International education is growing globally as parents seek to give their children the best start possible in what is an ever more competitive world. When looking at international education parents need to take into account a number of things. How international is the school? What are the qualifications of the teaching body? Is parental involvement encouraged? Is the school officially accredited and recognised within the international community?
An international school should have a healthy mix of children from different ethnic backgrounds to enhance the internationalism of the school environment. All teachers need to be fully qualified with both a degree from a good university and a recognised teaching qualification. The teachers should ideally be native English speakers and have a number of years’ experience teaching their subject in their native country.
In preparing children for the modern world parents need to be looking for a school offering a holistic approach to education, one that links the academic progress of the child to their pastoral and spiritual development. Schools that look to develop well-rounded global citizens with both academic prowess and the soft skills required by the world of work.
It is key that you find a school that welcomes parents. It is the strong relationship between parents, their children and the school that guarantees the child will make the best possible progress. If all three strands of this relationship work together then children will feel supported in what they do, and this is critical to their learning. Parents who listen to a child read every night and ask questions about their work at school support the teacher and help to give the child confidence. Teachers who give regular feedback to parents create a relationship where the child is central.
International recognition and accreditation from recognised bodies are eagerly sought by international schools, for example CIS (the Council of International Schools) and COBIS (Council of British International Schools). These ensure that independent schools meet internationally agreed standards of good quality.
The accreditations also mean that a school has undergone a rigorous self-assessment process before submitting its findings to these external organisations for scrutiny. Parents can be reassured that schools awarded such accreditations have been checked thoroughly to ensure the education being offered is of a high standard internationally.
The curriculum offered can differ from school to school, and parents are often confused about which is the best. What is important is choosing the curriculum that is right for your child. Selecting a school where the teachers are experienced in delivering that curriculum and have the skills to ensure that all children can make progress, no matter what their level of language or ability, is vitally important.
One curriculum offered is the English National Curriculum, which culminates in students sitting IGCSEs and A-levels, the most popular and recognised examinations in the world. These are accepted by universities in over 150 countries and are the gold standard of world education.
It is also good to note that wherever you are in the world you can find a school offering IGCSEs and A-levels, so moving from country to country will not necessarily hinder your child’s education.
When looking for a place for your child it is important that you visit the school and ask the right questions of the senior management. Most importantly, you must feel comfortable in the school and feel confident that they will care for your child and ultimately ensure that your child fulfils their potential. When your child feels safe, challenged and happy at school, they will ultimately become the best they can be.