Here are the next sets of important questions to ask when choosing an international school for your child. You can read the first instalment of this series here.
1. What extra-curriculars do they offer?
Most schools offer extra-curricular activities alongside their traditional core subjects – whether they are international schools or normal schools. Extra-curricular activities offer the perfect opportunity for your child to explore their skills and interests outside of their core subjects.
Schools offer varying numbers of these activities, normally based on their budget and strategy as well as staff skillsets. They will typically use these as selling points for you to choose their institution as well, as they are a good draw, especially if your child has already shown a keen interest in specific activities.
In an international school, all extra-curricular activities should be purposeful and reflect the mission of the school. This includes fun but also should reflect balanced and considered decisions.
At Alice Smith we focus on offering learning opportunities outside the classroom that shape our student’s life skills such as motivation, confidence, perseverance, resilience and independence. We encourage creative pursuits as well as volunteer work with our local community, helping our students feel like a global citizen.
Key questions to ask about extra-curriculars:
- How do you choose which extra-curricular activities to offer?
- Do these change year by year?
- Does the school receive commission from any extra-curriculars?
2. How does your school promote leadership amongst students?
It’s natural to assume that a school’s excellence can be measured by the number of students who achieve high grades. Successful students are hard to miss; they are rewarded for their success and excellence. However, you must also pay attention to the “average” students; students’ progress is the real indicator of any school’s success. Are the C students in time getting C+, are the B- students getting Bs? No child should be anonymous - every student should have their needs met.
Teachers must be accessible and their methods transparent. Students’ progress should be monitored, and not just via scheduled testing, but throughout each school year. Parents should be kept in the loop on their child’s progress, and teachers should share their clear plans on how they respond to any negative results when they occur.
Key questions to ask about students’ progress:
- How is progress monitored?
- What is the growth by the “average” student?
- What process do you have with keeping parents abreast of their child’s progress?
- How do you handle negative results?
3. What is the school's mission/vision?
Often, the school vision and mission are considered ‘window dressing’ and is mainly a marketing tactic. However, a school’s vision is and should drive all decisions made with regards to the school, whether that’s a focus on sciences, arts, humanitarian ideals, or language development.
It should be clear to any parent what the school aims to accomplish. If the vision aligns with your expectations and child’s needs, don’t be afraid to ask the school how they follow through with that vision and achieving what they’ve set out in their mission statement.
Key questions to ask about a school’s mission statement:
- What are the school’s vision and mission?
- What are the practices and experiences that truly demonstrate that the school is aligned with their vision and mission?
So there you have it – 3 more questions to ask international schools. To better understand what makes an international school stand out from the rest, we’ve created an admissions checklist.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions for Alice Smith School, we’re always happy to help. To learn more about what Alice Smith School has to offer, download a prospectus or book a tour to come and see for yourself.