International schools are generally considered as schools that serve the needs of an expatriate population and provide a predominant internationally recognised curriculum. The most popular international curriculums offered are International Baccalaureate, UK and American curriculums.
With these different curriculum models, how do you know which one best meets the needs of your child?
The first thing to consider is the curriculum itself. Professional educators will generally agree that any of the above mentioned curriculum models are based on high-quality teaching and learning practices. They prepare students for top universities in the world.
The arguments against any particular curriculum model are generally based on personal experiences. Parents from the UK are naturally going to lean towards a curriculum they are comfortable with, while American parents tend to lean towards IB or American curriculum models.
Regardless of the curriculum model, a high-quality international school should aim to develop well-rounded, globally-minded students who can think critically. Modern and progressive education is about whole-person development. With this in mind, good international schools have extensive programs that encourage students to actively participate in sports, the arts and also community service. Strong international schools have a belief that global citizens contribute to their communities through service leadership.
Credibility is an important factor in choosing an international school for your child.
Here are a couple of things to look for in a good international school:
Student Achievement: International schools must lead with a rigorous curriculum that stretches students to maximize their potential. Here are some questions to ask regarding student achievement:
· Does the curriculum develop critical thinking?
· How do they do this?
· Is instruction driven by data?
· What if your child does not understand an idea or concept? Is extra help available?
Keep in mind, rigorous curriculum does not mean extensive test taking. It means deep, rich learning that is monitored closely and adapted to ensure students are achieving their very best.
Low Staff Turnover: High staff turnover will often indicate a school climate that has not retained and supported teachers. Although this is quite common in the start up years of a new school, it is an important factor in a schools “health check.” Teachers that are happy where they are teaching are happy because they feel supported through resources, professional development and strong leadership.
Stable Administration: Research will tell you that the number one key factor that impacts student achievement is school leadership. Even the finest teachers will only teach to their capacity when they are led and supported by a good principal/headmaster and administrative team.
Open and Transparent Communication: Good schools create climates of openness and transparency. A parent organization that encourages meaningful participation reflects a healthy school climate. In addition, an administration that admits mistakes, solves problems and genuinely cares about the needs of all students, teachers and parents is equally as important. If you feel as if answers to questions are guarded or crafted, consider this as a “red flag.”
Reputation: The network of parents who communicate openly their opinions about schools is an invaluable marketing strategy for schools. Good schools rely on this. With that, be careful of “loud minorities.” They are the marginal groups of parents and teachers who may never be pleased. Do your homework and ask many people’s opinions. Speak to students, parents and teachers to get a complete picture of whether reputation matches reality.