10 lessons from the experts

Finding the right school is one of the most stressful parts of an international move. Here, education experts share their 10 most valuable lessons.


Tanglin Trust School

1.You know your child best: “That is the most important factor in choosing a school. Be clear about what is important to your family. At the most basic level that includes single sex or co-ed, how close the school needs to be to home and whether you want a day school or one that offers boarding or flexi boarding,” says Katie Krais, managing director of education consultancy JK Educate. å“At the end of the day, the best school is one where your child feels safe, secure, happy, and motivated to learn every day, says Marina Anpilogova of XCL World Academy in Singapore.2. Find a school that share your values: Assess if the school if the right fit for your family, says Chris Seal, head of Tanglin Trust Senior School in Singapore. “Do you like the values and mission that the school is espousing and ask if the school is living those values.”3. Research potential schools thoroughly: “Initial research can be done online, viewing school websites and if the school is in the UK, reading Ofsted reportsor Independent Schools Inspectoratereports,” says JK Educate’s KraisIf you are looking at secondary schools it can be helpful to look at league tables as well as GCSE and A Level or IB results, and leavers’ destinations. “Remember, these results are attained by groups of individual children and cohorts might differ in ability and ambition,” cautions Krais. “Look at value added figures which can reveal a lot about the quality of teaching in schools.”“It's also worth checking accreditation with reputable bodies such as COBIS,” says Kate Carden-Brown, director of admissions and head of higher education at Epsom College Malaysia. “Check if the school is a COBIS Beacon school, which demonstrates excellence in standards - there are only 21 out of 450+ COBIS-accredited schools worldwide.”4. Choose a school that is academically appropriate for the child. “It’s not good for children to be bored, or to be out of their depth and struggling to keep up in class. Therefore, it’s important that they aren’t pushed towards a school that it is too academic, or one that cannot meet their curiosity,” says Krais. It's also important to think about where the child may study for further education. Some schools, including Salem in Germany, offer a bilingual programme to graduation. “If further study will be in an English-speaking context the IB is the best programme, but if they will study in Germany we recommend the Abitur,” says Schule Schloss Salem’s Dr Stephanie Nau.

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5. Don’t stress about entrance tests: To help your child prepare for school entrance exams engage with the admissions team to understand their assessment criteria, advises Marina Anpilogova at XCL World Academy: “It is equally important to provide holistic support to your child, both academically and emotionally, to help them build confidence, manage stress and approach the exam positively.”“Entrance exams are baseline tests, and the focus is on numeracy and literacy,” says Epsom College Malaysia’s Kate Carden-Brown. “It is not possible to cram for such a test, but students should get into the habit of reading daily to develop their vocabulary.” At Schule Schloss Salem the entrance exams are designed to take snapshot of the child’s academic levels: “we offer support for an academic preparation accordingly before school starts in September,” says Dr Stephanie Nau.6. Don't overlook the holistic development of your child. "Academic excellence should be non-negotiable but look for the myriad of additional offerings that nurture a student,” says Mel Curtis, head of the International School of Nice in France. “This includes arts to athletics and community service to cultural diversity and mental well-being.”7. Engage the child in researching the new destination: “Involve children in the school selection process and make a pre-move visit, if possible,” says Marina Anpilogova at XCL World Academy.   “Maintaining a positive outlook and nurturing the child’s sense of identity are key strategies to facilitate a smooth transition and foster a sense of belonging in the new environment.” International schools, including Schule Schloss Salem often run summer programmes which can be a great way of introducing a destination. “Our two-week summer experience shows what boarding school life at Salem is like,” says head of admissions Dr Stephanie Nau.8. Don’t worry about relocating in the middle of a school year: Many international schools offer rolling admissions, which means that if seats are available in your child's grade, they can join at any time during the academic year. “This flexible enrolment system ensures a smoother transition for your child and allows them to continue their education without disruption,” says XCL World Academy’s Marina Anpilogova.9. Understand the emotional impact of relocating on children: Ensure that there is human contact early in the admissions process says Chris Seal of Tanglin Trust School in Singapore.  “Ask if there are buddy systems and follow-ups in place to ensure that the settling process is given the best possible chance of success.  This is a labour-intensive part of the role of any good school and something we focus on a great deal at Tanglin.” International schools often provide emotional support services to help students adjust to their new environment. This may include a buddy system, counselling services, and orientation programmes to ease the transition. “At XCL World Academy we prioritise emotional well-being alongside academic success and create a supportive and nurturing environment for all students,” says Marina Anpilogova.10. Be flexible on curriculum:At Tanglin we are unique in Singapore in offering both A Levels and the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP),” says Chris Seal, head of Tanglin Senior School. “Our experience of working closely with universities across the world is that they understand both and can assess students for courses irrespective of the curriculum followed.” 

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