Tea with Steve: Master Consultant Interview

Posted by on Sep 22, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Tea with Steve: Master Consultant Interview

Our interview this week is with Steve Bryant. Steve has been an education consultant with WEC for over 15 years. He is a keen runner and is a member of a local running club.  He and his wife Gill served in Senegal at Bourofaye Christian School from 1990-2001 and started as consultants after a short sabbatical time following our move back to the UK. Steve and Gill work from home in SW England living in a small town near Bath which is about 110 miles west of London.

1. In what roles do you serve, related to education consulting or not?

We have worked in a joint role as the International MK Consultants for WEC for over 15 years now since returning from Bourofaye Christian School in Senegal. I was the headteacher (principal) there and taught a wide range of subjects up to the Cambridge International GCSE level. Gill was the librarian and a teacher of history and French. We meet up with families during the pre-departure training process and when on travels to our many overseas branches. A lot of our consultation is done through e-correspondence and Skype. We head a decentralised team of MK staff where each of our 16 sending offices around the world has someone designated to look after the education and welfare of our children. Part of our job is to help equip these designated people consult with parents from the very early stages of application to join WEC.

2. What’s the number one thing that a new consultant can do to build trust with families?

Relationship is vital. Parents need to know that a consultant is competent of course and understands the many issues involved, but there needs to be trust between the consultant and the parents that comes from a relationship where the consultant gets to know the family and the individual children as well as possible.

3. What issue are you most often asked about by the families you serve?

Access to higher education. This covers finding colleges that offer scholarships in the USA, as well as navigating the complicated and demanding residency rules in parts of Europe.

4. How often do you travel?

Steve travels overseas three times a year normally. For Gill it averages out to around once a year.

5. What homeschool curriculum do you see working really well for your families?

A few of our members have used online schools like North Star, their experiences have all been good. From North America Sonlight is one of the majority options and is one that we like, so supporting families to select from and best use the huge range of resources they provide is important. European countries tend to only have one or two options such as WES from the UK, the Fernschule from Germany, CNED from France etc. The latter two are distance schools, so of course are “home-based” options rather than home schooling. Families from Canada, Australia and New Zealand also have access to their own distance school.

6. What is one of the biggest challenges that you see families on the field facing?

On-field longevity is consistently going down. The reasons are varied, but certain really common ones are the need to return to support children in education transition (e.g. starting at college, university or in a new school), health issues in the extended or nuclear family, visa renewal problems, instability in some countries, and special educational needs in the children. The end result is that a lot of families leave prematurely after only a few years of overseas service.

You only asked for one, but another stand out issue is funding for higher education. It does depend on the country of origin as some of our European countries still have free tuition, but increasingly we have students starting in higher education who will have incurred enormous debts by the time their degree is completed.

8. What word of advice would you offer to an education consultant who is just starting out?

Familiarise yourself with all of the educational options and don’t get fixated on the idea that one of them is superior to all of the others. For some families home education is the best move and out of those some will do really well with online options whereas others would be better with a more hands-on practical approach or a more traditional book-based system. Other families need to be near an affordable international school and for still others a national school will work best. Families are in all sorts of different situations and their children are all different so a “one size fits all” approach is not helpful and could even be damaging to some children.

 

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