Hong Kong Schooling: Helping Those on International Assignment
Posted by: Hye Lim Kim, Cartus Schooling Consultant
For relocating families moving to Hong Kong, securing an international school place has long been a key challenge. Although availability has improved since the critically low levels of three or four years ago, demand for places continues to outstrip supply. Our latest Cartus Mobility Insights looks at the school challenges faced by families going on international assignment to Hong Kong, including best practice solutions.
International Assignment Top Tips
Whilst long waiting lists and oversubscribed schools can make a relocation to Hong Kong stressful for families, there are best practice recommendations that parents can follow. These solutions can lead to school placement success and help children to settle into their new lives in Hong Kong.
Be an early bird. Like most things to do with corporate relocation, advance planning is key. Parents should submit multiple applications since the first choice, and often second choice, may not be available.
You can’t research enough. As soon as a move is scheduled, get online! Research can be an invaluable tool to help better understand the different curriculums and school facilities available in Hong Kong. Be sure to research a school’s academic record and the extracurricular activities they offer.
Make your application stand out. Parents should consider asking former teachers and school personnel to write letters of recommendation about the child, to attach to a school application.
Consider year group options. Year group placement can be a concern for parents, as some schools place children in year groups based on their dates of birth. So children born between September and December may be placed in a year group either above where they currently are, or they could be expected to repeat a year. Talk to the school about these concerns and they will advise on how a child’s year group placement may impact them socially and academically.
Trust your school. International schools are designed to meet the needs of expatriate families. They are extremely experienced in helping relocating children settle-in, not only to a new school, but to a new city or country.
Be open and honest. We recommend that parents are as open and honest as possible about the international assignment. Involve children in the decision making process, where appropriate, whether it’s researching schools online or taking part in school search trips. Allow children to have a sense of ownership by listening to their feelings and concerns.
Settling-in process. Once the international assignment has begun, ensure that children have ways to communicate with their old friends. Teenagers, especially, can sometimes find relocation difficult as they make a lot of effort to find the right peer group, so it can be stressful to have to start all over again. Parents should consider encouraging them to join extracurricular activities, which can help to rebuild their social network.