Top tips for finding a school abroad
Starting or moving schools is always a big deal, no matter the student’s age or place of residence. Nevertheless, 21st century schools across the globe are geared towards geographic mobility and fluid student populations. However, finding the right school when your family’s next location is in a foreign land can be one of the biggest challenges of relocating successfully. Parents inevitably rely on local educational experts to provide them with detailed feedback on possible suitable matches as they seek the right match for their children and circumstances.
Prior to moving abroad, many parents prepare for the adventure by following these tips:
1. Use social media – especially Facebook
Parents moving into a new area check social media for firsthand information about the schools that they are interested in visiting for their children. Despite its reputation of being old-fashioned and twee, especially when compared to Instagram, the fact is, Facebook triumphs when it comes to peer-to-peer information sharing. It is a practical platform to navigate and has many private groups that deal specifically with the school or area that you are looking at.
Blogs (like this one in Steps into Spain 😉) are an invaluable source of online information where experts provide in depth information about family life, local customs, schooling habits, curriculums, after school activities, tutoring, mentoring, socializing and thriving in your new destination. It is never too early to start dreaming of living abroad with your family by dipping into overseas family lifestyle blogs to find out what you can expect from life as a parent abroad.
2. Contact local education authorities
Although the information they provide may be basic and sometimes only available in the official language of the land in which the schools are based, local education authority information packs are a good starting point for any parent wishing to get an overview of the options available for their children. Getting information about schools abroad from official sources ensures that the information is impartial, that the inspection details are transparent, and that all accreditation is available to consult.
3. Take virtual tours
One of the unexpected advantages of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the enthusiastic adoption of online methods to communicate with parents who are interested in enrolling their children at a school the following academic year. Many schools have virtual tours available on their website. Others offer online information sessions where parents interact live with teachers and admissions officers at schools with places available. These virtual sessions provide parents with a real feel of the school that they are “visiting” and are much welcomed. Local educational experts keep updated information on all admissions events that may be of interest to their clients so that none slip through the net.
4. Request lists of schools from local embassy
Apart from the accredited British schools overseas that are listed by country on the Department of Education’s website, the local embassy of the country that you are moving to will have a list of all the international schools in the area – including those which teach the local syllabus or those that follow American, Scandinavian or French systems. Please note, however, that no British Embassy can recommend a particular school and all are reliant on information being provided to them by the schools themselves.
5. Find a local educational expert
At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, there are many reasons why contacting a local educational expert is a sensible idea when seeking a school for your children overseas. Local educational experts have their ears to the ground. They know about deadlines and dates. They can help with paperwork. A local educational expert will have up to date, in depth information about all schools in their area. Syllabus and curriculum questions can be directed to them for comprehensive explanations. Tireless in their dedication to their clients, these experts not only provide an extra layer of confidence, but they also help save time along the way. When families approach me for support, they have taken into consideration all the costs involved in moving homes with children and have included fees for professional guidance in finding the right school in their budget.
No matter what stage of your journey into Spain with children you are at, I would love to hear from you. Get in touch today by email or follow this blog to get more tips and ideas.
Sinéad Galvin is an educational consultant and founded Steps into Spain (a boutique educational and relocation consultancy located in Madrid) to help families find the right school for their child in Madrid. She uses her professional and personal experience of Spanish schools, the Spanish education system and the Spanish way of life to ensure that parents are knowledgeable and informed about what to expect and can secure the best school for their child. A happy child is a happy parent!
Steps into Spain will take stock of your children’s educational needs and overall family requirements (housing, paperwork and general settling in). Our trusted and expert service is provided to families who are moving to Madrid from abroad. And also, to families who already live here and need some extra guidance and support.