Finding the perfect school for your child can be challenging enough – finding one when you’ve moved halfway around the world, to a place where you know no one, just as a new school year is starting, seems almost impossible.
But that was the case for the Calder family, who moved from a small town in Worcestershire, UK, to the Gold Coast in early 2018.
“My husband Dave was called upon to check out a work opportunity here in October, 2017, and during his week-long stay he did some research into the local residential areas, amenities and of course the glorious beaches, too!” says Joanne Calder. “He called me from a coffee shop and asked what we should do. I said, ‘Let’s go on an adventure!’”
But three months later, when Dave and Joanne touched down in Australia with two of their three children, Jack (then 12) and Annabella (then 6), in tow – they left their eldest daughter Jess behind in the UK to start her university degree – they both felt the pressure of having to organise their new life in one short week.
“We had to sort out everything from cars to Medicare, school uniforms to furniture before school started and my husband’s work commenced,” explains Joanne. “It was a crazy time!”
Dave and Joanne wanted a school that would welcome them as a family and help them settle into a new culture, while also providing a wealth of opportunities for their children. Having Jack and Annabella (known as Bella) be exposed to new subjects and activities was important to the couple, and they wanted their children to feel encouraged to become part of their school’s community.
With a limited schedule, they had no time to spare – before moving, Dave and Joanne had narrowed their search to two local private schools, but it was Coomera Anglican College that ticked all of their boxes.
“Coomera Anglican College just spoke to my heart!” says Joanne. “We have two very different children with very different interests, learning styles and goals. We knew that they would both be fully supported and encouraged there.”
At the time of publication, tomorrow will be the Calder family’s third Australia-versary, and the end of this month will mark the start of the fourth year of schooling at Coomera Anglican College for Jack and Bella.
Joanne says that Jack very much enjoys his studies, particularly business, and is an active member in the school rock band as the rhythm guitarist.
“He’s performed at a number of school events and has even co-written some of the songs,” says Joanne. “He is also looking to challenge himself further in leadership as he progresses in his final two years of school.”
Bella, on the other hand, took a little longer to settle in, but with the support of the Coomera Anglican College community and the guidance of Mr Henderson – who shared with her his own experience of moving to Australia as a child – she has made so many beautiful connections.
“I will never forget the care and love that has been shown to us,” says Joanne. “Bella is an active member of CAC netball academy and they are an amazing community to be a part of – so many life lessons and skills are learnt from being involved in sport. I personally love that.”
Despite the pressure of finding the perfect school for their children in just one short week, Joanne is confident she and Dave made the right decision.
“We have seen them grow tremendously over the past three years, achieving so much through their education and life skills – it’s beautiful to witness,” says Joanne. “Bringing two children into a different country where we knew no one – and leaving behind our beautiful loving families in the UK – was a very overwhelming experience, but we are a family that embraces growth, experience and adventure. We are delighted to be part of the Coomera Anglican College community.”
Find out more at www.cac.qld.edu.au.