaction of “keeping on top of things” instead of subconscious stressing time – knowing that the break will soon end and that they are not at all ready for the new workload that awaits them.

Giving your child the opportunity of tutoring at regular intervals throughout the holiday (even for as little as 1 lesson per week), will provide just enough structure to help your child keep their focus on academics, as well as ease the transition back into the new term.

  1. It allows time to go back to the basics

All subjects, particularly Maths and Science have basic building blocks. I recall from my own Maths struggles at school, as soon as you’ve missed a set of basics, it is nearly impossible to make sense of anything that comes after that!

Whether your child has missed a few days of school, or has had little understanding up to a point, holidays are a great time to catch up on concepts and fill in the gaps. Once the new term commences, there will then be even more new work to get to grips with.

3. It gives learners the time they need to process information

Without the pressure of class tests and assessments constantly creeping up on them, the break allows learners to feel as though they have the time to spend fully grasping various concepts.

Additionally, because children are generally more relaxed in the holidays, they retain more information and have time to process it before moving right onto something new, as is most often the case at school.

  1. It allows learning to happen at the BEST time

Extra lessons normally take place after a full day at school, when very often a learner is already so drained that all they want to do is something mindless such as kicking a ball or watching TV. There are unfortunately only so many hours in a day, especially during the term, which makes it difficult to schedule tutoring at any other time, but that’s what makes the holidays such an ideal time for tutoring! Learners can have lessons in the morning when minds are fresh and able to process and retain new information, much more effectively. 

  1. It helps to alleviate test and exam anxietyStudy Skills Crash Course

Most people have some degree of test-related anxiety, often due to feeling unprepared. Tests make up a large part of a learner’s grade, and it is therefore essential that they can perform in this area. A holiday tutor can use the time to not only help your child prepare for future tests and exams, but also to improve on study skills. BrightSparkz also offers a unique “Study Skills Crash Course”, designed specifically for our learners in order to highlight the most important tips and advice for each learner’s individual learning style. This one is not to be missed!

  1. It lightens a parent’s load

While children seem to spend more time on holiday than they do at school, parents most often still need to be at work all year round. When your child is sent home with holiday homework and assignments, it can be a challenge finding time to help them get this done.

Thank goodness for tutors, who can not only make sure that the holiday work is completed, but also that your child understands the content of the work. It’s a no-brainer! 

  1. It is a time to re-evaluate and set new goals

Tutors are great motivators who inspire and encourage their learners to constantly try to achieve better results. Why not make the most of the accountability relationship your child develops with a tutor and allow them to spend time together in the holidays, not only for the sake of working on school material, but to help them set academic goals for the new term and keep them motivated? This allows your child to start the new term feeling inspired and driven to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.

  1. It teaches learners to step-up to challenges

Holiday tutoring is not mandatory, so learners who spend a bit of extra time on their academics during the holidays are learning the value of taking charge and responsibility, as opposed to being a victim of their academic struggles. This is also an opportunity to improve on average marks and put in the time to push for that distinction. This is of great importance for Grade 11 and 12 learners who desire a place in a tertiary institution or course of choice.

Holiday tutoring instils discipline, and teaches the value of doing what others won’t, to achieve what others don’t. There is no doubt that learners will see the positive outcomes of their hard work when returning to school with a greater confidence and understanding, even before they see the fruits when they receive their first tests back!

Myth Busters!

Many parents may assume that it is only necessary to make use of a tutor if their child is struggling, and some even wait until the child has already failed before seeking the help of a tutor. However, tutoring is extremely beneficial to every kind of child – whether they are a failing student desperate to pass, or an average one chasing distinctions.

“Research suggests that 1 hour, 2 – 3 times per week is an effective way of helping children catch up, maintain or even excel in their academics, especially if they are given one-on-one input. This is the best way to ensure they get the most out of their education”.

 How BrightSparkz can help you 

  • Private Tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home, or at a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through the explanation of basic concepts, practising concept application, revision of theory, and interactive discussion.

Contact us about our holiday tutors today!

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are hand-picked by our experienced team of consultants. based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent subject knowledge, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential! Get a tutor today!

 

  • BrightSparkz Mobile Maths & Science (Maths & Science App)

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths & Science App tailored to South African learners from Grades 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB syllabi. The platform provides top quality resources broken up into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons as it’s something they have unlimited access to, once registered for just R499 for the year. Get your 7-day fee trial here!

  • Study Skills Crash Course!

BrightSparkz Tutors now has its own Educoach, Lauren, who runs a tailored one-on-one Study Skills Crash Course, comprising 2 x 1 hour sessions, and based on each learner’s individual learning styles. Lauren has over 10 years in the education industry, having taught a variety of subjects and grades to learners of varying capability. This is a hugely valuable service that we encourage all parents to sign their children up for – and holidays are the perfect time! For more information or to book, click here or contact edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

If a holiday tutor sounds like just what you need, BrightSparkz Tutors can help. Take advantage of our Holiday Tutoring Promotion (15% off any 5 or 10 Classic Lesson Package – T&C’s apply) – Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right back to you!

Written By: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Tutor Of The Month: Mark Bessinger

 

Mark is our May 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Mark matriculated in 2011 with outstanding results, including 2 distinctions. He is currently a 6th year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Pretoria, and after having been awarded a bursary, he plans to work for Eskom once he has completed his studies. He is one of our one of our highly recommended tutors, having worked with many learners. Mark has a passion for teaching and it is still something he considers as a possible career, having thoroughly enjoyed his experience in tutoring so far.

His advice for students is to “work hard and work smart while keeping a positive attitude”.

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.

Before You Break! Why Study Breaks Are Important

The Benefits of Study Breaks and How to Use Them Effectively

When faced with looming exams, it can often be a student’s first instinct to cram, pull all-nighters, or study for long periods of time uninterrupted. While this may work for a few students, studies find that studying without regular breaks can actually decrease academic performance and results. In addition, it can lead to anxiety, depression and insomnia! Research suggests that short mental breaks, doing something completely different, will actually help you to focus. Study breaks can improve retention and understanding over longer periods, as well as relax your mind.

Making study breaks successful

• Make a note of where you are stopping
• Set a time limit to your break, and stick to it
• Change your scenery
• Know yourself, and don’t start any activity that you could easily get lost in
• Get back to work as soon as your break ends, without stressing about how much there is left to do or procrastinating

What not to do in a study break

• Update your Facebook
• Phone or message a friend
• Anything to do with the subject you’re studying
• Start a new series
• The same thing you did in your last break!

What to do instead

• Exercise: take a walk, kick a ball around, or dance to your favourite song
• Meditate
• Nap for 10-20 minutes (any longer and you’ll just feel drowsy!)
• Make a (healthy) snack
• Read a book or magazine

How can BrightSparkz help?

Ask your tutor to help you plan your study timetable, as well as advice on what study methods you should use based on your Learning Styles Assessment. If you need extra lessons to help cement in some of the concepts you need to know for your exams, either contact your tutor, or get in touch with your BrightSparkz office to book extra lessons today (email Cape Town or Joburg). If you’re totally at a loss for how to study, book a Study Skills Crash Course with our Educoach! Click here to find out more.

Written By: Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Surviving the NBTs: What you need to know

What you need to know about the National Benchmark Tests

The National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) are South Africa’s version of the SAT’s. These tests determine your academic readiness to enter university. The NBTs are necessary because of the variety of school curricula in South Africa, as well as the differences in the level of education provided country-wide. These tests therefore provide an even playing field – a national benchmark against which to score students. University admission and placement are determined by the NBTs.

There are two types of NBTs, and which test/s you need to take is determined by the university course you are applying for (most universities have this information available on their websites). The Academic and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) Test needs to be written by all applicants. The AQL tests language and mathematical literacy skills, and may be taken in both English and Afrikaans. The Mathematics (MAT) Test tests only mathematical skills. Both tests are multiple choice, and you will have 3 hours to write each test.

The National Benchmark Tests test your ability to apply prior knowledge in a way designed to test problem-solving and lateral thinking. The results will indicate your likelihood of being able to succeed academically at tertiary level. These results are sent directly to the university/universities you have applied to. As a result, you will only need to write one set of tests, even for multiple applications. For more information on what is in the tests, click here.

When do I need to write?

This will be determined by the date that the course you are applying for needs the results by (this will be on the university’s website). The NBT test schedule provides the date that each test’s results will be sent to the various universities. This normally takes about a month, so make sure you plan ahead!

Where can I write?

There are a variety of venues in each province that host the tests, as well as in most countries neighbouring South Africa. For a full list, please see venues. If you live in a remote location, you will need to apply to the NBT Project to have a venue set up near you, or you can apply to be a remote writer.

What are the costs involved?

To write one NBT costs R80. To write both (must be written on the same day) will cost R160. You can pay on the EasyPay website, or you can visit an EasyPay Paypoint (like Pick N Pay, Shoprite or Checkers). You will need to register for the NBTs before you can pay.

How can BrightSparkz Tutors help?

While no past or sample papers are available for the NBTs, and specific course material is not available, extra tutoring lessons in maths and languages can help you! If you want lessons specifically for this reason, please let your BrightSparkz client consultant know, so that they can find the best tutor for your needs. Find a tutor here.

If you live in a remote location, and need to write a remote test, BrightSparkz can also help you to find an invigilator to oversee your NBTs. Find an invigilator here.

 

Written By: Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

The Brains Behind BrightSparkz

“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.” 

It’s been 10 years since the humble beginnings of a few flyer handouts and informal tutor recruitment. As we celebrate our decade milestone, the brains behind BrightSparkz get personal – sharing some insights into running a business, their various challenges and achievements, as well as a snippet of what we can expect from BrightSparkz in the future. 


Amy Stockwell (Johannesburg)
“I completed a BSc. Physiotherapy degree before moving from Cape Town to Johannesburg at the end of 2006 to do my year of community service, while also planning the expansion of our Cape Town tutoring business to Gauteng. In 2009 I completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management through the Wits Business School, and quickly realised that business was my passion. In 2011, I stopped practicing physiotherapy, got married and started dedicating all my time to BrightSparkz Tutors. Our family grew in May 2015 when we were blessed with our baby boy, so my time is currently best spent on being a mom and supportive wife to my husband, who is a competitive cyclist and mountain biker. When I get time of my own, I enjoy running 10km and 21km races.”


Dominique Oebell (Cape Town)
“I completed a BSc. Physiotherapy at UCT in 2006, and worked part-time as a physiotherapist while we were establishing BrightSparkz Tutors. In 2013, I obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at the UCT Graduate School of Business, and while it was initially Physiotherapy that developed a lot of empathy in me and a passion to make a difference, I believe that its entrepreneurship and education that can really improve people’s lives. In my free time I love spending time at the beach, walking my dogs, and reading books that inspire me to be a better person. My faith life is also really important to me, and that keeps me centered when things get stressful!”


Q1: Where did you get the idea from to start a tutoring company and what took it from an idea to an actual business? (What was your greatest motivation to get started?)

I started tutoring in primary school and continued into my university years. In third year I was unable to take on more learners, but still tried to help to find suitable tutors for parents who contacted me. This is where the idea was born. After some research, we realised that there wasn’t much out there in terms of home based one-on-one tutoring, and that parents really needed this type of service.  AS

Q2: What would you say to people who aren’t fired up about what they’re doing or studying?

I would advise them to not settle on that career (although sometimes it is wise to learn what you can from a field and to use it to your advantage in a transition period), and to keep exposing themselves to different job environments or fields, to discover what makes them tick. Once they have discovered this, to start meeting people and growing their network of individuals who operate in these fields or environments. This is a great way to learn more about a field, but also to be made aware of new job or business opportunities that arise within those fields.  DO

Q3: What advice would you give people who have or are thinking about starting a business?

Starting a business is the easy part. Maintaining it and “finishing” well is the hard part! Knowing why you want to start a business is key. Many experts in a field assume the logical next step is to start their own company but what they don’t realise is that the skills that make them a great employee are not the same skills that will make them a great entrepreneur. They start with great enthusiasm, with ideas of being their own boss and having their own time, only to realise that often the initial investment of time and energy (and money) can be much greater than expected.

Knowing what your customers needs are, as well as how many players are already in the market, is also critical. It doesn’t matter how well you bake bread – if no one is needing home-baked bread, or there are already 5 people baking bread in your community, your business will fail (unless you can provide something that no one else is, that your customers are needing, of course!).  DO

Q4: The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years, particularly in the area of technology. What is BS doing to leverage the technology we have available to us to better serve and educate learners?

It definitely has! BrightSparkz started using a very manual system until we knew exactly what our needs were, and had our first custom system built in 2011. This is something we are in the process of upgrading, and have also been developing a mobile responsive system that we are currently rolling out with our tutors, and will extend to clients later in the year.

We also introduced BrightSparkz Mobile Maths and Science in 2014, which is a platform that allows learners to access user friendly resources via their PC, tablet, or smartphone. The program caters for both CAPS and IEB learners, by dividing the Maths, Physical Science, and Natural Sciences curricula into comprehensive sections. It’s a great tool to help children and their tutor work through and consolidate the Maths and / or Science syllabus for the year, especially in preparation for tests and exams.

One of our missions is to automate as much as we can without taking away the personal touch from our service, as this is something that is still extremely important to us.  AS

Q5: Do you think the gradual move to online education and self-education is a positive one? Is BS responding to this transition is any way?

There are pro’s and con’s to every change in society, but we have never before had access to so much information as we do in the digital era, and that opens up opportunities for learning to many more people. One can learn anything without traditional limitations of space, time, and money. That said, there is still incredible value in face-to-face time with a tutor/teacher/facilitator, and there seems to be a higher level of accountability in face-to-face or blending learning environments. I think the challenge for online education service providers still lies in how to motivate individuals effectively, specifically children and teenagers. 

We are currently positioning ourselves in such a way that we are able to grow with the changes that are changing the landscape of extra-curricular educational services. Online tutoring via Skype is something we already offer, as well as additional tools such as online whiteboards and learning platforms are just a few of our tech plans for future. However, we believe strongly in a blended learning approach, and will always incorporate the human element into our service offerings regardless of how the tech landscape changes, as we believe this is still what our customers are wanting.  DO

Q6: What have been some of the greatest challenges, and greatest achievements over the past 10 years?

Persevering with this business has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life! There have been so many times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and trade it in for a job! But after a good cry and a pep-talk from my family, I determine what needs to change and I keep at it. Being able to celebrate our 10-year anniversary is a huge milestone for us! We have learnt many lessons and have experienced many setbacks, yet I’m proud of the excellent service standards we maintain and of our current team of staff who work really hard to attain this. We’ve had many challenges in the areas of staffing, navigating company restructuring, and in getting our business processes up to speed with competitors who use more sophisticated technology. In some areas, we’ve had to work really hard to catch up and although we have not yet “arrived”, our hard work is paying off and we’ve been able to secure contracts with larger educational institutions, publishers and even film production companies.  DO

Q7: How is BS trying to intentionally deal with the challenges faced by South African learners?

One of our primary goals is to eventually make tutoring accessible to as many South African learners as possible, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Part of our planning this year is to officially launch our corporate sponsorship program, in order to extend our reach in this regard. We have previously worked with numerous foundations who assist in identifying learners showing potential and who would otherwise not be able to afford assistance. This is something we are extremely excited and passionate about, and look forward to partnering with organizations who value education as the key to the future, as much as we do.  AS

 

“No one can be sure of what changes, big or small, lie ahead. One thing is certain, our journey is not over.”

 

Interested in one-on-one tutoring in the comfort of your own home? We can make that happen for you! Feel free to get in touch with us here.

 

Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer