Six reasons expat parents should consider distance learning or boarding school

A new academy is shaking up traditional distance learning with a combined approach that strikes the perfect balance for expat families.

Six reasons expat parents should consider distance learning or boarding school
Photo: Le Sallay

Think distance learning and, chances are, you imagine a course designed for adults with lots of heavy books, solitary time and precious little social interaction. But education is changing and children can now avail of a distance learning program with one crucial twist: it combines home study with a learning camp.

Le Sallay International Academy is a pioneering school that offers a unique learning experience for children aged 10-14. As well as providing a world-class distance learning program, Le Sallay will also host a three-week learning camp at the beginning and end of each term in a 16th-century French château where the students will get to meet their classmates and soak up European culture and history. Altogether a third of the education takes place in study camps while two thirds is conducted through distance learning.

Find out more about the benefits of distance learning at Le Sallay International Academy

Photo: Le Sallay

Before the academy officially opens, Le Sallay has organised a seven-week pilot period in early 2019 so that both parents and children can get a taste of what to expect.

Read on to find out the benefits of the school’s new take on distance learning.

Get the best of both worlds

Many expat parents face the dilemma of whether to send their child to boarding school. For some parents, who move frequently due to work commitments, there is often no alternative. Le Sallay provides a solution to this parental predicament.

“We see the school as a hybrid model that combines distance learning and a learning camp. Separation anxiety and even abandonment issues are problems for many children who attend boarding school,” says Dr. Matthew McConnell, who is heading up Le Sallay’s humanities department.

He adds that with Le Sallay’s mixed model, children get to be at home more but they also become more independent and get the socialization associated with school by going abroad to meet their classmates.

The best teachers

Unencumbered by a specific location, Le Sallay is able to attract the best teachers to be part of their distance learning team.

“We are going to be able to hire teachers from a broad pool of applicants from all over the world. In most cases, we intend to have teachers with a PhD. We are confident that we can provide an educational experience that is unlike anything else,” enthuses Dr. McConnell.

They will form a close alliance with their pupils during the live classroom sessions, which will be enhanced in the personal contact established in the three-week study camps during the semester.

Yan Rauch. Photo: Le Sallay

Students will also get the chance to be taught by visiting lecturers who wouldn't usually teach in a school or boarding school. Famous writers, scientists and professors from large universities are among the guest lecturers who will be invited to spend a week conducting lessons and talking to the students about their work. Already signed up are award-winning Vietnamese-American writer and journalist Andrew Lam, History of Science PhD Michael Barany and Digital Media guru Elizabeth Osder, among others.

Flexible learning

Distance learning provides the opportunity for a truly tailored education that suits your child. Students learn about time management when it comes to doing their lessons and how to handle online and offline work.

It’s also a balance that is particularly suited to science and mathematics education, explains Yan Rauch, who is Head of Maths and Science at Le Sallay.

“It suits my method well. I need the camps to create a human relationship and for the children to develop relationships among themselves. Once that basis is there, it doesn’t really matter if we proceed to solve puzzles online or offline.”

He adds that the heart of science doesn’t lie in the lab or in expensive equipment, but in teaching children how to look at the world with curiosity — a key element in all his classes.

“Anyone can buy an oscilloscope, but it takes some teaching talent to help your pupils discover what's fascinating about, say, water dripping from a tap.”

What’s more, it’s an approach that is suited to children from all backgrounds and all learning styles.

“Each task involves different possible depth levels so that the best-prepared children don’t get bored and those with no mathematical training don’t suffer,” says Yan.

Personalized attention

All students, including twice exceptional (2E) children with various learning disabilities, can flourish at Le Sallay, as McConnell explains. The school employs staff who specialise in working with 2E students, offering an individualized approach along with the concerted efforts of psychologists to support socialization.

The academy’s promise to cater for all children is among the reasons there has already been a great deal of parental interest.

“There isn’t anything else out there like Le Sallay. Our mixed model fixes some of the problems that are endemic with boarding school, such as bullying,” he says.

McConnell adds that even students who are neurotypical sometimes struggle in international schools but those pupils will get more personalized attention at Le Sallay. There will also be a dedicated psychologist for children with learning disabilities as well as an individualized approach to their education.

Photo: Le Sallay

Find out more about Le Sallay International Academy

Putting middle school in focus

Le Sallay intends to provide quality combined education for children aged 10-14. It’s a time in adolescent development that is vital but often forgotten about, says McConnell.

“There are lots of good elementary and high schools out there for international pupils but middle school can be a bit forgotten about. We really want to focus on those years (10-14) as they are transitional years that are crucial. Our plan is to take those years and make them productive for all of the pupils at Le Sallay.”

History…not just in the classroom

All the traditional school subjects like Mathematics, English, History, and Science are covered at Le Sallay, but the environment itself is just as educational.

Le Sallay’s learning camp will be hosted in a 16th-century château, which is situated in a private park of four hectares, and just two hours away from Paris. The location makes it ideal for sports and field trips, offering children a totally immersive learning experience.

McConnell explains that there will be lots of structure for children but, importantly, the chance to have fun too. There will also be guest speakers that you wouldn’t normally get in regular schools.

“We will be organizing field trips so they can learn about European culture and history. It is a chance to send your child on an adventure!”

Photo: Le Sallay

More time with your children

Saying goodbye to your child before they depart for boarding school can be heartbreaking for parents. Le Sallay’s mixed model ensures that children continue to have strong family ties while also getting the chance to socialize with classmates at the learning camp, meet children from different backgrounds whilst getting a quality education.

“You get to have your children around! They will be at home more but will also get that independence by going to the learning camps and being on their own while getting the socialization that is part of the school experience,” concludes McConnell.

Le Sallay’s first classes will launch in September 2019. A fee discount is offered to gifted children. Find out more about the academy and fill in an admission form on Le Sallay’s website.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Le Sallay.



English-language programmes at Danish universities face cuts

Denmark's government has agreed on a plan to significantly reduce the number of courses offered in English in the country's universities.

English-language programmes at Danish universities face cuts
Life sciences faculty hold an open house at Copenhagen University. The university is now expected to reduce admissions as part of a plan to decentralise higher education in Denmark. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt / Ritzau Scanpix

At the end of June, the plan aims to reduce the number of English-language higher education programmes while also expanding educational opportunities outside of Denmark’s major cities.

The exact number of courses to be cut – and where they will be cut – depends on the future employment of graduates.

Cuts to English-language programmes

The reduction of English-language programmes at institutions of higher education is rooted in an effort to reduce rising costs of state educational grants (SU) in Denmark. Despite attempts to reduce SU expenses, the cost is expected to rise to 570 million kroner by 2025, far above the cap of 449 million kroner set in 2013. 

There are a number of cases in which non-Danish citizens are entitled to SU, from moving to Denmark with one’s parents, marrying a Danish citizen, residing in Denmark for more than 5 years, status as a worker in Denmark, and more.

The reduction is targeted at English-language programmes where few English-speaking students find employment in Denmark after graduation, according to Denmark’s Ministry of Education and Research. 

Among the targeted programmes are business academies and professional bachelor programmes, where 72 percent of students are English-speaking and only 21 percent find work in Denmark after completing their education. 

However, programmes where higher proportions of English students enter the Danish workforce, and those that have a unique significance on the regional labour market, will be exempt from the reduction. This amounts to 650 education institutions around the country. 

In 2016, students demonstrated against cuts in SU. Photo: Emil Hougaard / Ritzau Scanpix

The agreement also establishes a financial incentive for institutions that graduate English-speaking students who remain to work in Denmark.

According to a June 10 analysis from consulting firm Deloitte, EU students who receive higher education in Denmark contribute an average of nearly 650,000 kroner to Denmark’s public coffers over a lifetime. 

However, the report notes, a student’s positive or negative contribution depends on how long they stay in Denmark. Although students who leave Denmark shortly after graduating constitute a cost to the Danish state, the analysis found that the contribution of students who stay in Denmark to work offsets the cost of those who leave.

The analysis expressed concern that reducing opportunities for English-language higher education could “have a number of unintended negative consequences,” including deterring students who might stay in Denmark to work from moving in the first place. There’s also the risk that it will become more difficult to recruit foreign researchers to Danish universities, which could impact education quality, the analysis claims.

The UCN professional school in Thisted is expected to open one new training program as a result of the decentralisation plan. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Decentralisation of Danish education

The plan to decentralise higher education in Denmark not only expands educational opportunities outside of Denmark’s major cities, but it also aims to reduce enrollment in higher education within major cities by 10 percent by 2030 (but not more than 20 percent).

For example, a law programme will be established in Esbjerg, a medical programme in Køge and a veterinary programme in Foulum.

Minister of Education and Research Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen said the goal was to offer students educational opportunities regardless of where they live within Denmark and strengthen the economy outside of major cities. 

However, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, Dansk Erhverv, expressed concern that the decentralisation plan doesn’t factor in labour demands within Denmark’s major cities.

Mads Eriksen, head of education and research policy at Dansk Erhverv, said it was “unwise” for programmes to reduce acceptance rates to in-demand fields in that particular city. 

“They are trying to solve a problem with labour in the countryside, but at the same time they are creating labour problems in the cities,” Eriksen said. “The English-language programme cuts are far more aligned with the demands of the labour market.”

Denmark has utilised unemployment-based admission for higher education since 2015. Programmes whose graduates experience unemployment consistently 2 percent higher than average are subject to a 30 percent admission cut.

Eriksen thinks it shouldn’t be a matter of reducing admissions across several universities by

“For example, we have five philosophy education programmes in Denmark, each of which have high unemployment rates among graduates,” Eriksen said, referencing a recent Dansk Erhverv analysis

He would prefer to see resources concentrated into making a couple of those programmes the best they can be and closing the rest, versus reducing admissions in all five programmes. “We have to be ready to close programmes that continue to have high unemployment, not just reduce them.”

In 2018, the University of Southern Denmark closed one English-language program and converted two from English to Danish. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen / Ritzau Scanpix

Opposite impacts on provincial institutions

Gitte Sommer Harrits, vice chancellor at VIA University College, shared concern that although the decentralised education aspect of the plan aims to increase the number of students at provincial universities, the reduction of English-language programmes is likely to have the opposite effect.

A report from the organisation Akademikerne in early June found that international students have played a significant role filling educational institutions outside of Danish cities. Nine of the 10 educational institutions with the largest proportion of English-speaking students are outside the country’s largest cities. 

The University of Southern Denmark in Sønderborg has the highest proportion of international students; 40 percent of its 628 students are not affiliated with Denmark or other Nordic countries. 

While significantly larger with nearly 37,000 students, Copenhagen University has 5.2 percent international students.

Already in 2018, the University of Southern Denmark closed one English-language programme and converted two others from English to Danish after the Danish government ordered universities to reduce the number of international students.

Harrits said she found the possible closure of English-language programmes drawing international students to provincial areas to be puzzling when paired with the intention to decentralise education.