Find the Best International School For Your Child

Chalk and talk schools are a thing of the past. The modern era has ushered in changes in every sphere of life, how could education be left behind? New age schools, known as international schools are taking over. These schools comprise students and staff who come from different cultures and teach syllabi which represent a global perspective. For expats, this could turn out to be the best option. However, don’t mistake any school which offers American, Canadian, the GCSE (British), the IB (International Baccalaureate) or the IGCSE (the international component of the British GCSE) international curriculum to be an international school. Schools which incorporate IB and the IGCSE are truly international schools. In India, you will find that most international schools offer a combination of IB, ICSE and IGCSE.

Is an international school worthwhile? If you’ve ascertained the standard of education in the school and can afford to put your child in one, it definitely is! When compared to the monotonous syllabus and teaching aids used in traditional schools, international schools appear to be a breath of fresh air for the new age learner. International schools in India offer a good mix of cutting edge teaching and internationalism built on the necessary foundations of an Indian culture. Not just that, even after students have completed their education in international schools, they are recognized and even offered scholarships in universities world wide.

Most international schools follow the International Baccalaureate which is accepted as an entrance for universities across the world. One can easily locate International Schools in the major cities of the world, although a few are located in green spaces; hill stations or outskirts of the city with options for boarding as well. International schools offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities that broaden the child’s horizon by offering sufficient academic exposure as well as providing new interests and hobbies.

Finding the right international school for your child could turn out to be tedious procedure. Answer these questions and make the process easier for you:
1. Which accreditation has been awarded to the school?
2. Does the school follow the Indian or American year?
3. What is the background of teachers in the school?
4. What are the activities in store for your child?
5. How will they help the child get used to the latest shift in location?
6. Will transport be taken care by the school itself?
7. What is the kind of food do they serve in the café?

Before you consider the international school directly, log on to its webpage and check all the details available online. Talking to colleagues who have returned after working abroad and have enrolled their kids in schools will help you find the best international school. It is an easy option for expats as well, in case their children are used to studying in an international environment. Remember that, not all children need the same things so it is really important to find the best fit for your child.

International Schools in Mallorca

Bear in mind that many of the international schools in Mallorca have long waiting lists, especially for primary classes.

The thought of disrupting your child’s education, especially during the crucial examination years, can be a real stumbling block for parents planning a new life abroad. Fortunately, the number of international schools offering high-quality education here in Mallorca means that this is not necessarily a problem, especially if you wish your child to receive a British education. In fact, small campuses and reduced class-sizes along with a multi-cultural environment usually means that most children thrive, developing language skills more quickly and effectively and benefiting from the attention of teachers who know the names of every student in the school, never mind the class!

The main difference between the international schools on the island is the language of instruction. Although the majority of the schools here teach in English and follow the British curriculum, there is also a French school and a joint German and Scandinavian college. If you choose your child to be educated in a second language, then obviously he/she needs to either start very young or already have a good knowledge of the language. It’s unrealistic to expect a teenager to integrate into a whole new system of education in a language he/she barely understands and international schools are aware that this scenario is not in the child’s, or the school’s, best interests. Most of the centres require students to sit entrance exams in the core subjects -Maths, English (or another language of instruction) and sometimes Science- and will not accept students who show little understanding of the work their future classmates are doing. Tuition can sometimes provide the answers: if parents promise that their child will have extra curricular language coaching until he/she reaches an acceptable standard, the schools are often flexible. But you have to ask!Also worth bearing in mind is that many of the schools have long waiting lists, especially for primary classes, so it’s better to contact the centres as soon as you know your child will be needing a place. As well as the school fees, there’s often an enrollment fee to consider, payable when you register your child, as well as the cost of any uniform, books and equipment.

British Schools

The Academy was founded in 1985 and is set in seven acres of spectacular grounds, which include playing fields and a swimming pool. Unlike the other international schools, The Academy is situated well outside Palma, but this is compensated by a privileged location with its own sports facilities. The school takes students aged 3 to 16, and from 2007 will offer Cambridge IGCSE exams as well as nursery education for children between 18 months and 3 years old. The language of instruction is English and other subjects offered include Catalan, German, history, geography, Spanish, maths and science.The school offers a huge variety of extra curricular activities, from ballet to guitar, as well as revision and extra help in academic subjects. Students wear a uniform, which is available from the school. For information about current fees, please contact the school.

Baleares International School (B.I.S) celebrates its half century next year. The school offers full-time education to students aged 3 to 18 and follows the British National Curriculum, including Cambridge examinations for students aged 16 and 18. As the school is not licensed to teach the Spanish education system, the majority of the students are English and German and both languages are taught at the school alongside French and Spanish. However, there is also a broad mix of students from many other cultures and countries. Sciences, social sciences, mathematics and computing are also taught, as well as music and art. There is no uniform at B.I.S., although students are expected to dress appropriately for the school environment. Students have some sports facilities on-site, but are also taken to a local sports centre each week. The termly fees start at 1400€, including textbooks, and increase with the child’s age.

Bellver International College was founded in 1950, making it the longest established British school in Spain, and offers the British National Curriculum to students aged 3 to 18. All students are expected to take the Cambridge IGCSE exams at age 16 and the Advanced Levels at 18. The school has students from many nationalities and offers the Spanish system in tandem with the British, so local students are able to take both A Levels and Selectividad (the Spanish university entrance exam, due to be phased out). Students born in Spain also learn Catalan, while those born outside the country take Spanish and French. Extra curricular German is also offered. The sciences, maths and humanities subjects are also offered, with music in the primary school and art in the senior school. The school has limited sports facilities, so all students are bussed to a local sports centre each week. There is a strict uniform code for both normal classes and sports which all students are required to adhere to. Uniforms are sold in the school shop. Termly fees start from 1300€ per term and increase yearly to 2390€ in the last year of school.

King Richard III was known as the American school until 2001 and now teaches the British National Curriculum. Students are taken from 3 years old and continue in the primary school until 11, when they move into the secondary school. At 16 years old, students are expected to sit Cambridge IGCSE exams in the core subjects as well choosing from a range of other subjects from the arts, humanities and sciences. Advanced Levels are taken at 18. The school caters for foreign nationals as well as Spanish-born students, offering both systems of education to Selectividad. Students are expected to wear school uniform and there is a separate sports uniform. Termly fees start from 1600€ and increase yearly as the child moves up the school.

Queen’s College accepts students from 3 to 18 years of age and follows the British National Curriculum. Spanish nationals also have the opportunity to follow the Spanish system. Students study a range of subjects throughout the primary school, before choosing subjects to sit for the Cambridge IGCSE exams, with options including sports as well as the more traditional academic subjects. There is a school uniform and a sports uniform that students wear on their weekly trip to the sports centre.Termly fees start from 1360€ increasing to 2467€.

Schools of Other Nationalities

The College Français de Palma provides a French curriculum based education for students from 3 to 18 years old. The school is licensed and inspected by the French government. Students study English, Spanish and Catalan and all other subjects are taught in French.The majority of the students are native French speakers, although there are a large number of Spanish pupils who are able to follow the Spanish system as well as the French and can take the Selectividad as well as the International Baccalaureate in their final year. Fees start from 830€ per term.

Eurocampus: The German and Scandinavian Schools joined forces in 2003 and now share a site in the El Terreno district of Palma.This small school follows both the German and Swedish education systems for students aged 2 to 14. Although students study many subjects separately according to their nationality, the two schools share Spanish and English classes as well as sports. Eurocampus also works in parnership with the Colegio Français to provide French language classes. The average termly fee is 350€ and only German or Swedish students are eligible to attend.

Not All International Schools Are Created Equal – A Quick and Dirty Guide For Overseas Teachers

Considering the recent unprecedented growth in the number of international schools in the world on top of the abundance already operating worldwide, it is no wonder you might be reeling from the thought of choosing the ‘right’ school for you.

Of course, that is assuming you are already frothing at the mouth to kick-start your international teaching career and that you are looking for clarification of what international teaching is all about and how to break into this select group of educational professionals. If you are not, well why not? Using my teaching credentials to secure a job teaching abroad was the best career decision I have ever made.

But I digress… this is all about helping you get a handle on the different kinds of international schools there are who are looking for international teachers to staff them.

Privately Owned International Schools

Private international schools are essentially businesses with directors who are aiming to make a profit. There is a considerable amount of money to be made in providing private education in areas where the supply is less than demanded.

Many wealthy parents are demanding English language education for their children, and that has lead to the propagation of international schools. This is a particular feature of the Middle East and Asia, where new schools are starting up each year. The year I was looking for my current position there were a total of 5 new schools starting up in Dubai.

The good, the bad and the ugly of private international schools…

The Good – they are plentiful. There are a large number of private international schools to choose from.
The Bad – While it is possible to balance good educational practice with the desire to make substantial profits, it is unlikely that in a knock down fight between the two that the goal of educating the students well will win.
The Ugly – When a school’s continued survival, and consequently profit making potential, is dependent upon tuition money from students, how likely do you think it is that the school will expel students that are negatively affecting the learning of others?

English Speaking ‘International’ Schools

Some schools do not do a very good job of being an international school, rather they should be called English Speaking Schools. In fact, many schools springing up in the Middle East do call themselves just that because most of the students are local.

The student body of an international school should hail from outside the school’s host country. If the majority of the student body is local to the host country, then surely that negates it being an ‘international’ school?

Many international schools put a limit on the proportion of students that can come from the host country. These international schools often have a waiting list for local students.

The good, the bad and the ugly of English Speaking ‘International’ Schools…

The Good – once again, there are a lot of them around, all looking for international teachers.
The Bad – instead of enjoying a multi-cultural classroom with students that are enthusiastic and all have different experiences to bring to class discussions. You will be teaching wealthy children who possibly have no concept of what it is like to have to do things like chores and who may not have any concept of the real world.
The Ugly – you will be teaching a class full of students who will share a common language that you don’t understand, mono-lingual classes being taught subject specific content in a language that isn’t their own can be a real struggle. You are not going into international teaching to work harder than you do at home!

Military Schools

A US Department of Defense (DoD) school is a school that is attached to a military base abroad. The DoD is responsible for providing education for all school aged dependents of all military and civilian employees who are required to live abroad in order to do their jobs.

There are over 100 US Department of Defense schools in Europe, and currently there are 210 schools located around the world in 12 countries. You might encounter the children of military personnel in American schools abroad when there is no DOD school available.

The British Equivalent is Service Children’s Education (SCE) Schools who operate 27 schools world wide with the majority of them situated in Cyprus and Germany. SCE schools are designed to give the students the same kind of education they would receive if living in the UK and attending school there.

The good, the bad and the ugly of Military Schools…

The Good -It is easy to evaluate the package you will receive because you will be employed on a national contract. If you are working for the SCE you will be employed on a British teaching contract, with a few extras. You will also be paid in Sterling. The same goes for a DoD school.
The Bad – TAX! You will have to pay national taxes. One of the benefits that comes with teaching at an international school is that you can pay less tax or work in a tax free environment. When you work for a overseas military school you will be employed ‘in’ the country whose military the school serves.
The Ugly – You’ll be teaching American or British students the relevant curriculum. You will miss out on experiencing a true multi-cultural classroom and all the benefits of teaching international children.

Private Board-Run International Schools

Let’s face it, most international schools are going to be private. What reason would any country’s government have to run a special school for foreign children? I can think of a few and none of them are particularly good!

And so, you’re going to be stuck with a private school. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Private board-run international schools are generally the best of the lot. These schools are run on a not-for-profit basis where any and all profits are usually ploughed back into the school in order to fund future improvements.

The board is often made up of a mixture of local business people and officials (to ease the school’s relationship with officials), parents and teachers. The primary goal of these schools is more likely to be to provide an excellent education for students because you’ve got educators and parents on the decision making body.

The good, the bad and the ugly of Private Board-Run International Schools…

The Good – Good quality education is a priority of the people with the power to make the decisions. You’ll be treated like a professional here.
The Bad – When board members include people who are not trained educators, sometimes they have some trouble prioritising issues the way education administrators would for the good of the whole school.
The Ugly – You’ll sometimes get a power hungry megalomaniac on the board, and once they’re there they can be difficult to oust.

Still, if possible, this is the kind of school you really want to be working for!