An international school offers a diverse education to children and usually educates its students outside of the national curriculum of its location. For example, the Alice Smith offers a UK curriculum even though the school is based in Kuala Lumpur.
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International schools are often multinational and, as well as the more formal courses on offer, the school should have a broad range of cultural opportunities for students. With so many students from different backgrounds and religions, students will absorb the spirit of internationalism from a young age. These schools not only serve the expat community but frequently welcome local students as well.
The curriculum can vary, and depends on the school structure. Alice Smith, as a British international school, offers A Levels and GCSEs. However, the London-based Lycée International de Londres (London) is accredited by the French Ministry of Education and provides bilingual education in both French and English. Students can take the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the French Baccalaureate in their final school year. One theme that all international schools follow is the importance of global citizenship and keeping an open mind.
Enriching the mind
International schools, though focussed on exams and intellectual development, also stress a child's development as a unique human being and expose them to new ideas. This type of education will help a child’s confidence, especially as extracurricular activities in these schools tend to be of a very high standard and offer students the opportunity to develop their individual interests and understanding of other cultures.
The experience will benefit students wishing to travel overseas for their university education or future career opportunities in an increasingly globalised world. Many parents who send their children to international boarding schools may have jobs in the services, the diplomatic corps or with international business companies. This means that the schools can offer the students some security rather than constantly changing schools each time their parents move elsewhere. Others are non-boarding but help the child’s development through exposure to different ideas and cultures.
How to choose an international school
There is no such thing as too much research, and any parent thinking of sending their child to an international school should always look at the school’s exam pass rates. When visiting the school, a vital question is - do the students appear happy? Also, ask about extracurricular activities. If the parents are from a different religion than the bulk of the school body, will the child be able to practise their religion easily? It’s a good idea to ask where
former students have ended up and were the experiences gained at a specific international school helpful in coming to terms with the world on graduation. At Alice Smith School we’ve produced a checklist that can help families with questions to ask when looking for a new school. You can download it here.
International school students often graduate with an appreciation of other cultures, find learning languages easy and have more confidence – all these attributes can only help in an increasingly competitive and global economy.