Barbados

Housing

Finding a house to be your home is one of the most important things to do once you arrive on the island. As with all moves there are a lot of things to take into consideration, and finding what suits your family best may take a little time.

Before you make a decision, please feel free to contact Outpost at outpostbarbados@yahoo.com . We would be happy to chat with you about any concerns or questions you may have.

Shell West will help you with a consultant/agent to facilitate the house hunt, but do speak to families that live here to get advice on areas and facilities. A few points that may help:

1. Write a list of what is essential to you as well as things that would be a bonus and clearly state this to your agent. 

  • Is the fourth bedroom a must, or just nice to have? (You will find plenty of three bedrooms on the island but the four bedrooms can be few and far apart)
  • Is a pool a must? (Or the landlord would be willing to install one)
  • Proximity to the office or school/nursery will have a large impact on your daily routine as traffic on the island can be extremely slow. Hence it is a good idea to test drive and time the route during peak hours (7-9:30AM and 3-6PM)
  • Beach properties are both expensive and highly sought after, hence you will get more bang for your buck with a couple of minutes walk to the beach. Also beach front properties can suffer from a more opportunistic crime than other areas.

2. As areas develop on the island it is increasingly possible to find lovely neighbourhoods in all parishes, however check for vacant plots and abandoned buildings and do ask your consultant/agent and state agents for advise to limit the risk of ending up next to a building site.

3. Contracts will be handled by your consultant/agent, but is good to know that in most cases the landlord will need to agree to a Shell contract. Take a look at the requirements Shell have in terms of security and child safety, so you can easier understand what needs to be change or added to the house. Also, you may want to negotiate what is included in the rent.

4.  a. If you have not reached your budget the landlord may include water and electricity.

     b. Upkeep of pool and garden is often included and highly recommended.

     c. Pest control on regular basis may be possible to arrange.

5. Get involved in the negotiations. You will find that some state agents are more reluctant to negotiate than in another country, but that does not mean the owner would not consider a lower offer. You will find owners that refuse to budge on a price even though their property has been empty for a long time. Unfortunately deals fall through after you may feel they are done. Hence try to keep a cool head and an open mind to compromise.

6. Other things to consider are weather patterns and terrain. Low-lying areas are prone to flooding during rainy season. Living by the sea can mean salt air causing damage to your personal belongings and still standing water are breeding places for mosquitoes. The wind usually blows from an easterly direction, so the East Coast is known to be a bit cooler. Inland hills can block the West Coast from these cool breezes so the temperatures are a bit warmer. The rain patterns also varies with the inland, East coast and central parishes receiving more rain annually than the South and West Coast areas.

Schooling

Education System

The education system in Barbados is loosely based on the British schooling system, with great emphasis placed on academic achievement by examinations. Basic academic levels in the core subjects are highly rated according to international standards. School uniforms are compulsory.

The primary grade levels are known here as ‘infants’ and ‘juniors’. The child must be 4 by September 1 before he/she will be accepted at primary school.

Primary school leads to the Common Entrance Examination (commonly known as the 11+), written at age 11. Results from this exam are used to place students in secondary schools. Students with the highest marks are eligible for selection to the ‘best’ secondary schools on the island. Secondary school is for five years (grades 7 – 11), leading to the Caribbean Examination Council examinations (CXC’s, roughly equivalent to the British GCSEs or ‘O’ Levels). This is followed by two years at CAPE or ‘A’ Level. Note that education in Barbados is not mandatory past the age of 16, but CAPE is required for university.

Contact information for all government schools can be found in the blue pages of the telephone directory under “schools”.

Space in some schools is scarce. Register your child as soon as you know that you are moving to Barbados.

It is sometimes better research online and or speak to outpost and apply to 2 or 3 schools and then make a decision on arrival as opposed to waiting and then finding the school you want is full.

Immunization records are required by the Ministry of Health against diphtheria, polio, tetanus and measles as part of registration. Remember them, as children will be denied classroom access if records are not in order.

Parents are encouraged to visit prospective schools to view the physical facilities, location and meet and understand the school’s teaching perspective.

Student Visas

Student visas are required by all children who do not hold residency. The child must be accepted to a school to be eligible for a visa. Forms H-1 and H-2 must be completed (by the school), and a valid passport, birth certificate, proof of parents’ status in Barbados, 3 passport-sized photos and an application fee of $300 are required for Immigration.

The visa must be renewed every year using an H-3 application form (completed by the school), passport, $300 application fee, and the previous student visa. However , if your child is changing his/her school then the H1 and H2 forms must be completed.

Forms must be stamped by the Ministry of Education before they can be taken to the Ministry of Immigration. Some schools with large ex-pat populations will complete that step for you. Be sure to ask the school(s) about Student Visas when you apply. Take care of these early as part of the process requires the handover of passports to the Ministry of Immigration. More information is available from the Assistant Chief Immigration Officer for Student Visas: 434-4171.

Any information or assistance needed in this area including payment for the visas please contact Julie Turney 431 4921 at the office.

Nurseries/ Pre schools

Pre-schools in Barbados differ greatly from one another in terms of education standards and philosophies. Because of the competitive nature of schools on the island, most pre-schools are geared towards helping children enter a “good” school. Most parents choose a pre-school near to where they live. The school day usually ends by 12:30, however some operate as nursery / after-school care in the afternoons. If you have another child at primary or secondary school it is worth checking with them as in the last year schools are now opening their own pre schools.

To obtain the list of nurseries, please contact us directly at outpostbarbados@yahoo.com.

Private Schools (Primary and/or Secondary)

The Codrington School

  • St. John, 423-2570
  • Codrington is located next to the Holy Cross Anglican Church, overlooking Codrington College in St. John and is co-ed at both the primary and secondary level (up to age 18). They offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum and qualification.

Providence Elementary School

  • Francia Plantation, St. George
  • Providence Elementary School is co-ed and accepts children aged 3 – 11. They have recently started accepting boys and girls at the senior level (up to age 16)

St. Gabriel’s School

  • Henry’s Lane, St. Michael, 436-6078
  • St. Gabriel’s is divided into two departments, Infants (ages 4-7) and Juniors (ages 7-11). The school is co-ed and was founded as an Anglican school.

St. Winifred’s School

  • Pine Hill Rd., St. Michael, 429-3661
  • St. Winifred’s has co-ed Prep and Junior Departments (ages 4 – 11) and a co-ed Senior department, teaching up to CXC (age 16). The senior department was originally all girls but more recently  they have started accepting boys.

The Ursuline Convent (“St. Angela’s”)

  • Culloden Rd., St. Michael, 426-5571
  • St. Angela’s accepts boys and girls aged 3 – 11. The secondary school, St. Ursula’s, is all-girls. Catholic religious instruction is provided at all levels, but respect is upheld for other denominations and religions.

Wills Primary

  • Elcourt House, Maxwell Main Road, Christ Church, 418-9833
  • Wills Primary is co-ed and accepts children aged 3 – 11. There is no secondary school associated with the school.

When considering schools, it is a good idea to do the school run as the schools nearer to Bridgetown can encounter traffic depending on the time you leave home. Also please see the Outpost directory to get an idea where others are sending their children. Don’t hesitate to call the person to ask any questions as they were once in that position and welcomed all the advice.

Government Schools (Secondary)

The Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Culture produces a comprehensive guide to all government-run secondary schools. The guide is available free from the Ministry. In addition to providing information on the schools, it contains details of the educational process in Barbados, and enrolment forms. Ministry offices are located on Constitution Road in Bridgetown. The guide can be picked up from the Exam Section, Monday to Friday between 8:30 and 4:30.

Speak to other Shell members for recommendations and suggestions on schools. Have recent report cards and examples of work for when you visit schools, and have your children prepared to take placement tests.

Two of the renowned secondary schools are Harrison College and Queen’s College.

Harrison College

  • Crumpton St., St. Michael, 426-4542
  • Harrison is a co-ed secondary school located in Bridgetown. It is known as a strong academic school with emphasis on independent learning. Harrison offers studies up to the CAPE level.

Queen’s College

  • Husbands, St. James, 424-9960
  • Queen’s College is a co-ed secondary school located near Holder’s Hill. It has a reputation for being modern, and more North American-styled compared to other schools on the island. Studies are offered up to the CAPE level.

St. Michael’s School

  • St. Michael,  426-3116
  • This school is also a co-ed secondary school and only offers education up to O’ Levels.

It has been noted that there may be some difficulty in translating CAPE marks when it comes to applying to universities. Make early contact with the International Student Services department of any university to which your child wishes to apply to, in order to find out what requirements are necessary, as well as what documents are required and when.

Tertiary

University of the West Indies (“UWI”)

  • Cave Hill, 425-1310
  • UWI is a regional university serving the English-speaking Caribbean countries. The University has three campuses: Mona (Jamaica), St. Augustine (Trinidad) and Cave Hill (Barbados). Through its three campuses, the University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Among other courses and classes offered, Cave Hill hosts UWI’s Faculty of Law.

Barbados Community College (“BCC”)

  • Howell’s Cross Rd, St. Michael, 426-2858
  • BCC offers a wide range of courses in academic, vocational and technical areas as well as offering associate and bachelor’s degree programs. For a complete list of courses offered, visit their website (http://www.bcc.edu.bb/)

Boarding School

There is no Boarding schools in Barbados, so children will have to be sent to a school either in their home  country or elsewhere. Payment of fees is part of the contractual package and should be discussed with HR.

Healthcare

Prophylaxis

Be aware that HIV/Aids is a cause for concern in the Caribbean, so Prophylactics are highly recommended and easily available in most supermarkets.

Clinics-Hospitals

First Aid and emergency treatment – The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Martindale Road, Bridgetown is the main centre for 24-hour Medical emergencies.  There are smaller centres at the FMH Emergency Medical Clinic, 3rd Avenue Belleville, St. Michael and also the Sunset Crest Medical Centre, Holetown. 

Specialists

These usually require a referral from the patient’s General Practitioner.  There are many types of specialist and they tend to congregate in one particular area of Bridgetown (Belleville).  It is often fairly easy to have tests done, with shorter waiting times.  It is also possible that local health insurers (BUPA) can arrange for tests in the base country, if required.

Health and Safety

Security

It is wise to take sensible precautions for personal safety and effects. There are similar risks to those of any large city.

 

Wildlife – There are wild Monkeys on the Island, which should not be approached, as the adult males are very protective of their family group.  Centipede bites need medical treatment.  Be aware of Sea Urchins and Jellyfish in the ocean, which can cause pain. 

 

Plants – There are some plants and trees, which are dangerous.  The Manchineel tree produces small apples, which are poisonous, and blister the skin badly.  These are generally marked with a painted red trunk (on beaches) and you should not shelter under them during rain showers as the rain drops coming off the tree can have the same effect.  There are various other plants with Caustic sap, which are dangerous to children.  Also, be very careful under Breadfruit and Coconut palms because falling fruits and fronds can cause serious injury. 

 

Be aware that Dengue is of some concern and is a mosquito born virus.  http://www.searo.who.int/en/Section10/Section332/Section1026.htm provides answers to frequently asked questions about Dengue.

 

Outpost Barbados

Focal point: Susanna Wilcock
Office hours: By appointment
Languages: English, Dutch, French
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