School places 'biggest challenge' to relocating families

A new report from Knight Frank confirms that for families relocating around the world, finding the right school can be their biggest challenge.

children at an international school
As Relocate Global highlights in the new Guide to International Education & Schools, education can be the 'make or break' issue for relocatees, and the education options that a relocating family faces range from city to city and the application process from school to school, says Knight Frank in its latest Global Corporate Lettings Report 2015:In cities such as Hong Kong, where local schools are usually bypassed by foreign nationals due to the language barrier, places at primary school are coveted with many expats now putting their child's name down at birth. Petra Almond, Knight Frank's School Specialist in Hong Kong believes research, flexibility and compromise are critical for those relocating to the city, because she is aware of several cases where senior executives have turned down a relocation offer because of Hong Kong's limited school places.Different schools prioritise different criteria; a corporate debenture, a sibling already at the school, or in some cases the passport you hold can influence where you sit on the waiting list. Competition is less fierce at the secondary level because many expats in Hong Kong opt to send their children to boarding school in their home country at this stage.Although few other cities see the clamour for places that Hong Kong does, education is still a top priority for those relocating elsewhere.Unlike New York, in London a corporate tenant looking to educate their child in a state school needs to find a property first before applying for a school and it does not automatically follow that they will be offered the closest school to their new property.And unlike Hong Kong, London has no debenture system which means an employer, a US Bank for example, may provide an employee with a £20,000 allowance for their child to attend the city's American School but there is no right of entry conferred on the child as part of a corporate debenture. Similarly, if the child accesses a school with a lower fee the remaining allowance is forfeited.For fee-paying schools, Richard Northey of The Education Consultancy stresses the need to research your options and register early in London to maximise the chance of a place.Secondary school places for boys are currently in short supply with many having to sit pre-tests at 10-11 years of age for entry at 13+ which can be problematic for corporate tenants arriving in the city at short notice, which helps to explain the current level of demand for international schools.Don't miss Relocate Global's Guide to International Education & Schools 2015 which features comprehensive coverage of international schools across the world, organised by region and country, as well as expert advice on how to choose and apply for schools and universities, along with invaluable information about family support.  For more Re:locate news and features about education and schools, click hereTo read the full report from Knight Frank, click here