Education Consultants – useful for relocating families?

Karin Purcell, development director, at Marymount International School, discusses using education consultants to find the right schools for relocating families.

Karin Purcell, development director, at Marymount International School, discusses using education consultants to find the right schools for relocating families. Undoubtedly relocating families are forced to deal with huge upheaval: finding a new home, a new school, organising the move, dealing with the pain of saying goodbye, not to mention the mountains of administrative work associated with relocating.In an ideal world this would all be done in a timely, well-considered manner where everything can be organised systematically. In many cases, families are fortunate enough to find support from their employer’s HR department who are able to offer access to reliable relocation agents. Furthermore, most large, multinational companies (or their affiliated relocation agents) can call on the services of a trustworthy, experienced education consultant to assist with the process of finding a school.However, time and again, our admissions office at Marymount International School takes calls and visits from parents, new to the country, who are seemingly left to their own devices struggling to understand the various school systems available in the UK and battling to make informed choices. They are often placed under impossible time constraints, juggling a difficult diary whilst needing to make a wide range of critical, on-the-spot decisions. Here a competent education consultant could make the world of difference and transform the process for the entire family.In our experience the most successful placements occur when referrals are made by consultants who are able to:
  • Give detailed and informed advice regarding the curricula available in the UK (GCSEs, A-levels, International Baccalaureate) to those seeking a school in the UK.
  • Show some understanding of the “fit” between the original school system of the relocating student and the system in the destination country.
  • Have a sense of cultural differences and nuances when it comes to parents’ expectations of schools.
  • Have a good understanding of the schools which are being recommended. In an ideal world, they should have visited the school and met the Head.
  • Understand the importance of creating a good match between the school and the student which ensures a successful placement and a stress-free experience for both the family and the school.
  • Show an interest in the prospective student as well as the schools they recommend and keep abreast with new developments.
Where parents are relocating independently and need to rely on their own resources, this becomes a little more difficult. A quick search on the internet shows a plethora of agents attempting to attract business where there is no means of checking the quality of their services. This leaves only the reputable operators listed with the ARP (Association of Relocation Professionals) who are able to recommend highly professional and trustworthy consultants.Additionally, the market is flooded with school directories and guides such as the John Catt, Metropolis and Good Schools Guide. These can be very helpful and, if a parent has the time to plough through these options, the outcome can be highly satisfactory. Magazines such as Re:locate (and its online version) also offer a wide range of excellent advice for those who need to make their own way.It is worth remembering that only a happy child (well-matched to his or her school) can learn and thrive. Getting it right is imperative and, wherever possible, the best advice should always be sought from reputable and experienced sources. There is nothing more rewarding and satisfying for both the school and the relocating family as a motivated and positive child who quickly settles down and thrives in their new environment.Visit Marymount International School here