By Anton Constantinou, SilverDoor

Finding the right school is often one of the most important decisions families have to make when moving abroad. There’s the curriculum to consider, the age of your children, not to mention the tedious application processes. Those relocating to countries drastically different from their own may also require further language training on the side for their children.

This year’s InterNations Expat Insider survey has seen Finland emerge as the number one country in the world for ‘Availability of Childcare & Education’, ‘Costs of Childcare and Education’ and ‘Quality of Education’. No tuition fees, subsided meals for full time pupils, and fewer classes/more breaks are just a few of the contributing factors behind the country’s academic success, with Singapore, Sweden and South Africa respectively coming second in the same categories.

But what’s the good in knowing the best education systems in the world, without first considering how to get your children into them? With that in mind, here are a few things which every parent needs to know when relocating their children to new schools:

Finding a school place

Get in touch with your education authority to establish school choices and application procedures. Most of the contacts you need can be found either on national government websites, or via a Google search of state/private schools in the local area. Not all countries offer state funded education. It’s worth finding out what your child is entitled to, how much extra you might need to pay in fees, and whether you need to be a national of the country in order to receive free schooling.

Documents needed

Some schools require to you to provide copies of your child’s immunisation certificates. A passport or birth certificate with a certified translation in the language of your new country may also be requested. Individual schools will be able to confirm their specific requirements.

Establish want you want from the school

Choosing the right school is crucial to your child’s development. Classrooms around the world offer a million and one different approaches to learning, including faith based teaching and special needs education. Some adhere to a national curriculum; others set their own term times. International schools are an attractive option for expats, as they give children the opportunity to learn a curriculum which transcends national borders. Important things to consider in a school include:

  • Class size / student: teacher ratio
  • The range of classes offered
  • The qualifications of teaching staff
  • The overall philosophy and values of the school

Also keep a close eye on league tables for details of all the top schools nearby.

Proximity to accommodation

Before settling on a place to stay, consider its proximity to local schools. It may well be that you’re not in a catchment area, and have to join a waiting list. Relocation companies are intuitively aware of the dilemma families face in accepting work assignments without first sorting out schooling arrangements, and address the problem by establishing strong relationships with the international education community. Serviced apartments give newly arrived families somewhere to stay while they finalise schooling arrangements and permanent accommodation.

SilverDoor work closely with a number relocation companies to source the best temporary accommodation available, drawing upon an inventory over 160,000 serviced apartments worldwide.

Visit the school’s themselves

Schedule in viewings with the schools you’ve shortlisted for the best possible opportunity to gauge their size, scale and the quality of their facilities. Where possible, take advantage of open days, or alternatively arrange a private visit.

Getting your child into the right school is difficult enough without the added strain of relocation, so save of yourself some much needed time and hassle by planning ahead and doing your research.