The prospect of relocating to another country on an international assignment can be an overwhelming experience for families, with a number of considerations to take into account. Settling into a new town, meeting new people and choosing the right school are commonly named worries for many families, and for some moving to a country with a different language, customs and culture also presents challenges.
Caroline Breeds, Corporate Relations Consultant at ACS International Schools, discusses how an international school is uniquely placed to provide a relocating family with a strong support network and community that can support families during the transition process that comes with moving to a new country.
An international school is ideally placed to provide families with another support system once they have made the move to a new country. With over one hundred nationalities represented amongst the student, family and staff at ACS International Schools four campuses, new families have a readymade community on hand to share their experiences and knowledge and to help them settle into their new homes.
It is important for any moving family to know that their channels of support do not end with relocation agents and HR professionals and ACS has fully trained pastoral care teams and counsellors in place to ensure that families have other ways they can raise relocation and education queries. Each ACS school has also developed its’ own unique programmes, including Welcome Teams, a group consisting of parents and staff who are on hand to help families adjust to their new environments and local community.
What is a Welcome Team?
Post relocation and school registration is when it can start to get confusing for families on who they should contact for advice or further assistance. It is at this point where the Welcome Team will send a Welcome Letter via email with details of the latest school events, fellow parent contact details and a booklet containing information on reliable local services. Making contact in a quick manner is important as it gives enrolling families the knowledge and peace of mind on how they can access support within their new community.
As with many international schools ACS hosts a rolling admissions programme, which means that students can enroll in the school at any time during the school year. A number of events, such as Welcome BBQs and Welcome Bagel Breakfasts, are run by the Welcome Team across the academic year, meaning there is always an event for joining families to meet and talk with existing families and teachers at the school in a relaxed environment.
Welcome Team systems are a good way to ensure that families relocating from international countries and within the UK have access to regular events such as, book and cooking clubs, which help families create a routine and feel more settled in their new home. Taking small steps, like joining or attending regular events, is an easy way for families get to know their new neighbours and make new friends.
Helping to ensure parents and children are emotionally supported, whether they are arriving or leaving, is of vital importance during any relocation. The act of relocating away from a school can be a difficult time for families and ACS’ Welcome Teams help them with through this transition by organising a High Tea event at the end of every year. Departing parents have been responsive to the High Tea event as it provides the opportunity for them to share their experiences with friends from the school community and move on to their next home and school with happy memories.
Make a buddy
ACS also operates a ‘buddy system’ at its schools where new families are paired with an existing family of the same nationality and children of a similar age. Having other people to speak with about any concerns that may not have been raised during a move such as, connecting to the internet and the best place to do the weekly food shop, reassures a relocating family that they are not alone with these worries and the experiences of existing families can help them settle into their new country more easily.
Another positive with using a buddy scheme is that from the moment they arrive at ACS both parents and students have instant friends they can turn to for guidance, greatly reassuring for children as starting a new school can be a daunting prospect. Many families forge strong friendships during their time at ACS and these last beyond their time at the school.
Embracing international cultures
At the core of ACS International Schools is a strong ethos of embracing international mindedness. The parent and teacher organisations present at each campus play a big part in helping all families celebrate the multiple nationalities in their communities.
Popular events held across all campuses are the International Fairs, where parents gather to create stalls representing their country and culture. Parents, teachers and students work together to organise these events, which are a great way for parents and students to socialise and learn more about each other.
I believe that international schools can truly support the relocation process in a way most schools cannot. The sense of belonging that an international community provides allows new families to feel they are moving from one home straight to another. The close work that ACS International School provides with relocation agents and professionals also gives peace of mind to families that all aspects of their move have been considered and taken care of. ACS minimises the transition process and lets new families enjoy their new home from the moment they move in.
By Caroline Breeds, ACS International Schools
Find out more at www.acs-schools.com