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For many families who live between different countries, providing children with a continuity of education can be a daunting challenge. However, an enlightened few believe it is quite the opposite, seeing their children’s unique circumstances as a brilliant opportunity to enrich their learning and prepare them effectively for the challenges they will face in adulthood.
Traditionally, parents seeking the best possible education have sent their children to an elite boarding school, or hired a governess or tutor. Boarding schools can be brilliant if your child is suited to them. For others they can be lonely, uninspiring places that can do little to develop character or academic success. Tutors on the other hand, provide learning that is tailored to a child’s exact needs. With a tutor, parents are free of any cultural or religious limitations that may be imposed by the school and are free to take an active part in designing their child’s learning.
Traditionally, the tutor or governess would be an impoverished but well-mannered student or a retired teacher. These days, there are a small number of passionate, internationally minded, professional tutors who choose full time tutoring as a career path. When Gwyneth Paltrow advertised for a £62,100-a-year tutor to teach her two young children drama, tennis, chess, Mandarin Chinese, philosophy as well as Latin and Greek, she set the president for the ‘uber education’. Tutor fees now can climb up to as much as £200,000 per annum.
The next generation always faces interesting challenges and opportunities. Recent statistics suggest that 65% of children may end up doing jobs that don’t yet exist, making it impossible to know exactly what to teach them. For this reason, the best educators teach soft skills such as creativity and resilience that will allow children to succeed across new disciplines. Of course, they also need to cover government set curricula.
HNW and UHNW families can offer their children an even better preparation for the real world by tailoring their children’s education to take advantage of the family’s own resources. What better way for a child to learn about a water conservation project in the Saharan desert than to accompany their parents on a philanthropic trip, accompanied by their private tutor who will use the experience as a basis for a plethora of lessons; ranging from history, to politics and geography? For a small number of families with adequate means, the world can literally become the classroom, with the private tutor as the child’s facilitator, guiding them expertly through each new experience and challenge.
For children who are gifted and talented, or have specific educational needs, the benefits of one to one teaching are even more pronounced. Great progress can be made, which can often result in a return to mainstream schooling.
Many parents want to be able to choose the individual educator their children work with. They will ensure that the tutor fits like a glove with their family; that their attitudes and beliefs are aligned and that they have similar aspirations for the child. Over time, the tutor will often become part of the extended family, representing a trusted mentor and friend to a child and his or her parents.
Armed with some of the most effective educators in the world, parents can now begin to shape their children’s future in the way that they choose. They have freedom to cherry pick the best parts of the international education market. For example, a child could be homeschooling for a year to catch up from some missed learning in earlier years. Part of this could be spent skiing or hiking in the mountains, or on family excursions, where the child learns in harmony with their new environment. This could be followed by preparation for a top boarding school, where the child can dip into a new social group, fully prepared and confident to succeed. With memories of bucolic school days and firm friendships made, the teenage child may then wish to prepare for university at a Sixth Form in a different country. As fashions and career plans change, leading universities like Harvard, Yale and Oxbridge will change in popularity; the child will always be well equipped for any choice.
By choosing to provide a truly bespoke education, the global elite are giving their children the best possible tools to thrive in a challenging and rapidly changing world.