School options for expat kids
Suzi Dixon of the Telegraph breaks down the different educational options available for children brought up outside the UK.
A school with a British curriculum
According to the Council of International Schools (CIS), an estimated 2,000 schools claim to offer a British curriculum abroad. They are popular with expats and locals alike and sticking with the British national curriculum will make any move back to the UK less problematic.
A parent’s view: “Choosing the right school for your children is always a difficult decision for every parent, especially when you are no longer home and not in your own familiar territory. For us, the decision was relatively easy as a new school – Laude – had just opened up next to our home. It follows the British curriculum and upheld British standards. After five years in primary and our first year in secondary, we are very pleased with the school.” Zoriana Benhamou, who runs MarbellaFamilyFun.com and has two children, aged 14 and 11.
An international school or local school accepting international students
International schools, especially those that are part of a big brand, are popular with long-term expats as they provide variety and international qualifications. Both the IB and international GCSE is globally recognised; lessons may be taken in English, the local language, or half and half. Look for accreditation by the Council of International Schools.
A parent’s view: “It’s exactly what my daughter needed, because it has given her very good French, which she did not have when joining the school. They get the children to a top level in both French and English. She will now take the 11-plus for schools in England.” Charlotte Stewardson, whose daughter, Margaux, nine, joined Bordeaux International School two years ago.
A UK boarding school
A child may feel more secure in their home environment, so a UK boarding school is worth considering.
A parent’s view: “UK boarding schools offer consistency, particularly for older children. Teenagers in the UAE quite often spend their weekends hanging around in shopping malls, moaning that there is nothing to do. Boarding school offers a full schedule of weekend activities that keeps them busy, they are surrounded by their peers, and learn to be a little more independent from mum and dad.” Sue Anderson, of Sue Anderson Consulting, sent all four of her children to UK boarding school, and now advises other parents.
Home schooling is popular with expat families in the US and it’s also beginning to catch on in the UAE, too. The K12 International Academy offers online lessons to guide parents through an international or English curriculum.
A parent’s view: “If you really can’t get a place in a school that you want, people here would consider boarding in their home countries, or the wife would move home with the children while the husband stayed working here. Alternatively, a lot of people choose to home-school rather than use schools they’re not happy with.” Annabel Kantaria, Telegraph Expat blogger in Dubai.