The head of HR for a global medical company required our assistance in relocating their new Vice President and his family, to their headquarters in Guildford, Surrey.
Jean was travelling to the UK first, to start work and had the responsibility of finding a rental property and state schools for his wife and two children age 10 and 13. The family would follow a couple of months later to fit into the new school terms here in the UK and finish in Switzerland.
Jean’s main concerns were that of language. His wife and children’s first language was French, and their English was limited. It was therefore imperative that they had support in selecting the state schools that were best able to assist with this as well as dealing with all the administration that comes with life in the UK.
Jean’s HR department took an active role in supporting him, often liaising with us, and between us all we made a great team.
An intensive rental home search with our local area consultant was successful, resulting in us securing a four bedroom, unfurnished house in Guildford close to the office and sought after local state schools.
Our next step was the school search. TRC contacted all of the local state schools and discussed their language support and approach to ESL (English as a Second Language).
The current school’s policy is to integrate new children into the classroom as quickly as possible, even if they speak little English. In some schools, complete beginners are placed in special classes offering targeted English tuition which can either be offered full time for the first few weeks, or by substituting less relevant lessons. After this, children are supported in the classroom, with many schools employing bilingual teaching assistants, especially if several children speak the same first language.
We secured appointments with those schools that were ‘more accommodating’ and accompanied Jean on the visits. This gave him a huge insight as to how his children could fit in and what help they would receive.
‘It really was useful to Jean having someone with him to help ask questions and generally discuss his options. Especially as I myself have gone through the whole school selection process myself, twice!’ says Jenny Hogan, MD of TRC.
The timing of the relevant school applications was the next hurdle as most local authorities will not accept school applications until children are resident in the UK. It then takes 2-3 weeks for the applications to be processed and the school places offered. The fact Jean already had a UK address was irrelevant.
Once we had an arrival date for the children the relevant school applications were made, and fortunately spaces were available in the correct year groups for both children. Despite being offered a place in arguably a better school closer to home, Jean accepted a place at a secondary school a little further away for his eldest daughter. Having met the head master personally, he felt the language support and atmosphere of the school better suited his eldest child, something he probably wouldn’t have considered had he not received specific school support from TRC.
We love keeping in touch with our families and Jean will let us know how the children are settling in soon.
Kalewa, The Warren, Caversham,
1 The Mews,
Gilston Park, Hertfordshire