The school decision was perfect and makes all the difference in the world in relocating – Mr & Mrs Holcombe
How do you find a quality education for your three young daughters in a foreign country in only a month and in the middle of the academic year? This was the dilemma facing Mr & Mrs Holcombe when they learned they were relocating to London for work.
Transition from US to UK education system
The house the family rented was also dependent upon securing three places in the same Prep school in a city neither of them was familiar with. Mrs Holcombe preferred to be walking distance from the school and this active, outdoor family needed plenty of green space around them and easy access to the countryside. At the heart of their concerns was the transition from the American to the British system: would they be academically behind their UK peers? Was there a school that could help them to find their feet and settle in quickly?
This is a familiar scenario for the experienced consultants at Gabbitas: relocating families at short notice is our bread and butter. Presenting our clients with excellent choices that tick their boxes is at the heart of our service and we achieve that by always keeping the child at the heart of our considerations.
Finding schools with strong pastoral reputations
The first task was to familiarise the family with the different areas of London and commute times to the city for Mr Holcombe; they were keen to live south of the river, and we embarked upon a search that explored options from Richmond to Clapham and as far south as Croydon. We knew the girls would be surprised by the small town house Prep schools in London; not at all like the 700 plus campus school they were used to in the USA. It made sense to find schools with strong pastoral reputations to help support the girls in this big life change.
Identifying schools able to admit three siblings
The schools we presented to the family had availability for all three girls – not an easy task to find halfway through the school year. The sticking point was assessing the girls prior to entry: some schools insisted upon meeting the girls in person, others required they sat entry papers in their current schools and had a skype interview with the Head. The family only had one month to secure the places and find a house to live in; bringing the girls to the UK for testing was not an option for and would put unnecessary pressure on the girls.
Instead we arranged an intensive four-day tour of a shortlist of schools for the parents, often visiting two a day, with a meeting with the Head. They explored the surround areas and local housing options, and by the end of the week they returned to the USA comfortable in their choices and ready to make decisions.
Skype admission interview
The school they chose was very accommodating and flexible in their approach to entry. They interviewed the girls by skype and secured reports from their current school. Having met the parents, the Head felt very comfortable offering the girls places without meeting them. This level of flexibility toward overseas applicants is much appreciated by families, and it took the pressure off the girls to perform after a long-haul flight.
The family rented a house just around the corner from the school, which they viewed during their flash visit to the UK. Everything lined up as anticipated and a few weeks later we received a photo of three beaming girls in their new uniforms on the first day at their new school.
Matching a child to the right school
The skill in a successful school search is in being sensitive to the individual needs of every family whilst understanding what the schools need from a consultant in order to make a well-informed decision about candidates. Our knowledge of schools is extensive and our ability to match a child to the right school is second to none. Parents and schools trust our ability to do right by them and those beaming faces say it all.
We have enjoyed a mutually beneficial working relationship with you over the years and appreciate the families that you have sent to us. The girls have settled in happily – the school