International Schools – What to Think About When Moving Abroad

When considering a child’s education in a foreign land most countries offer three alternatives: state schools, private schools and international schools. This article concentrates mainly on the potential benefits and drawbacks of international schools although some consideration is also given to the state school option.

Classes in international schools are usually taught in English and academic results are generally very good. The curriculum is most often British or American in style with the use of high school grades and SAT scores or International GCSEs at age 15/16 and A Levels or the International Baccalaureate at 17/18, the latter being recognized by universities worldwide. Subjects taught are also similar to those taught in the US or UK.

Almost all international schools are fee paying (although grants and scholarships may be available) and fees can be considerable. Average fees for a day school are around EUR 10,000 per year but it should be borne in mind that fees generally increase as the pupil grows older. For example, the average fees for children aged 12 or over are around EUR 20,000 per year. Furthermore, fees for boarding (as opposed to day) schools are much higher. In addition to yearly fees it may also be wise to consider the other expenses which are likely to be incurred when sending a child to an international school. These expenses might include a registration fee, purchase of a uniform, insurance, activity fees and transport.

Given the prohibitive cost, why do some expats choose international schools for their children’s education? Sometimes they are the only choice if foreigners are not permitted to attend local state schools (as is the case in the United Arab Emirates) or if the state schools are full. Many parents are also concerned about the effect learning a new language and adapting to a new culture are likely to have on both their child’s education and happiness. Typically young children take these challenges in their stride but older children may struggle or feel alienated. Another benefit of attending an international school is that it gives the parents a chance to meet other expats!

However, not all expats choose international schools and the state school option may in fact be preferable in some cases. Apart from the obvious cost savings a local state school is a superb place for a child to learn the new language and many expats find that their children are often fluent in the local lingo within a very short period of time. Speaking the language and adapting to a new culture are not only of immediate benefit but may also be useful in the longer term if the family decides to stay in the new country.

International schools can be found in or near most of the popular expat destinations. In other areas they may be more difficult to find. If possible try to choose a school affiliated with a respected international school association as they are more likely to meet minimum requirements as far as teaching or facilities are concerned.

Many international schools have waiting lists so it is always a good idea to enrol as soon as possible, a process which may involve entrance exams (most commonly in English and Maths).

International Schools

‘International School’ is the term used to refer to an educational institution that promotes ‘international education in an international atmosphere’ by adopting a required curriculum or syllabus which differs from the country where the school is operational.

Such schools function mainly to teach students who are not nationals or citizens of the host country; they are ideally suited for children of people employed in foreign embassies or missions, international business organizations etc. Local students from the region around the school who wish to obtain a degree or suitable qualifications for further studies or a career, are also given admission into schools.

History

The concept of an international school began in the second half of the 19th century when they were set up in countries like Japan, Switzerland, Turkey and some others for families that travelled extensively, like missionaries, NGOs, embassies etc. These schools were set up with the help and assistance of the particular establishment that required the schools – e.g. defense establishments, scientific communities, diplomatic missions etc. – and based on the specific country’s school curriculum.

In due course, globalization and technology have created a spurt in schools around the world to cater to the increased movement of people around the world for work, business and other purposes; such movement has created generations of children living away from their country of origin and has necessitated the presence of international schools. In this context, improved national schools alone do not spell success; the benchmark for success depends on the educations systems that perform best internationally.

Criteria for an international school

In 2009, the International Association of School Librarianship decreed that an international school had to fit the following criteria:

• Multinational and multi-lingual student community

• A moving population of students

• Transferability of the student’s education – e.g. credits – across international schools

• International curriculum or syllabi

• International accreditation – e.g. International Baccalaureate (IB), Council of International Schools (CIS), University of Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education), Schools Services etc.

• A multinational and transient teacher count and number

• Use of English or French as medium of instruction with the option of adding an additional language

• Non-selective student enrolment

Such schools have more or less the same curriculum as state and national schools – arts, humanities, information technology, language, mathematics, physical education, sciences etc. The method and mode of education is highly systemized and depends greatly on a technology induced classroom environment; periodical tests, assessments and grading of students are done on an ongoing basis.

These schools allow continuity in education for children of expatriate families, especially as they grow older. In many countries, relocation services and assistance agencies help expat families find the appropriate international school for their children.

Five Steps to Finding the Best Educational Consultant for Your Student

If you type the phrase “Educational Consultant” into Google, you will get over eight million results. That’s a pretty daunting place to start a search when you need to find the best individual to help your student achieve success. Whether you’re looking for a consultant to help you navigate the maze of special education requirements and Individualized Education Plans or you’re a student from another country trying to find the best college in the United States for your field of study, a good educational consultant can be the difference between success and frustration.

So, once you’ve narrowed down your selection from eight million to a few consultants that you are considering, how do you make that final decision?

Below are five things to consider when trying to find the right consultant.

Licensed Education Psychologist

A licensed educational psychologist is typically a master’s level practitioner who is licensed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). This is a license that is unique to California. The requirement for an LEP is a master’s degree and proof of 3 years of working in the educational system. When you find that someone is a licensed educational psychologist, you know that they have the experience and education to handle the multitude of challenges you may be faced with during the consultation process.

Experience Working With Schools and Individuals

Working with your student’s school is a critical part of most issues that require involvement from an educational consultant. Seeing that this is such an important part of the overall process, it’s best to find a consultant who has worked in schools as a counselor or school psychologist. When you are researching or interviewing a consultant, ask them whether they have this type of experience. If they do it means that they most likely have in-depth familiarity of all steps of the process from both sides of the equation, what tests and assessments are best, what schools look for in certain situations, etc.

Experience in area of need/specialty – (admissions, IEP, Special Education, etc.)

One of the first questions you should ask a prospective consultant is: “Can you give us an overview of your experience dealing with __________________?” Then you can ask them to take through the process step-by-step so you can get an understanding of what you’re up against. This will serve two purposes: 1.) it will educate you to the process; and 2.) it will give you some insight into the consultant’s true understanding of how things will play out. If they can take you through the milestones off the top of their head without hesitation, it usually means it’s not their first rodeo.

Knowledge of Testing/Assessments

Whether you’re trying to get into a top US college or you need to find out if your student qualifies for special educational accommodations under state or Federal laws, assessments are a large part of the process. Sometimes the consultant will be administering these assessments and other times they will be reviewing the results of assessments administered by someone else. You want to make sure that your consultant knows the testing scenarios for your particular area of need backward and forward. To determine this, ask them to describe the testing procedures and briefly explain what each test is trying to determine.

Good Chemistry with Your Student

Make sure the consultant and your student have a good enough relationship to be able to make continual progress. They don’t have to be best friends, but you want to make sure the relationship is strong enough that your student will feel comfortable sharing information about their educational limitations and frustrations. Open communication with your consultant is important to a successful outcome. Ask your student what he/she thought of the consultant during the initial meeting.

There are a lot of excellent consultants available for a variety of educational challenges. The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it can help you quickly identify consultants who are experienced, knowledgeable and have the disposition to work well with your student throughout the process.

Educational Consultants – Assisting Students With the College Search, Applications, & Essays Part 1

The National Association for College Admission Counseling(NACAC) recommends that high school counselors work with no more than 100 students. Most public high school counselors have a student load of at least 350 students. On average, high school counselors spend 38 minutes helping students with the college search, applications, and admissions process.

Educational consultants are not associated with a high school or college. They have the time, training, and expertise to provide individual attention to students with their college search, applications and essays, financial aid and scholarships, and the college admissions process.

Here are five reasons why hiring an educational consultant to work with your high school student might be the best investment you ever made:

1. Educational consultants understand the college admissions process and visit colleges and universities regularly to discover what makes one school different from another. They meet with college admissions officers at each school so they know about the continuous changes that take place on individual campuses.

2. They help your student find colleges that are a good fit, not just a big name. They want your student to be successful in the college admissions process and to have a variety of schools from which to choose. They help families separate the hype from the facts.

3. Educational consultants are able to work successfully with your student because they do not have the emotional investment that parents do. They provide reliable college information and objective advice. They give your family another opinion and try to make the college admissions process as stress-free as possible.

4. They know that applying to college and college admissions can be a time for students to discover themselves. This helps them with the college search and encourages students to make better college decisions.

5. Educational consultants assist students with their applications and essays. They brainstorm topics that will enable your student to write the most compelling essays that will strengthen their applications.

In Part 2, read five more reasons how educational consultants can assist you with the college admission process.