A chat with Lorna Clayton On International Boarding Education

By Soko Directory Team / Published September 14, 2023 | 1:22 pm



School

What are Academic Families?

Academic Families is a UK-based education consultancy placing international pupils in UK boarding schools. Our premier placement service (British Council Distinction), coupled with our AEGIS-accredited guardianship, enables families to choose the best-matched school for their child regardless of its location.  Our Guardianship team provides the local support our international families require when their child is not in school – pastoral, educational, pupil travel arrangements, and matched homestay hosts.

We support families from their initial interest until their child’s last day in education.  Each child’s well-being is always at the forefront of our support.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind leveraging the Kenyan market?

The inspiration behind the Kenyan market stems from our extensive experience in placing students from Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda into UK boarding schools over the past seven years. Throughout this period, we have received referrals from happy parents and students leading to our expansion across East Africa. In our pursuit of providing tailored educational solutions, we have conducted two visits to Kenya to gain a deep understanding of the local families’ specific requirements for international boarding education.

We recognize that Kenyan students possess unique qualities that make them highly sought after by UK boarding schools. These qualities include their strong academic performance, often excelling in the same curriculum as UK institutions. Moreover, Kenyan students exhibit remarkable resilience, a positive attitude, leadership skills, and an exceptional ability to foster positive relationships with peers from diverse backgrounds. These attributes make them valuable assets to the boarding school communities they become a part of.

We firmly believe that now is the opportune moment to introduce top British boarding schools to Kenyan families, enabling them to further nurture their children as global citizens. However, we understand that choosing the right school can be a complex decision. Therefore, our dedicated consulting team is committed to guiding and supporting families at every stage of the process. Our thorough consultation ensures that we fully comprehend the individual requirements of both students and parents before recommending a carefully curated shortlist of schools. This personalized approach aims to facilitate the best possible educational fit for each child, fostering their growth and development.

What are the main goals and objectives you hope to achieve through your current plans?

We seek to introduce carefully selected top boarding schools to Kenyan families. This introduction will provide families with a first-hand opportunity to understand that their children are highly valued in UK and Canadian boarding schools. They will have the chance to engage with representatives from these prestigious institutions and have their questions answered.

We intend to emphasize to families that they can confidently send their child to a UK boarding school with the assurance that Academic Families will provide comprehensive support. This support extends to helping families find the school that best suits their child’s needs, ensuring their safety, success, and overall happiness. Furthermore, Academic Families can offer professional guardianship services to provide the necessary support for students studying far from home.

It is essential to convey to parents that they must prioritize their child’s unique needs when selecting a school. We aim to educate parents so that they can access professional expertise and knowledge throughout this decision-making process. This guidance will help ensure that their search for the best school remains focused on their child’s requirements, avoiding any potential sidetracking by well-intentioned advice from friends and family, who may have a limited view of the available school options.

We recognize the importance of fostering understanding between boarding school staff and students regarding the students’ cultural backgrounds and environments. This fair will facilitate an understanding of the students’ perspectives, including the emotions they experience when arriving at school after a long journey from home.

Lastly, we aim to convey the fact that UK boarding schools actively recruit students from around the world. Kenyan students, while interacting with British peers, also can mingle with students from various nationalities. This global exposure is a distinctive feature of UK boarding schools, offering students a truly international British experience. 

What constraints do parents and students face while seeking international education?

The abundance of excellent international schools can often be overwhelming for parents. The sheer variety of options can lead to confusion and make it challenging to identify the most suitable school for their child.

While it’s a common decision for parents in East Africa to send their children abroad for education, they may receive advice from other parents whose child is already studying overseas. However, this advice is often informal and not necessarily based on professional expertise. The chosen school that works well for one child may not be the best fit for another. This informal advice can further complicate the decision-making process, leaving parents unsure about the most suitable school for their child.

Many parents in East Africa lead busy lives and have limited time available for in-depth school research. As a result, they may rely on word-of-mouth recommendations or hearsay rather than conducting thorough research to assess the compatibility between their child and the school. In some cases, parents may prioritize a school’s reputation or name recognition over whether it aligns with their child’s specific needs.

Each child is unique and has their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. However, parents might not always consider this individuality when selecting a school. Instead, they may focus on a school’s reputation without considering whether it is the right fit for their child’s personality and educational requirements.

How do you envision this education fair contributing to the local educational landscape and opportunities for students?

This education fair aims to:

Help parents understand that introducing their child to independent living within the structured environment of a boarding school can prepare them for university life, especially if they are not UK streetwise. The support from both the school and Academic Families’ guardianship will be crucial in this transition.

Inspire students to work diligently toward their goal of studying abroad, fostering their excitement and motivation.

Provide Kenyan students with access to a wider range of educational opportunities, including various curriculums, subjects, teaching styles, and assessments available in the UK. Additionally, they can explore diverse extracurricular activities such as equestrian programs, sports academies, and schools catering to different learning styles or needs.

UK boarding schools not only serve as a pathway to UK universities but also increasingly act as gateways to global universities. This broader perspective can make Kenyan students highly sought after by universities worldwide, enhancing their prospects for global careers.

What advice would you give to parents and students who are attending the fair to make the most out of the experience?

We recommend the following advice for parents and students attending the fair to maximize their experience:

Plan: Families should consider their timeline for enrolling in a boarding school. They should think about the type of education they need for their child, including curriculum and extracurricular activities. Additionally, they should be open to exploring schools in various countries, as Academic Families can place students in top boarding schools worldwide, not just in the UK.

Focus on student needs: Emphasise that the location and proximity to personal support are not the only critical factors. Instead, prioritize understanding the student’s unique requirements and aspirations. Academic Families can provide local support through their guardianship program.

Consult with education consultants: Parents should schedule a consultation with Academic Families’ education consultants. This consultation will provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to the family’s specific needs. Link

Research schools: Families should thoroughly research the five schools participating in the fair. Prepare a list of questions in advance to gain a comprehensive understanding of each school’s offerings. Students should actively engage in this process, as schools often remember enthusiastic and engaged students who show a genuine interest in their programs. The schools include:

  1. Roedean School
  2. Rossall School
  3. Royal Hospital Schools
  4. Bedford School
  5. Felsted School
Lorna Clayton is the Managing Director at Academic Families, a leading UK-based education consultancy. 




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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