CHOOSING A SCHOOL
Once you have seen the prospectus and web site of the schools it is important to be shown around the short-listed schools’ campus when you are on your pre-visit trip to the country. Ideally you make an appointment with the principal and talk to other parents (e.g. call the PTA representative), students and staff. Try to absorb the atmosphere, visit a class, observe behavior and attitude of students towards staff and teachers towards students and ask as many questions as possible. Remember: you are a prospective customer!
– Depending on the history of the school, this can be predominantly American, British, Australian, Canadian or any other nationality with their relevant focus on their own country’s history and geography.
– A good way to judge the national influence of a particular group is to check the nationality of the teaching staff
– Which facilities provided: computer, sport, music, drama, dance etc.
– There are many different tests and exams and their availability and acceptance in your home country may be important for your child’s choice of university and career. Check your own country’s requirements and ask for written acceptance of your child’s choice of program to ensure reintegration.
– Find out about the percentage of graduates attending college and the colleges they attend.
Sometimes smaller schools do not offer programs for higher students to prepare them for college. Inquire about the support and advisory system of the school for students in their final years of preparation before college and about extra curriculum activities offered.
– The teacher-student ratio in international schools is often much lower and closer to those of private schools. However, the cross-step of classmates frequently shows a higher educational background of the internationally usual two-parent family with children motivated to achieve higher grades.
– Competition is high and the grades of your child may initially be lower than at home. The extra attention provided by teachers of a small class is an additional advantage for your child. Note the average age of staff to evaluate experience and dynamic and spend time in a class to see if their is a teacher-pupil rapport.
– Generally children are placed according to their age rather than their academic achievements to avoid social problems within their class. Australians often face placement problems as school begins at a different time of the year. Their children often end up with children one year younger.
– Be confident and challenge the grade placement, as you know your child best, rather than having the school admit their misjudgment at a later stage. Do not be over worried about language problems, which are often cited as reasons for a lower placement than expected. Children catch up fast and will generally be able to cope sooner than you anticipate.
Governing of Schools
Ask for the schools “self studies” for evaluation. International schools normally are independent and do not have to answer to any outside supervisor but only to their embassy or other elected board. Be prepared to get involved in matters of curriculum and other aspects like school trips, choice of books, etc., by joining the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).