How to choose the right type of education when moving abroad

What are some of the key questions that relocating families need to think about when considering what type of education to choose for their children?

Cambridge Assessment International Education

Cambridge Assessment International Eduation

Relocating abroad is a stressful time for any family, with lots to think about and prepare for. For parents going through the process of moving to another country, a key priority is to make sure their children’s education does not suffer any disruption. Continuity in education is hugely important, with consistency of curriculum, assessment and teaching approaches all important factors in ensuring students enjoy smooth progress through their studies, wherever they live.Here are some of the key factors that relocating families need to think about when considering what type of education to choose for their children.

Planning ahead: how transferable is the education between countries?

Families need to make sure their children’s education is internationally recognised and can move easily between countries.The Cambridge International curriculum fulfils these requirements and offers peace of mind to parents who might need to relocate several times during their children’s schooling.More than 10,000 schools in 160 countries teach Cambridge International programmes, so wherever families move to, chances are there will be a Cambridge school in a city nearby. There is also a wide range of school types to choose from, with international, bilingual and state schools all offering the Cambridge curriculum.

How flexible is the programme?

Switching to a new school is daunting for any child, especially if they are joining IGCSE, AS Level or A Level courses halfway through their school years. They might worry that it will be hard to catch up, or that other students will be more familiar with the education approach.School search and education advice - connect with our in-country expertsThe flexibility and international nature of the Cambridge International curriculum means schools have the freedom to tailor the course content to suit their students’ local needs and contexts but the syllabus aims and assessment objectives are the same worldwide, so students can begin their studies in one country and complete them in another.The four stages of the Cambridge Pathway lead seamlessly from primary to secondary and pre-university years, making it suitable for students aged five to 19 years. Each stage builds on the learners’ development from the previous one, but can also be offered separately. This flexibility means that students can hop on and off at any point along the way. For example, a student can join at the Cambridge Upper Secondary stage, typically around age 14, and follow the Cambridge IGCSE™ curriculum even if they have not completed any other Cambridge programmes before.

Is there a broad range of subjects to choose from that suit a student’s interests?

It is important to give students a wide choice of subjects as well as opportunities to personalise their learning programme, as it helps to build their motivation.Breadth of study is also important in the early years as it builds a strong foundation for the future. From September 2019, Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary learners will be able to choose four more subjects – art and design, digital literacy, music and physical education – as well as the core subjects of maths, English, science, ICT and Global Perspectives.Cambridge IGCSEs cover a wide range of interests and priorities. Alongside more traditional ‘core’ subjects, students can broaden their learning with subjects like Enterprise, World Literature, Physical Education and Music. There are more than 70 subjects available at Cambridge IGCSE and more than 55 subjects at Cambridge International AS & A Level.Students can also follow the Cambridge Global Perspectives™ programme which is offered from age five to 19. Unique to Cambridge International, this is a cross-curricular subject designed to develop skills such as critical thinking, independent research and communication. At Cambridge International A Level, the course includes an extended project to help students get ready for the demands of university study.
infographic illustrating the benefits of the Cambridge International system

How does the curriculum cater for students from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds?

Cambridge International offers more than 200 individual syllabuses, and schools can choose those that are most relevant to their students’ culture and context. There is also a wide range of language syllabuses for first and second language speakers – more than 70 language syllabuses at Cambridge IGCSE alone.Question papers are culturally neutral and use language that is accessible to non-native English speakers.

Are the qualifications accepted by universities around the world?

Cambridge International works closely with other universities around the world, including in the US, to make sure Cambridge qualifications develop the skills and knowledge students need to succeed at university. Our Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications offer students choice and flexibility for their higher education studies, developing in-depth subject knowledge and skills in critical thinking and independent learning.Every year, thousands of students use Cambridge International AS and A Level qualifications to gain places at leading universities worldwide including in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, India, Germany and South Africa. More than 600 universities in the US (including all Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities) and all universities in the UK recognise Cambridge qualifications.In a 2018 survey of higher education admissions tutors at universities around the world, 100 per cent of respondents said Cambridge programmes give students excellent preparation for university.

Does the education offered prepare students for the world?

The task of preparing students for their future is a huge challenge – technology is changing the way we work, the way we think and the way we live. Education must therefore help students get ready for the world by developing a strong set of transferable skills and allowing them to gain experiences.Cambridge International’s approach supports schools to develop students who are:
  • confident in working with information and ideas – their own and those of others
  • responsible for themselves, responsive to and respectful of others
  • reflective and developing their ability to learn
  • innovative and equipped for new and future challenges
  • engaged intellectually and socially, ready to make a difference.
These habits of learning – being confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged – determine how students approach different situations and challenges. They nurture students who love learning, and who will continue to learn throughout their lives, whatever they are doing.

At a glance

  • Over 10,000 schools in 160 countries offer Cambridge programmes and qualifications.
  • Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds. It is taught in over 150 countries.
  • Cambridge International AS and A Levels are accepted by over 1400 institutions worldwide, including all UK universities and over 600 universities in the US.
  • Students can join the Cambridge Pathway at any stage, and easily transfer to a Cambridge programme in another country.
  • Cambridge International is the only international education board in the world which is wholly owned by a university, the University of Cambridge. We draw on the University’s research and educational expertise to develop our programmes.
Relocate Guide to International Education & Schools 2019/20 watch the video
This article is from Relocate Global's Guide to International Education & Schools 2019/20 which is packed with expert tips and information for those relocating and the professionals supporting them. 
For volume options, co-branded editions, digital or online licence agreements and advertising opportunities, contact Fiona Murchie at +44 (0)1892 891334 or email 
Relocate Global Guide to International Education and Schools 2019 2020

Now available as an ebook on Amazon! Simply download from Amazon onto your Kindle, mobile phone or tablet to read wherever you are!

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online DirectoryFor more education and school-related news, visit our Education and Schools pages.© 2019. This article first appeared in the 2019/20 edition of the Guide to International Education & Schools published by Relocate Global, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Relocate Global. Relocate Global accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.

Related Articles