Education and Lifestyle Consultancy


Could you explain a bit about Panoba and its services?

Nicky Sakpoba: We’re an education and lifestyle consultancy (www.panoba.co.uk) that specialises in offering a bespoke and tailored service to international families in several areas, but with education at our core.

Debbie Gispan: I’d returned to the UK from living in Africa and realised that there was a distinct gap in the market for overseas families who needed access to services in the UK. The business was started in response to this and designed to offer a ‘handholding’ service to assist our clients in finding the right school for their child and in navigating the complexities of the UK school admissions process.

Who are your clients from Asia?

DG: Busy, busy people

NS: Indeed, the Mainland China and Hong Kong market is such an interesting market and we are pleased to see that business is picking up again as the world opens up after the Pandemic. Our clientele are a mix of local families from Mainland China and Hong Kong as well as ex-pat families from across the region. On occasion we have also been asked to partner with other local education companies who like to work with us for our expertise, which enables them to offer their clients a very bespoke and high level service. But what our clientele all have in common is that they are extremely busy families who need advice on the best educational pathways for their children in the UK.

DG: Of course there are already many excellent British Curriculum schools established throughout Asia, but clients have different reasons for choosing to move their children to boarding schools in the UK. This may be British ex-pats who studied in the UK themselves and want the same experience for their children, Asian clients who send their children to the UK at Sixth Form to prepare them for life and University in the UK or US, or clients who simply want their children to benefit from the independence and traditions of a British boarding school.

NS: The UK education systems can be complicated for someone who wasn’t raised in Britain or doesn’t currently reside here, which is why we hold our clients’ hands from start to finish. Our clients appreciate the fact that we’re based in the UK with access to an extensive network of top-performing UK schools, which gives parents the widest possible choice when it comes to making the right choice.

DG: Our involvement can be as far-reaching as our clients like, from the initial registration to exam preparation and accompanying families on school visits. Understandably, parents expect and demand the highest levels of discretion and customer service when it comes to their children and we never fail to deliver.


  • How important is the Asian market?

DG: We recognise Asia as a strong market and that relationships are flourishing between the UK and countries in the region. For UK boarding schools, welcoming students from across Asia is a very important part of their school community. Asian students are studious, well behaved, disciplined, hard working and keen to participate in all aspects of school life.

NS: British education is still seen as a world class leader and UK schools are keen to recruit students from around the world to extend all that they have to offer. Equally important is the positive dynamic that international students bring to British boarding schools.

  • How does your tutoring service work?

NS: There are many times during the education pathway when tutoring might be required. Either before children start school for entrance exams or at times when facing a particular challenge. As with all our services, the tutoring we offer is completely bespoke and tailored to the needs of the individual.

DG: Rest assured that we only work with the best tutors as we know the value of mentoring and inspiring your child. Whatever the child’s needs, Panoba can be trusted to deliver the best organised and well managed plan. We have found tutors abroad for a summer holiday period or someone to support the child in their own home.

  • What challenges do you face in meeting the expectations of parents?

DG: Deciding to choose a British Boarding School for your child can be one of the biggest decisions a parent will make and it is not only a big decision to find the right school but also to prepare for a new family dynamic of being separated and how you will still be able to care and be in touch with your child.

NS: These are the types of concerns and questions which our clients often raise with us and which we as educational consultants are only too used to addressing. Boarding schools aren’t a choice for everyone, but British boarding schools have always prided themselves on offering a top all-round and unrivalled education world over, along with the highest standards of pastoral care. British independent boarding schools are synonymous with tradition, excellence and the best start in life money can buy.

DG: The initial challenge is when to start looking for schools and our advice is always to start early! We have often taken calls from families a couple of months before they want their child to start school in the UK and while it is not impossible to find a place at such short notice, it certainly does limit options and availability.

NS: Further challenges are often trying to meet all of the criteria that parents are looking for, although of course we relish the challenge! So when we work with families, we try to get a very in-depth understanding of their individual requirements. Criteria such as preferred location, co-ed versus single sex, rural or urban, religious or non-denominational, distance from London and access to airports, are all important to establish early on.

  • Is there any other information you would like to share?

DG: Our relationship with many of our clients stems from their need for educational consultancy, but we felt that our service to a family shouldn’t end once a school place is secured. We pride ourselves on following up on the child’s progress and families often retain our services in an academic guardian capacity. This involves overseeing the child’s academic development, attending parent evenings and liaising with staff on the family’s behalf, especially when they can’t attend in person.

NS: There are many UK schools with excellent provision for a wide range of special educational needs, some of which also have full boarding facilities. With the bespoke service we offer, this is another area of education where we can support and assist parents with making an informed choice of school for their child.

DG: with well over 500 independent British boarding schools to choose from and with so many facets to a school search, its essential that the final choice is right. Here are some top tips Panoba can share with parents:

Do:  Come into the process with an open-mind and be prepared to look at a number of schools to really get a feel for what will be the right fit for your son or daughter.

Do:  Ensure that you give as much information to the agent or school about your child so that you can get the best and most suitable choices available.

Do: Start early. At least one year ahead of the entry year. Allow plenty of time for visiting schools on open days and understanding all that they have to offer. Be mindful that for some of the high achieving academic schools, tests are taken 3 years in before the year of entry.

Don't: just go by league tables and exam results to choose a school. A school has so much more to offer than the classroom and a happy and successful student at a British boarding school doesn’t just leave with good grades but with a whole set of skills for life which are just as vital for a successful future.

Don't: presume that all UK Schools have the same entry criteria and processes. They can vary widely and that’s where taking an agent to guide you can be most beneficial.

Don't: assume that a School that is top 10 on the League Tables or that you’ve heard about from a friend will be the right school for your child. The beauty of children is that they are all different and all have different needs and interests, so take the time to find the right school to ensure your child can get the most out of their British Education… which will get them on the right path for a successful future and career.

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