British School Placement and Guardianship Care

T. +44(0)131 331 3317 +44(0)131 331 3317

The Academic Families team work closely together to ensure your child’s safety and enjoyment.

Our team understands international students’ requirements and the strengths of individual UK schools and are able to match both together and provide all the ongoing guardianship care our students require. The key people you will meet include –



Lorna Clayton, Director and Founder

Lorna founded Academic Families in 2012 following her 13 year overseas career in Australia, South America and East Africa. She trained Kenyan Guide Leaders and founded a Kenyan education charity in 1993, funding and placing needy students in education. With 20+ years’ business experience, as well as an expat mother, Lorna leads the Academic Families team to deliver our premier personal and professional service. As a British Council trained Agent, Lorna’s knowledge and expertise ensures that our students receive the best possible advice and support leading to their educational success.

Lorna and her team are recognised by the British Council, AEGIS, English UK and Youth Mental Health England for their top-quality service.  

Roni Jennings - Operations Manager, Child Protection Officer

Roni heads our Placement and Guardianship teams and is our designated Child Protection Officer.

Roni’s extensive experience of international education includes 20+ years teaching in British curriculum international schools, latterly as Deputy Head in Kenya. Her great insight into the challenges international children face when moving cultures, curriculum and learning styles enables her team to ensure your child understands the best ways to school success and happiness. As a British Council trained Agent, Roni fully supports our parents make their best educational decisions. Her expertise placing students in closely matched schools ensures their happiness and success and her role as Child Protection Officer, always putting each child’s welfare foremost ensures their safety and wellbeing.

Louise Brunton - Business Development Manager

Louise is a global Scot having spent most of her life living outside the UK in SE Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Working for international travel and relocation companies has developed Louise’s cultural intelligence ensuring her excellent international understanding and relationships.

Coming to the UK for her own boarding school education and selecting the best boarding schools for her own 3rd culture children has given Louise a wealth of personal and professional experience. She is a great support to our parents – understanding their dilemma of choosing the right education for each child. Louise is responsible for introducing our services to families around the world, ensuring we provide the support they need.

Sophie Clayton - Guardianship Manager

Sophie’s early education was in Kenya before moving to the UK to complete her education. Sophie swam competitively at national level then taught and coached swimming for 7 years at top schools and clubs including Loughborough University. Her natural teaching skills and easy rapport with our students ensure their education goes beyond the classroom as they develop their independence safely and happily. On graduating, she travelled through SE Asia and worked in Australia before returning to the UK.

Sophie manages our Guardianship support and is responsible for our students’ UK arrangements and safety when they are not at school. She is supported by a team of Area Managers providing local guardianship support throughout the UK. As a British Council certified Agent, Sophie has comprehensive knowledge of the UK education system, visa regulations and best business practice ensuring our families are professionally supported at all times.

Lisa Guo – Chinese Language Support

After a business career in China, Lisa came from Beijing to the UK in 2001. Now married with a school age son, Lisa’s first-hand knowledge of both education systems enables her to support our Chinese families understand everything you need to know about UK education and culture. She also ensures our schools understand some of the cultural background our students come from so everyone learns together!


Debbie Spens – Counsellor

Debbie’s 30 year career within boarding education has given her great experience of the issues facing our international students as they adapt to and benefit from their boarding education.

Debbie’s career includes Special Educational Needs teaching with a special interest in pastoral care within the school boarding community, teaching PSHE and training Mindfulness in Schools. Debbie is a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and has trained the Academic Families team to ensure we understand how to best support the wellbeing and mental health of our students. Debbie’s post graduate diploma in Careers Guidance enables her to work as a Careers Advisor and consultant for UK and international boarding schools.



Tracy Williams – Area Manager

Tracy has lived for many years in both Germany and the UK. She always has an open-door welcome for young people and a constant stream of her daughter’s friends through their many homes has given Tracy a real understanding of the evolving support required for children as they become young adults. Tracy is a wonderful advocate for young people and will ensure your child has the best experience here in the UK.


Laura Halford-Macleod – Area Manager

Laura’s four children all boarded since the age of 8 while the family lived overseas in Germany and Oman. She understands well the challenges facing families when parents and children live on different continents. As a great supporter of boarding education, Laura has a hands-on approach to supporting our international students develop their independence whilst maintaining strong connection with their parents – and especially mum!


Area Managers

Our team of local Area Managers have many years’ experience living overseas and educating their own children in the UK.


Language Supporters

Our Language Supporters understand the challenges moving to a new country, culture and language from their personal experience and translate more than words to support our families.




Meet the Team


Head Office, 111 Swanston Rd,
Edinburgh EH10 7DS

Registered Office
1 Wester Dalmeny Steading,
Dalmeny, Edinburgh EH30 9TT

T. +44(0)131 331 3317


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