The excitement of receiving an offer to move abroad to work is often quickly tempered by a reality check. There is a dawning realisation that not only does this mean relocating your whole life to another part of the world but also that you will need to find schools for your children. For many families moving abroad the education choices are the deal breaker as to whether to take the posting or not.
Fortunately, thanks to the explosion on British curriculum international schools across the globe there is now far more choice available. However, there are plenty of factors to consider when choosing a school in another country and some pros and cons to take into account as part of the decision making process. Sara Boomsma from Gabbitas Middle East shares key things to consider before making the move.
When researching schools in a new country, one of the key factors to take into account is the types of curriculum on offer. Typically, international schools offer a much broader range of curriculum choices including British, American and the IB. In the UAE for example, there are over 17 different curricula on offer which gives families access to a unique variety of education opportunities for their children.
You may wish to stick with the British curriculum to ensure consistency with your child’s current schooling. This can also be helpful if you are considering moving back to the UK in a few years or sending your child back to boarding school at some point.
However, moving overseas can also give your child a chance to explore a different curriculum. The American curriculum could be a good route if your child has ambitions to study at a US University. Or the IB which is a broad curriculum for ‘all rounders’ and offers unique breadth and depth as part of its programmes.
Parents need to be assured that international schools are rigorously held to account to ensure the curriculum is aligned with their home country and issuing globally recognised qualifications. It is worthwhile checking how schools are inspected and if it is part of any global associations.
It is worth being aware of the local regulations that may impact of curriculum delivery in different countries. For example, many schools are required to offer the local language as a compulsory part of the timetable and others may have restrictions on the subjects that can be offered as they maybe culturally inappropriate in that particular region. But it is also worth bearing in mind the positives that this brings such as your child being able to immerse themselves in a new language or culture fully!
Another factor to consider when moving overseas is school fees. It is rare for education to be free in an international setting. Most international schools are private and often for profit, therefore school fees can be a significant cost.
In addition, whilst school fees were traditionally included in relocation packages for families, more and more these fees are being left to parents to pay directly. Therefore, when looking at schools in your chosen country, it is worth investigating fully what the overall fees will look like for each child and to factor in the extras such as school trips and extracurricular activities.
At Gabbitas Middle East we always recommend to our clients try to live near their chosen school. Not only does this ease the journey this morning but you will find that all of their new friends also live nearby meaning you’ll spend less time in the evenings and weekends chauffeuring them around and arranging play dates becomes a whole lot easier!
Benefits to your child
The most important thing to remember when considering moving abroad is that it will, of course, be different. Your child will be thrown into a multi-national, multi-lingual and diverse environment and it is vital that you encourage them to embrace the change. Whilst perhaps daunting at first, your child will gain a truly global outlook and will have an amazing new experience.
Studying abroad also gives children a unique edge in life. Being brought up in an international environment you have to learn quickly to be flexible and adaptable. Your child will learn to appreciate others viewpoints and become confident and independent ready for the next step in an increasingly globalised world. What an amazing opportunity for them to experience something new!
Read more about the benefits of an international education here.