Plaid skirts, khaki pants, white polo shirts. Whether children despise or approve, it is not uncommon to see kids all around the world commuting to and from school in their uniform. Wearing a uniform for primary and secondary school-aged children is common practice in many countries, but uniform policy continues to be a highly debated topic amongst educators and parents.
School uniforms were originally worn by orphan children who represented the lower class. Around the 16th century, during the reign of King Henry VIII of England, the uniform eventually gained a reputation of a higher status quo–one that denotes integrity and obedience, excellence and superiority.
With the recent signing of an agreement between the U.S. and Russia that tightens the regulations on Americans adopting Russian children, the issue of intercountry adoptions has once more been put into the spotlight. All adoptions require a degree of adapting, but if the child is not only moving home but moving country does this make the process any more difficult?
There have been a number of high-profile adoptions by celebrities, and intercountry adoptions in countries such as the U.S. and UK reached highs around seven years ago. However, stories such as that of the American woman who sent her adopted Russian child back to Russia on an aeroplane alone have demonstrated the difficulties that can arise. International adoptions have declined from an estimated 45,000 in 2005 to 25,000 in 2011.
Nearly 40 per cent of Emirati and expatriate schoolchildren in the UAE have been classed as overweight. News which has prompted recent worry amongst health professionals and parents alike. The UAE is not alone in this, however; excess weight is a problem affecting children in many countries and is linked to health problems later in life. As of 2010, more than 40 million children were classified by the World Health Organization as being overweight.
Ensuring your child is eating right is important no matter where you may be living, though it may prove more of a challenge in some countries than others, or in a time of upheaval, such as a relocation.
Schools in London have some of the most ethnically diverse students in the UK. In a recent study, information was collected on the language children speak at home. It found 60% of students reported English as their first language. Nearly 40% of those surveyed speak a minority language at home. Bengali, Urdu and Somali are the top languages spoken after English.
“London’s increasing language diversity attracts much interest and debate among public service providers, educationalists and the public. Yet little was known about the numbers of people who speak different languages, and the implications of this dimension of population structure and change,” explains Professor Dick Wiggins of the Institute of Education, University of London.
According to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey countries reporting the highest expatriate salaries don’t have the happiest children. In fact, some of the countries with the happiest children rank the lowest in terms of parent salary. This goes to show that what children relocating abroad need, isn’t necessarily related to money.
The countries rated the highest in terms of raising children were France, the Netherlands and Australia. While they were seen as having the best environments for raising children, there were nearer the bottom for economic benefits. France was ranked at 26th, the Netherlands at 29th and Australia in 22nd place.
As entry into the top private schools becomes increasingly competitive more expats are hiring tutors. These modern tutors are often multi-lingual, artistic, sporty and accompany their charges all around the globe.
“London’s affluent expat population particularly seems to favour tutoring, which is making the market competitive,” founder and director of Holland Park Tuition, William Stadlen, told Spear’s Wealth management Survey.
“As there is now a bottleneck of kids competing for fewer places at top independent prep and public schools, people are turning more and more to tutoring.”
As expat parents we want and expect an international school to give our children a quality education, excellent sports programs, fabulous teachers, a school administration that listens and responds to parent needs, and a positive social network for children and parents. The bottom line is, we want our kids to be “happy” and we believe those components in a school will help achieve that.
It comes down to the fact that fees for international schools cost more than most four year colleges. Naturally, parents believe their expectations should be met at this price. At Live and Learn we are regularly approached by parents asking what makes a good international school or how they should decide which school is best for their child.
As an expat mother who lived in Singapore for nearly six years, I never actually had to worry about cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning and keeping the house organized. As part of the Singaporean expat culture, most families like us hired full time, live in, domestic help. So when we learned, early in 2011, that we would be moving to Northern Europe and domestic help was no longer a possibility, I had to figure out what I was going to do! I had never been a mom without the help!
Moving to a new country with a five and six year old is challenging enough, but to have never been a mom without domestic help, well, that took my learning curve to a whole new level. Morning routines, cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping, all the while holding down a full time job….needless to say, I was overwhelmed.
If cost is driving your search for an international school, don’t head to Switzerland. A new tool from Lloyds TSB International shows the country has the most expensive international schools in the world.
Average annual school fees are GBP 16,612.
Within Switzerland, Lausanne is home to the priciest schools. Average fees there are GBP 19,900, compared to “only” GBP 14,000 in Geneva.