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Writing and Consulting for The Good Schools Guide International

The Good Schools Guide International is an online subscription guide covering schools (for ages 3-18) catering to English-speaking expatriates in roughly 73 cities in 41 countries. It's the only schools guide in the world that is completely independent with all reviews written by our own editors. Schools can neither pay to be in the Guide, nor choose whether or not to be included.

We're looking for parents who are (native English-speaking) ex-pats, and who may not be educational professionals but are experienced in looking at and dealing with schools for their own children

Above all, we are looking for snappy, fun-to-read writers, who write like they talk, can research (through the school materials but mostly from talking to other parents) and then visit a school, and finally combine all of that information and their own opinions into a sharp, interesting, well-constructed review, written in a brisk and even  irreverent style.  

The writer needs to have the ability to tell about a school truthfully but very much from his/her own point of view and those of the parents s/he talks to about it (very important part...the information does not just come from school visits.  In fact, the visit is the last part of the puzzle). The idea is to give distant prospective parents an inside view, and information they cannot glean for themselves by just reading the school's own PR materials or the straight regurgitated facts from other guide books.  

The Good Schools Guide International covers schools worldwide that cater to the English-speaking expatriate population. It’s published by Lucas Publications, who also publish the UK-based Good Schools Guide. In case you're not familiar with the latter, it’s a breezy, subjective guide written by parents for parents about state, private, junior and senior schools in the UK. The reviews are unsolicited, selected and paid for by the guide and not the school. The decision to review a school is determined well before the school is contacted, largely as a result of parental word-of-mouth and enthusiasm, plus background research of available materials.

Since 'good' can mean many things to parents with all kinds of children, when the GSG says 'good,' it means any school that parents would move to be close to, or change their lives in some way to get their children into it. Reviews are written as if one parent who liked the school were recommending it, warts and all, to another parent...and in such a way that parents can read between the lines to determine whether it is right for their child. It might be an intensely competitive academic school, perfect for the highly motivated overachiever, or it might be a school that does a great job of finding a place for every type of student. The thing is that the parents of the children there really love it.

Lucas Publishing decided to develop an international guide when informal research indicated that there was no guide quite like this available to English-speaking families moving abroad. 

Unlike The Good Schools Guide, which started and still is in printed book form (as well as online), the GSGI has been a web site from the very first. Like The Good Schools Guide site, which has free links to every school in the UK, the GSGI site has free links to British, American and international schools in each country we cover.  

Access to the GSGI-selected school reviews, country and city expat survival articles, transitioning information and other parents' comments is available only by subscription.  

We are looking for knowledgeable parents in various countries who know the schools where they live and can write about them, but who would be willing to advise parents needing overall educational and even cultural advice about the country to which they're moving. 

Payment

Our writers work on a freelance basis reviewing the best schools in their countries (or city), and write about them for a flat fee per school.  The reviews will be published on the website.  In total, each writer is paid to write: 

  • A write-up on each school the writer (and local parents) deems worthy of review
  • an overview about the educational situation in his/her host country 
  • an article about living as an expat in that country 
  • a list of all local schools expats might choose (good or bad) 
  • these are in addition to serving as that city's GSGI education consultant, as needed (details below)

Generally, one writer covers a city, and writes about all local English-speaking school systems even though the systems can be quite different. Most writers either are, or easily become, familiar with both systems (the American and British being the most different from each other), and are able to write about them with authority.

School Write-ups

Briefly the process works like this: Through numerous conversations, a writer ascertains from enough other parents (and their children) that a school really is considered locally to be good. Then he or she talks to parents from the school in question to make sure their opinions live up to local reputation. 

If so, the writer schedules a visit to the school, and interviews as many people as possible there (head, teachers, college councilors, students etc). The writer looks at test scores, where students go when they leave (university, or other local schools), how well they make the transition to schools back home or in their next foreign posting, the state of the physical plant, playing fields, loos, computer labs, art studios etc, interprets attitudes and approaches to problems, bullying, drugs etc, and gets a feel for the school culture and atmosphere generally.

S/he then writes about the whole school in a forthright, conversational, fun-to-read, even irreverent  manner- in fact, exactly as one would chat in person.  (If we seem to be repeating ourselves, we are….for emphasis)

This writing style is very important, and is one of the things that sets the GSGI apart from other guides. The write-up is much more observational than straight fact…facts are mentioned in context with comment (as to how this or that policy, required course, lunch plan, etc works, is liked by parents or students, causes problems, etc). 

All write-ups will include a link to the school’s own site, where most of the obvious facts (lists of courses, sports, clubs, etc) are already published. Your write-up is full of your observations….it is subjective, independent and only available from the GSGI.  

Schools are never rubbished; they're described as clearly as possible so that parents can tell straight out, or read between the lines to determine which is the best one for their child.  

Each writer first comes up with a list of all schools catering to English-speaking expats. 

We don't choose "the best of a bad lot". We review only the schools we feel compare favorably with like schools in the rest of the world. 

If some of the local schools (or even all) are truly bog-standard, or the writer simply cannot find enough parents with children actively attending to develop a reliable picture (the first step before the writer decides whether to make a personal school visit), then s/he includes them in a list called "Schools Considered by Expats" with a few non-committal sentences describing them.

S/he also gives parents guidelines in that country's "Educational Overview" as to pointed questions to ask, information as to how other parents have coped, or tutoring required to make up for inferior class work or teachers. 

This way, readers don't think we've simply overlooked those schools. But only the best are reviewed (and show up on the list with an GSGI icon to show there is a full GSGI write-up). The full list is available on the free part of the site (with details for a refined search on location and various other features), but the full reviews and articles are only available by subscription.  

The important thing is that parents be able to plan for their children's education as well as possible, even if that means there are no good local options in that country (or they’re so good there are endless waiting lists and there isn’t a prayer of getting in), and the parent must turn to home schooling or boarding school….or turn down the posting.

Education Articles

Writers are also asked to write two articles for their city

1. a general overview about the educational situation in his/her host country, which can be written after several (or all!) schools have been visited, by which time the writers should have pretty strong ideas about what general advice and information to give about the whole picture

2. an article about moving to and being an expat in that country - not just a Chamber of Commerce white bread description (available in any guide book) but with real life info that newcomes need such as what weird things are in the local supermarket, how complicated is it to set up your banking arrangements and best places to live for different schools. As an expat, you will know more than anyone what YOU would have liked to know before coming...and what info you're still missing!

Education Consultancies

In addition to the writing, writers are available to serve, as needed and as arranged to suit their own schedules, as GSGI education consultants  to families who are relocating to their host countries. The advice is usually educational initially, but we have found there is likely to be a need for broader advice on a range of subjects...what it's really like to live there, from someone who was new, too, not so long ago.

The consultancy service is run through the Good Schools Guide Educational Consultancy service. Calls or contacts are fielded by the GSG office who set up the arrangements, handle payments from clients and remain in touch with you – working with you to be sure arrangements are satisfactory for you as well as for the client. There is a wide range of rates, determined by the extent of the services you provide; all of that is worked out with you in advance by the office before committing to client.

Obviously anyone using your services expects you to speak with a good bit of authority about specific schools as well as the local educational scene generally. It’s for this reason that all consultants must also serve as the writers…those exhaustive visits, chats with parents and research hours are what make not only for reliable and accurate reviews, they also ensure that you really do know that school and school system very, very well.

What Now?

Once you've read through all of this, and particularly studied the style and tone of the school reviews, and still think you would feel comfortable writing in that style, then let us know and send a CV and a short writing sample about living in your host city (bearing in mind the chatty, informal style of the guide) to [email protected]

We'd love to hear from you!

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