If you’re relocating an employee for work, it’s very likely you’ll be heavily involved in the process – helping organise the move and then supporting that individual throughout.
But what if they’re taking their family with them to their new post – moving to another part of the country or even halfway across the world?
There are numerous aspects of relocation to consider – like finding a new home, sorting out visas and insurance for the whole family, and making sure your colleague has plenty of background information about the area they’re moving to. And then there are the children.
Sourcing a new school and helping them settle in will usually be right at the top of the list of considerations – certainly for the parents. And the importance of choosing the right school and keeping people informed whilst planning a relocation cannot be underestimated. Continuing to support them during and after their move is also crucial.
Schools operate in a whole spectrum of ways, depending on the country – or even the Local Education Authority. For example, in the UK, children start school at four or five years old and must continue to study in some way until they are at least 18.
In France, they begin formally at six. In the US, school starts with Kindergarten at five but youngsters can range from 17 to 19 by the time they graduate in 12th grade.
The subjects, courses and activities they take part in varies greatly depending on country and region.
Abroad, some families prefer to use international schools where there may be other children who have moved in similar circumstances. In many cases though, young students must adjust to their new settings alongside peers of different nationalities and cultures.
The UK Government’s advice about education abroad is clear that what is right for one child is not necessarily right for another – and age and ability should affect their parents’ decision.
If an employee is posted to an English speaking country, their child may attend the local state school – though some do still charge. The English national curriculum will not be available, but every system has its owns strengths which may more than compensate.
Moving to a country whose mother-tongue is not English is less straightforward. Children will need to have a real interest in languages if they are to thrive in a school which doesn’t teach in English. The opportunity to be educated in a different system and culture, though, can have tremendous advantages. Again, depending on the child.
There are many other things to consider. Some schools require copies of a child’s immunisation certificates – whilst others will want to see a birth certificate or passport with a certified translation in the language of the host country.
Moving abroad is not a straightforward process. It involves a whole host of logistical and emotional processes. The most successful relocations occur where all those involved work closely on both planning and implementation.
It’s crucial that employees – and their children – feel informed and comfortable before, during and after swapping their current home for an exciting new challenge overseas or elsewhere in the UK. Getting it just right could pave the way to a productive and successful posting, and provide an excellent opportunity to maintain or increase your business presence in another corner of the world.
Top tips for sourcing a school abroad
- Decide on whether the child should be taught in English or the language of the host country – and source the school accordingly.
- Research the curriculum. Does it match the child’s strengths and interests?
- How close is the school to the child’s new home – and to their parent’s place of work?
- Is there a need for after-school childcare? If so, can this be provided at – or close to -the preferred school?
- Decide whether it’s important for there to be other English-speaking children at the school.
- Find out which documents are needed in order to enrol the child.
- When are term dates and holiday periods?
- Which qualifications will the child be working towards – and can they be transferred back in Britain?
- For longer-term relocations, where will the child progress to once they have completed their time at the chosen school? What type of further education is available nearby?
- Research the practicalities of getting the child to and from school. Are there buses available, can they walk – or will they be driven?
- Depending on the country, what sort of security measures are in place to keep children safe at the school?