However, for families that are not familiar with international schools; how they work and what they offer, it can be difficult to know what to look for and how to identify the best school for your child.
Some international schools do specialize in teaching specific age groups, but for families relocating with children of different ages there are international schools that offers courses for students from the age of 2 to 18 ensuring siblings can attend the same school.
International schools offer a range of qualifications to meet the needs of both international and local communities and the best schools will offer advice on the most appropriate qualification for each student, dependent on their situation.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is perhaps the best-known international qualification, offering programmes for students aged 3 to 19. The guiding principal of the IB is individual, independent learning, which means that students that have not previously studied the programme can be given the appropriate level of support helping them to acclimatize to their new programme of study.
International schools have extensive experience in helping children, and their families, through the relocation transition. Most work closely with their parent body to offer a support partnership to newly arriving students and parents alike, with welcoming committees to provide friendly help and advice to new families. It is also important to bear in mind that whilst the immediate priority for any family relocating abroad is that children become comfortable in the new country, it can also be helpful for children to still have ties to their home country for a smoother transition. Often new students are paired with an existing student of similar age and nationality to help the student become familiar with the school routine and make friends more quickly.
English Language Support
For those whose first language in not English and need help with their English language skills, English as an Additional Language (EAL) support is provided through international schools. For some students, this means regularly scheduled, small group sessions, offered in place of some core subjects. Students generally take these sessions until English proficiency commensurate with their age and a sufficient grade level is achieved.
Guidelines to help you make the right choice of international school
- Do your research whilst you are still in your home country and plan well in advance. Websites and school directories will provide a lot of background information, including their aims, philosophy and values
- Look at the school’s most recent inspection report on the OFSTED website
- Look at indoor and outdoor facilities, class sizes and the ratio of staff to children
- Look at what extra-curricular activities the school offers to ensure that your child’s interests and enthusiasms are nurtured beyond the regular school day
- Visit each school and talk to teachers and classroom assistants
- Talk to other parents who have children at the school you are considering; listen to the positives and negatives that they have to say
- Once you have chosen your child’s school, get involved and get to know the staff and other parents
If you are looking for an international school in the UK, look no further than ACS International Schools, a group of independent schools with three campuses in and around London.