Reading, Writing, Arithmetic...and Relocation!

Published: Mar 21, 2014

Overcoming International Assignment School Selection Challenges

Worried about your company’s return on investment when it comes to international assignments? Organizations looking to increase assignment success rates for employees with accompanying family members recognize that family matters – especially schooling – have a big impact on the outcome.

Well, in the words of that school teacher we can all remember, “Pay attention, class – this will be on the test.” Consider these fast educational facts about families and international assignments:

  • Employees relocate with their children on over half of all long-term international assignments
  • Children’s education ranks first among the critical family challenges to mobility most often cited by both assignees and Human Resources
  • Family and spouse-related concerns still rank at the top of reasons for assignment refusal and early repatriations

The driving force in any school selection process is to find the best possible match between the needs of the student and the education provided by the school. As difficult as this may be (based on each student’s unique set of interests and learning abilities), it could be further compounded when the student and his or her family has the additional challenge of relocating from another country.  

Moving from Confusion to Clarity

NEI knows the challenges assignees and their families may face in the school selection and adjustment process. We recognize the definition of a “good school” in the destination location often depends on the criteria used and what the family’s expectations.

Serving as each family’s advocate and resource, our International Account Executive actively listens and conducts a formal, up-front needs analysis. She then contacts our expert, in-country Destination Services Provider to set up visits to appropriate schools. 

Some clients will also pay for school search firms, such as our service partner School Choice International, to conduct detailed research on school options to find the best fit for students in need. Areas to be examined include:

  • Educational goals
  • Enrichment programs
  • Educational achievements
  • Advanced placement/assessment systems
  • Standardized test policies
  • Academic credentials
  • Cooperative programs
  • Basic requirements for advancement
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Coursework
  • Tutoring policies
  • Extra curricular activities 

There are many choices available for families with school-age children on an international assignment. 

For instance, for a United States assignee family, options could include:

  • American Community Schools – These parallel U.S. curriculums, methods and materials
  • Multi-National or International Schools – The curriculum is more of a combination of different countries and instruction is normally in more than one language
  • Schools Native to the Host Country – The student is immersed in the culture of another country but may have difficulty easing back into home country school system
  • Correspondence Courses – Once considered only for Missionary families abroad, such courses are now widely used by families in remote locations as well as by families who wish to supplement their children’s education while in a foreign location
  • Home Schooling – Available in any locale a family chooses. Just as in correspondence courses, certification/accreditation of coursework is important. There are home schooling programs today that carry an automatic school transcript to hand to the next school location
  • Boarding Schools – Once the option of only the affluent, such schools are now available for students of every socio-economic range or academic ability and offer a variety of programs

NEI’s International Account Executives, along with our service partner, School Choice International – which has 90 consultants in 50 locations throughout the United States and worldwide – can closely work with each family going on assignment to identify educational options

“The right school for a colleague's child may not be the right school for another child. This approach eliminates alternatives that may, in fact, be a better choice. In my experience, the ‘Avis: We Try Harder’ schools often have the best teachers, smaller classes and more individual attention and should not be overlooked," according to Elizabeth Perelstein, Founder and CEO of School Choice International. 

Often, parents try to replicate the same school experiences their children had back home, when a different approach may better suit their child at this point in time.  “Vocabulary, playground practices, lunch and what to give the teacher for holidays,” Perelstein continues, “can be difficult moments for a child who is new.  Becoming informed about what their children will encounter and preparing their children for these small but crucial changes will make for an easier adjustment and is perhaps more important to focus on.” 

NEI Offers Comprehenseive Expertise, not Cliff Notes

In the immortal words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power.”   

Along with our service partner, NEI helps identify any educational needs and strives to make the assignment an exciting adventure and growth experience for all members of the family.  If the assignment is not permanent, we also assist with the transition back to the local school district or to another school for a subsequent assignment.

One of NEI’s partnership differentiators is to use a multi-tiered approach to engage the right partners who understand the need to contain relocation costs and deliver strong solutions to individual assignee needs without sacrificing service.

We would be pleased to review your international assignment policies to help ensure your assignee dependent school assistance benefits are competitive, cost-effective and meeting the needs of your unique families.