A seamless transition: how moving schools can be a positive process

Moving a child to a new school, often in a different country, can be stressful for both the parents and child. From finding to right school to securing a place and settling your child, Nathaniel McCullagh, founder and managing director of Simply Learning Tuition, explains how to make the move to a new school a painless and positive experience.

A Seamless Transition
One of the most stressful parts of the relocation process can be finding and settling your child into a new school. Getting it wrong can have lasting consequences. The good news is that handled correctly, changing school is a rewarding experience that can add long-term value to your child’s education and well-being.In many cases, families enlist the help of a consultant to take them through the entire process, from finding the right school for their children to completing the application paperwork and preparing the child for interview. In some cases, this process may be supported by a period of one-to-one tutoring to build confidence and address areas of academic weakness.

Finding the right education consultant and tutor

If you are considering working with an education consultant, it is important to find one who completely understands your family. They should be independent (avoid those who only recommend the schools that pay them an introductory fee) and charges for their help should be proportional to the time spent. If all you need is a consultation and shortlist of schools, this should be no more than a few hours' work. If you want the full placement package of booking visits, introductions and accompanied school or university visits, the number of hours becomes substantial and an all-in package should be agreed. A good consultant will have expert knowledge of their particular level and it is unusual to find one consultant who is an expert at all education stages.The consultant will know about the school’s standing, forthcoming changes in staff, open days, entry deadlines and how to make the best application. Every school is different, most are oversubscribed and a more personal approach can often help to secure a place. Admissions tutors are highly skilled at spotting potential, but in most cases, we advise a course of lessons with a private tutor, to ensure the child is comfortable with the process and understands the type of questions they are likely to be asked.A friendly, professional tutor will work alongside the child’s school curriculum and represent a natural mentor and confidant. When choosing a tutor, it is important to check that he or she is familiar with your child’s curriculum. Do they have the in-depth subject-specific knowledge that is required and do they have a track record for getting children through the GCSEs, IB, A-Levels or other exams they are preparing for? Many families have particular requirements, in terms of the personality of the tutor, but also in terms of security, with enhanced background checks and confidentiality agreements. Unsurprisingly, suitably qualified tutors are in short supply.     

Relocation strategies

Families occasionally need to hold a child back for up to one year, until a place becomes available in their preferred school. This is particularly common for families transitioning from South Africa or Australia, where the academic school years are out of sync with other countries. Occasionally, relocations are made more complex because the child cannot attend a regular school due to an acute learning difficulty or behavioural issue. Anxiety and depression are also significant in their own right and need to be acted upon quickly. In these long-term cases, tutors can provide full-time homeschooling.For some families, ‘relocation’ can be very open-ended and a private tutor can be the only way to ensure continuity of education. We sent a tutor to travel with a family who was sailing around the world for one year. The tutor had to work in close confinement with the family; travelling on their small sailing boat with them. His great skill was to use the exotic locations to his advantage, applying what was going on in everyday life to the student’s learning.Other families choose a tutor to provide a deeply personalised learning experience; one that fits with their particular values and lifestyle. A family in Dubai asked us to introduce tutors to provide a bespoke education, chosen by the boys’ parents to reflect their wishes over and above the national curriculum. Dubai is strict on co-habitation outside of marriage and it was surprisingly difficult to find a tutor who would respect local customs and could commit to work with the family for a full 12 months.

Teaching life skills

The relocation period can also be a great opportunity to work on a child’s life skills - these might focus on strategies to help a child better cope with a Special Educational Need (SEN), organisational difficulties or simply a daily focus of building a Growth Mindset. We helped the daughter of a senior diplomat (aged 8) who had relocated to London with her father’s Embassy. The girl had undiagnosed special educational needs and was given lessons at home five days a week. These included a hefty dose of ‘life experience’ that included ordering in cafes and using the bus – neither of which she had been allowed to do previously. Schoolwork was brought to life by daily trips to the park, art galleries and museums. On one occasion, the tutor even went camping for the weekend with the girl and her parents; a not uncommon example of how relocation tutors also act as mentors, passing on valuable life skills.A good education consultant, backed by experienced tutors, can add tremendous value, turning a potentially stressful school move into an invigorating new start that increases confidence and helps the child to learn new skills. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Simply Learning Tuition if you would like our help with this process.
To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, London tuition agency and education consultancy, Simply Learning Tuition (SLT), have partnered with Shivia, a UK-registered charity working in north West India. Simply Learning Tuition Founder, Nathaniel McCullagh explains, “At SLT, we are firm believers that education goes beyond the classroom, and are proud to support a charity that develops life and business skills as well as the families using their additional income to better educate their children through private tuition.” For every family that registers with Simply Learning Tuition, they fund a private tutor for a child in rural West Bengal for an entire month.For over a decade, families have trusted Simply Learning Tuition to support and enrich their child’s education. From private tutors who are a cut above the rest, to placements at leading schools and universities, their expertise can benefit every stage of your child’s academic journey, ensuring they reach their academic goals and grow into confident, well-rounded young people. To find out more about SLT’s support of Shivia, go to: https://www.simplylearningtuition.co.uk/about-us/our-charities/shivia/.If you are interested in one of their services, please call Sophie on +44 (0) 20 7350 1981, or email: enquiries@simplylearningtuition.co.uk