When you move your family to a new country, choosing the right schools for your children can be one of the most difficult tasks. Learning about an unfamiliar education system and finding answers to your questions can be tricky, especially if there’s a language barrier.
Many countries allow expats access to school places within their own state system, but another option to consider is sending your child to an International School. These schools provide international education and a different curriculum to the country in which they are situated. An International Schools Consultancy (ISC) global report in 2014 estimated that there will be over 5 million students in international schools by 2019.
Students who attend an International School aren’t required to speak the native language, which you may consider to be a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint. Students work towards qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International examinations. If your child is subject to numerous moves during their school years, the continuity of curriculum within international schools minimises disruption.
International Schools have a broad cultural mix, enabling students to build relationships with peers from all around the world. This is considered a huge benefit by many parents who believe it is positive to expose their children to the wider global community. Some feel this gives children a head start when it comes to entering the international workforce.
As with many schools in the public sector, International Schools vary in standards, so it’s important to do extensive research before settling on a school. The Council of International Schools, which is a membership community committed to high quality international education, has a list of their accredited schools, which is helpful.
The Council For British International Schools also has this advice for choosing an International School:
1. Do your research – Find out which schools are available in the area to which you are moving and ask for advice from a variety of organisations and contacts. They suggest: COBIS, other international school associations, your employer and colleagues, the British Embassy and local expatriate organisations.
2. Contact schools as soon as you know that you may be moving abroad – Good schools are often over-subscribed, so the earlier you apply the better.
3. Decide which school is best for your child – Give careful consideration to the curriculum and qualifications offered. Also, review exam results and see which universities former students have attended.
For many parents, International Schools are a good choice for their children’s education abroad. However, as International School fees can be very steep, so if you are moving abroad to take up a new job, it is worth assessing these costs before negotiating your salary. Some employers may pay this as part of their relocation package.
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