Mexico and the UK – high school children are our ambassadors
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Mexico and the UK – high school children are our ambassadors

The governments of Mexico and the United Kingdom have declared 2015 “The Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom” and “The Year of the United Kingdom in Mexico.” The idea is to promote exchange and cooperation, and the two governments are planning exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and joint research projects in the UK during the year.

Separate from that agreement, but still showing the tightening links between the two countries, a memorandum was signed at Mexico’s National Palace in the presence of President Peña Nieto and the Prince of Wales that for the first time recognises and accredits academic studies between the two countries.

At the moment, the UK is the fifth most popular destination for Mexican university students.  For obvious reasons, the UK trails behind the US for Mexican students, but although the UK is so much further away, it does have one major advantage:  it is a very attractive place to study both in terms of safety and prestige.

The crime rate at home has influenced Mexican attitudes toward outbound mobility, notably in that a destination’s safety profile has risen in importance. According to a 2013 Guardian article, on a list of reasons Mexican students chose the UK as a study destination, safety rose from being 17th most important factor in 2007 to fifth in 2012.

Those concerns are echoed by Pew Research Center data, in which crime is the number one worry for Mexican citizens. In the same survey, education comes ninth on the list of concerns, with 52% of people saying poor quality schools are a “very big problem.”

Mexico’s middle class has grown in recent years, and as a result household investment in education has increased by approximately 43% between 2002 and 2011. Mexico is expected to number in the world’s top 20 countries for overall higher education enrolment by 2035, which means families’ ability and willingness to send their children abroad for schooling – already increasing – will likely follow the same path.

What is particularly interesting is the increase of families sending not only their university age children but much younger children to UK independent boarding schools.  The earlier the better is the reasoning and children joining the UK education system at school level and then progressing on to UK or US universities are likely to be much better integrated and more successful educationally.

Here at Taunton School, we have students from 44 different counties within our 1107 strong student body this year. We are proud to be a traditional British Boarding School with a very welcoming approach to international students. There are many trends and changes that happen in the flow of international students into the United Kingdom but we can also see that currently one of the most  exciting and important is the growing popularity of Taunton School in Latin and North America. There are many reasons for this but chief amongst them is the outstanding pastoral care delivered for young people being educated so far from home and, the broad range of academic courses, allowing the correct level of support to be delivered for each individual student’s needs.

Over the past three years, Mexican students have started to recognise the value of what is on offer in Taunton School and we are currently home to four talented and vibrant students, three of whom are studying on the One Year Pre IB/GCSE course at Taunton School International, with the fourth in our International Middle School for younger students aged 8 – 14.

The three boys, Angel, Johnny and Emilio, have proven to be tremendous sportsmen with Johnny claiming the prestigious title of “Rugby Player of the year” and Emilio doing exceptionally well in football. Both boys have secured places in Senior School teams and, only a few weeks ago, Emilio was awarded Student of the Week for his participation and dedication to the Senior School A Football team.   Angel has been awarded the position of school prefect, due to his strong moral compass and desire to act as a role model and mentor to the other students. All three boys are incredibly popular amongst their peers and have integrated fully into British Boarding School life. An example of this was a recent International Food Evening when all three boys cooked Mexican food for hundreds of British and International students, receiving fantastic feedback from their peers about their delicious and very spicy Mexican offering.

In the year of Mexico in the United Kingdom, Taunton School is proud to be doing its bit and these boys are certainly great ambassadors for their country!

Caroline Nixon,

International Recruitment Director,

Taunton School.