By: Sara R. Schmidt, Global Team Lead, Bennett International Education Consultancy
We at Bennett have a unique relationship with relocating families and get to hear about their precious children and their worries about schooling. They are reticent to talk about them to some, but being from the school world, we are used to it and lucky to gain a natural rapport with them.
"What about our kids? How will they get on in their new school? How do we find the right school for them? How can we assume that they get a seat?"
With the pandemic, parents' concerns are heightened, relocating families are confronting even more unknowns and greater uncertainty when it comes to a school placement.
Here are some commonly asked questions from parents, some suggestions from the Bennett team and how we have adapted our services in the field.
How do we manage a "virtual" school visit?
Understandably you will miss the opportunity to walk the school property, meet and greet teachers, speak with administrators and see the kids on the soccer pitch. Start by asking yourselves what schools in the past best suited you. A robust language program? Music program? Math program? STEM program and the like? Schools are offering clever options for virtual tours, open houses and conversations with current parents and staff. Please take advantage of any and all you can. Bring your kid. It will not be time wasted. Come prepared to these e-meetings with questions to ask based on your child's personal school history and reflections.
How do we deal with uncertain relocation timing in finding the right school?
Stay in touch with the school your child has left. Maintain a relationship, reassuring the school that you may reenroll. Be forthright. Any school you are interested in, and that is interested in you, will work with you. Let them know your situation and keep in touch. A good rule of thumb under any circumstance is to maintain home country language
How do we navigate through a highly competitive private school landscape online?
Expand your list of schools, especially the ones with rolling admissions these days. Submit additional applications and consider charter or magnet schools that may have chance openings.
Keep in mind that schools are changing their entrance exam requirements practically by the day. Do not be shy about keeping on top of them. They will be happy to know you are enthusiastic about enrolling your children in their school.
Here is an anecdote from a file that came across our desk recently:
“Help! My kids have seats at a school in Tokyo, but we cannot get a visa to enter the country. Will the school give away the spots? While we wait, my high school daughter is falling behind in the world language that she will need to join the IB curriculum in Tokyo."
Our expert consultant listened to the family, reassured them and guided them on the best way to manage their school concerns. She coached them to stay in touch with the school in Tokyo; to remind the school that they like it there and plan to enroll as soon as possible. In the meantime, our consultant found reputable language programs, so that their high schooler will be on track when she joins her IB school in Japan. With our education counseling and the family’s cooperation the plan bore fruit. They are now on assignment in Japan with their kids enrolled in their first-choice school.
Times are topsy turvy. Mind the children and their schooling. To take good care of your employees, we urge you to find a reputable education expert (we would be happy to recommend some) to help families uncover the right school for their kids, ensuring a continuous, meaningful education. If the school fits, the children will thrive and the family will be happy, two essential ingredients for a successful assignment.
Bennett International Education Consultancy helps companies retain valued talent by guiding relocating employees to the best-fit schools for their children and supporting them with long-range education planning. Bennett was founded in 1991 and is a certified, women-owned business with global offices and a team of over 70 consultants around the world. Bennett has served thousands of families and hundreds of corporate clients. It is the recognized industry specialist in education advisement and in customized consulting services for corporations with relocating personnel. In addition to education placement our Education Research and Analysis team provides customized consulting on education policy writing and benchmarking tuition studies, group move advisement and planning, education “site assessments,” and the creation of difficult location education solutions. We invite you to be in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org https://oasiscorporatehousing.com/
About the Author
Sara R. Schmidt
Global Team Lead, Bennett International Education Consultancy
Sara R. Schmidt is a Global Team Lead with Bennett International overseeing all client engagements in the Western U.S. and throughout Asia Pacific. A former teacher at international schools in the Dominican Republic and Chile, Sara also held roles as Planning Director, Director of Development and Area Manager at NGOs in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Houston and Dallas. A veteran of corporate relocations, Sara has navigated the school search process for her own children on three continents, finding the right fit for them in public, private and international schools. She is Past President of the Bellevue Schools Foundation in Bellevue, WA. Sara is a member of Puget Sound Relocation Council and Bay Area Mobility Management. She holds a B.A. Ed., Summa Cum Laude, from Wheaton College and an M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and is also fluent in Spanish.