Key expat questions about education: what do international hires ask global mobility managers before departure?
by Edufax, on Aug 24, 2020 2:15:46 PM
When an international hire is about to embark on their cross-border journey, global mobility managers often have to answer a slew of so-called expat questions. If you're dealing with a family, parents will want to know more about education solutions and the international school system. It's important to be aware of differences in expectations. For example, the reputation of public schools varies from country to country: a family from China may feel very different about them than a family from the Netherlands. What qualifies a good school is particular to its location and governing bodies, among other things. This is why expat questions vary greatly.
As a global mobility manager, you can't possibly know everything about the international education system. You're in charge of multiple countries, and you support a range of families. But part of the global mobility process is being aware of expat questions about the children's education. That is why we've listed the most important ones for you in this blog post!
How does the schooling system work in the new country?
What does the global educational curriculum look like? How do parents enroll their child in a school? Sometimes, the city organizes it. Other times, there's a district office (which is the case in the U.S.). It can be difficult for families to figure out the schooling system, especially if they don't speak the language. Systems differ per country and per situation — for example, a local school and an international school have their own procedures that parents need to familiarize themselves with.
How do I know if a school is good?
Answering expat questions requires a substantiated approach. Expats usually bring a lot of talent and skills to the table, and they're not the type of people who will accept that a school is good 'because you say so.' They'll want to see data that corroborate this and know the criteria. Certain resources (such as Ofsted inspection reports for schools in the U.K.) make it easier for them to assess whether a school is objectively good.
How will an international school differ from the local school, and how will my child adjust?
There are a lot of differences between international and local schools, both culturally and in terms of curriculum. If a child is used to an international school, parents can be reluctant to opt for a local school, as it may be difficult for the child to fit in. The socio-emotional part plays a big role, and it can be useful to have an external expert (such as an educational mobility expert) provide independent advice.
My child has never followed education in English. Will there be help available?
Language is a very important factor for families moving across borders. Sometimes, a child may need to take a pre-departure language course. It's also important for parents to know if their child will receive language support once they're in school. Whether the options are good depends on the school they pick.
What kind of support will be available for a special needs child?
Even if a child has mild disabilities, this can be a huge concern for families. Special needs children usually rely on a structured environment, consistency, and a schedule. An international relocation can be a serious concern. But, depending on the countries involved, it can also be good for the child to move across borders (for example, if the new country offers better support options).
On top of that, supporting special needs children can be very expensive at international schools. That is why it's crucial for families to understand the financial implications. As a global mobility manager, you should discuss with them whether the company will partly or fully reimburse the associated costs.
Do I have to enroll my child myself?
A lot of expat questions are organizational in nature. Families who move across borders receive support from a variety of parties, so it's important for the global mobility manager to explain upfront which vendor does what. For example, education consultancy companies can assist in finding a child-specific educational solution and provide guidance on the enrollment process.
Will my child be placed back?
When kids switch curriculums, cut-off dates are one of several factors that should be taken into account. Families that are relocating overseas with children also need to deal with differences in academic calendars, as they move across time zones.
On top of that, curricular differences may lead children to be placed back — which, of course, has huge implications for a child. That is why expat questions like these are paramount and require clear answers.
Does education in the new country come with a price tag?
As a global mobility manager, you'll want to make the assignee aware of the financial implications of an international relocation. For example, they need to know if partial or full reimbursement of an international school is included in the global mobility policy. Keep in mind that in some countries, a public school may be a better option for the child (and a less costly one for the company — it's a win-win situation). This is often the case for education in the United States and the education system structure in the U.K.
Can my child continue their extracurricular activity?
This isn't really part of global education and may feel like a minor thing, but it can matter a lot from a socio-emotional perspective. If a child's whole life revolves around football and that's taken away from them, it can hugely impact their ability to perform in school and make friends. Children also need a certain level of consistency when they move. So, it's important to consider expat questions like these as well.
Need help answering expat questions?
It may be useful to work with an external educational mobility consultant, who can provide independent guidance on all educational matters and find an educational solution tailored to the individual child. Contact Edufax to find out how we will go the extra mile for your international hires.