Parent Zone

What Parents Are saying about Excell3’s Apex Universities Programme?

Mike and Joanne are the parents of Eden Cook Watson who joined the Apex Universities programme in 2013. Eden has participated in a series of specialised workshops while on the programme to include our GCSE Master Class (with Dr. Chris Imafidon) and our Year 12 day at the University of Nottingham. Eden attained  5A*s, 8A’s and 1B grade in his GCSE subjects and is currently a student at the University of Leicester, where he is studying Biological Sciences. In their joint article below, Mike and Joanne share tips for creating a “Positive Learning Environment” for your child at home. Eden matriculated into Leicester University in 2016.

Both parents were the first and only members of our families to go to university and we’re determined that attendance at a good university be an option for our son.  To do this we have to support our son at home and rely on the school to engage and motivate him in class and equip him with the skills to succeed in his academic career.

As part of this the school recommended our son attend The Apex Programme. Our general approach has been to interest our son in learning; not pushing specific subjects with a view to achieve particular careers, but encouraging enjoyment in his subjects.  Our advice has always been that succeeding in exams will increase choice of options in the future. We have an active partnership with the school and encourage him to take up opportunities including:

*School away days

*Sessions for gifted and talented pupils

Taking advantage of school links with London Universities e.g. science in healthcare at Imperial and of course an introduction to the Apex Programme.

There are a number of ways we’ve helped our son succeed.


Disorder and lack of planning are a sure fire way to fail.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” rings true.  This has been the hardest issue to tackle with a teenage boy whose default setting is chaos.  Help your child organise their room, give then a clear space to work in and encourage them to study in regular bursts with short breaks to aid retention and defeat boredom.  Keep at it.  Slips back into chaos are frequent.

Screen Time

Social media is an enemy of revision.  Revising with tablet or phone as a companion is a recipe for distraction.  Material from friends, YouTube or Facebook will be more interesting than the subject at hand.  Screens also disrupt sleep patterns

if used throughout the night.  Consider disabling your internet in the late evenings to prevent this.


Continue to emphasise that your child can achieve what they set their heart on given the appropriate effort.  Set targets for your child and reward them if they’re met.  These don’t have to be large, rewards such as a take away or cinema tickets will be well received.  Continue to emphasise impact on the choice of future options that good results will enable.


Ensure your child eats healthily and regularly.  A hungry brain or one fed on sugary snacks will not stay alert and will be prone to peaks and troughs of energy.

And finally be a good influence and role model.  Practice what you preach.

The Apex programme has helped our son consider and discuss the issues above. It has run sessions that have enabled our son to meet pupils from across the UK, who are from different backgrounds and reinforced the notion that he can achieve anything he dreams of given the appropriate level of effort and support.  He returns from these sessions enthusiastic and empowered.  We will certainly continue to take advantage of any future sessions that the programme will be offering.

Louise McKenna’s daughter Katie McKenna joined the Apex Universities Programme in 2013. Louise has been extremely supportive of her daughter’s involvement with Apex and below describes the impact on both Katie and herself

Background: Louise McKenna supported her daughter’s application for Excell3’s Apex Universities Programme in May 2013.

Prior to joining the Apex Universities Programme Mrs. McKenna had some concerns about Katie academically as she was at an age where she could easily be distracted.  She was therefore pleased when Katie was accepted on to the programme.

For personal family reasons, she was unable to attend the orientation event for both Parents and Students at the University of Oxford in May 2013 but sent her daughter Katie down from Chesterfield where they reside via train.

Travelling via train to Apex events has become a regular routine for Katie and given that events are held all across the country, this often times requires her to get up very early to travel from Chesterfield.

She has on occasion even encountered Apex Programme staff on cross country morning train commutes to various university events.

After attending the orientation event at the University of Oxford Katie according to her mother Louise was raving about the day and described it as “Brilliant” and “Wonderful.” Since the initial orientation event, Ms. McKenna says she has observed a renewed sense of optimism in Katie especially in the area of Maths, which has always been a problem area for her.

Katie attended our GCSE Review at the University of Cambridge in February 2014 which is facilitated by experts in both English and Math’s. At this all day event, she met world famous educator Dr. Chris Imafidon and left completely inspired.

She attended a subsequent Math review session with Dr. Imafidon, which was arranged at the request of students on the programme at the Library of Birmingham and has since gone on to achieve a B in Math’s which was a major accomplishment given her history with the subject.

According to Mrs. McKenna, the school that Katie Attended when she joined the Apex Universities Programme never mentioned the prospect of their students attending Oxbridge and Katie as a result had her sights set on a university near Chesterfield where they lived. Manchester University was going to be her most likely choice.

Katie also served as a “Co-Chair” for Excell3’s Parent’s Conference “Education, Success, Nothing Less” held on October 25th 2014. She had the pleasure of both introducing and interviewing world renowned individuals in their chosen fields and managing the day’s events. The event was attended by parents and their children from Birmingham and other parts of the country along with specialist in the field of education. Katie attended this event with her mother Mrs. McKenna.

All in all, Mrs. McKenna has been impressed with the programme and Excell3’s staff. She says Excell3’s Apex Universities Programme “Gives people like Katie extra help to get to university.” Katie she says otherwise “would never have found herself to Cambridge and Oxford.”

Having now been on the Apex Universities Programme, she has become particularly impressed with the University of Oxford and is now seriously contemplating applying.

For Mrs. McKenna’s part, she says that Katie’s involvement with the Apex Universities Programme has been extremely motivating for her.

The programme has provided her with opportunities to attend specialised workshops at both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge and she has met people who share similar academic aspirations as herself and who “want to get on.”

From an aspirational viewpoint, she says Katie now realises after visits to the aforementioned universities “This is what you could have” and that the Apex Universities Programme is a “really good thing.”

Suen Wong (Mother of Apex Student Chloe Wong)

Suen Wong agreed to support her daughter Chloe’s application for Excell3’s Apex Universities Programme in 2013. Ms. Wong who is originally from Hong Kong was keen for her daughter to receive the support of the Apex Universities Programme as she did not fully understand the nuances of the UK Higher Education system and while her daughter Chloe was high achieving did not feel her school could offer her the full support that the Apex Universities Programme would.

Ms. Wong attended the orientation event for the programme in May, 2013 at The University Club, The University of Oxford along with the parents of 45 other students from across the country who were accepted on the programme.

At this event, she was informed of what constitutes a “Russell Group University” and also what their general entry requirements are. She was also provided with practical advice on what “super curricular” activities students can engage in, in order to enhance their application for colleges at The University of Oxford.

Since May, 2013, Ms. Wong has been a champion of the Apex Universities Programme and her daughter has attended practically every workshop we have delivered since to include:

a)  Year 11 GCSE “Intensive Review” (Maths/English) with world renowned Maths Tutor Dr. Chris Imafidon (February/April 2014) @ Trinity College, The University of Cambridge & The Library of Birmingham

b) Year 12 al day workshop for Year 12 students @ Trinity College, The University of Cambridge (Feb 2014)

c) Year 13 “1 Day Speed Reading” course at Jesus College, The University of Cambridge, February 2015

d) Year 12 Workshop Day @ The University of Nottingham (June 19th 2015)

e) Year 13 STEM Subjects Workshop @ The London School of Economics (February 2016)

In addition to this, she also agreed for her daughter to serve in an Ambassadorial capacity for the Apex Universities Programme. To this end, Chloe delivered an inspirational address to new students who were joining the programme and their parents in August 2014 at The Said Business School, The University of Oxford.

In her own words, Mrs. Wong said the following about The Apex Universities Programme:

“This course has helped me gain knowledge and understanding of the steps that are required to take towards university and it has also helped me motivate my daughter in her studies, giving her the necessary support as well as independence. It has also given me insight into university life which has helped me prepare my daughter for it.

It has benefitted my daughter by motivating her to work harder, improving her revision techniques and expanding her knowledge of different universities and etc. Since this course she has taken a more proactive part in searching for courses in different universities.”

Chloe continues to be a part of the programme and we are delighted to have her serve as one of its champions.

She has to date achieved 17 GCSE’s and A Levels passes in the following subjects:

-       Maths

-       Physics

-       Biology

-       Chemistry

-       Psychology