Sending your child to a boarding school in a completely different culture from what they’re used to may be a daunting idea, and we understand this fully at Academic Families. We provide services of Admissions, Guardianship, and Hosting – meaning we’ll help find your child the best-fit boarding school for them, look after them while they’re here to ensure they’re happy and successful, and provide safe accommodation for them when they need it.
Academic Families launched in 2012 and we have been offering our educational consultancy services in the East African market since 2016. However, our personal ties to East Africa began over three decades ago…
Lorna Clayton, our Managing Director and Founder, first visited Kenya in 1988 for a fun three-week holiday when she was just 25 years old. She travelled with her boyfriend who later became her husband. They both fell in love - with each other and with the country! Through her husband’s work, in 1993 they were given the opportunity to relocate from South America (where they were living at the time) to Mombasa.
With a six-month-old baby when she moved and another one on the way soon, Lorna knows and loves Kenya for its loving and sociable community, remembering it as a great time in her life as a young mother (little did she know that her six-month-old baby would end up working alongside her and leading our Guardianship Team!).
While there, Lorna co-founded a charity called ACTS (Assist a Child To School), which she later extended to a UK branch in 2001. ACTS Kenya focuses on funding education for children in poverty. They set up nurseries and primary schools, organised projects that helped unemployed mothers get work, and had a medical programme for children who were too unwell for school. ACTS Kenya now primarily focuses on the sponsorship of children to go to school, and Academic Families has made a commitment that our future Kenya holiday trips will include visiting these children and their schools. We come away from these visits emotionally touched and motivated to make a difference, and we love now bringing our Academic Families' children with us to experience the same thing.
In 2002, Lorna and her family moved back to the UK after her husband had a change of career and both he and Lorna wanted to be near extended family again. When asked what she misses most about Kenya, Lorna reminisced on the great lifestyle, solid families with polite children who were very sociable and resilient even at a young age. She also misses the hot weather, something that can be quite rare in her home of Scotland.
Lorna’s not the only Academic Families staff member with strong ties to Kenya. Roni Jennings, our Head of International Admissions, also lived in Mombasa – initially moving for a two-year teaching contract in 1993 but ended up staying for 18 years (where she also taught Lorna’s two children how to swim!).
Roni came from an expat background, as her parents had lived overseas for many years in countries such as Oman and Guyana. Shealso attended international schools before returning to the UK for boarding school at St Margaret’s in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Both of Roni’s children were born and educated at school in Mombasa before returning for their secondary education in the UK. Roni has fond memories of her family life in Mombasa, where she enjoyed weekends socialising with friends and soaking up all the coastal town of Mombasa has to offer.
As Head of International Admissions, Roni’s extensive knowledge of the Kenyan schooling system helps greatly when meeting Kenyan families and understanding where they are coming from. In addition, her personal experience of UK boarding schools ensures she knows what to look for when a child or parent has specific criteria for a school.
Academic Families have also committed to visiting Kenya regularly over the past five years, attending various educational fairs and meeting up with families interested in UK education.
In 2023, Academic Families added Kenya to one of the holiday trips offered to international students studying at British boarding schools. This once-in-a-lifetime trip was a great experience for our group of 16 teenagers where they took part in charity and environmental projects in Nairobi, Amboseli and the coast.
What started out as a one-off holiday trip has now become a regular feature in the full selection of escorted trips we take boarding school students on throughout the year. We can’t wait to go back next term!
We’re coming to Kenya again in September and we would love to meet you! We will have three Overseas Boarding School Expos in Nairobi where you can speak with 12 handpicked, top boarding schools who are travelling to Kenya specifically for these events. We will also be in Kampala, Uganda for a Mini-Expo with five UK boarding schools on Monday 25th September at the Sheraton Hotel from 6 pm – 8 pm.
This is a unique opportunity to meet representatives from overseas boarding schools face to face and hear directly from them to learn more about their teaching styles, education standards, living environment, etc. Members from the team at Academic Families will also be there, providing guidance on how we can help your child get placed into the school they want, and how we will look after them once they’re here in the UK. Mark your calendar and register in advance to ensure you can have a private meeting with the schools of your choice.
Both Lorna and Roni are very integral to Academic Families and enjoy meeting new students who come to the UK for boarding school. As two friends who met in Kenya in the 90s, to becoming colleagues at Academic Families when Roni moved back to the UK, they both have endless amounts of information and experience. They would love to chat with any parent who is considering placing their child in a UK school so that they can advise the best possible fit for the child. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or request a call.
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