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Chance to move abroad but concerns about quality of schools on offer

(14 Posts)
NorhamGardens Tue 14-Jun-11 12:17:28

We have a chance to go to Asia with DH's work but I am concerned about the quality of the schools on offer.

We'd be paying school fees ourselves and frankly the best school for our family (popular and over subscribed) is equivalent to a good comprehensive. Equivalent results and 24-25 in a class.

We planned to send the children to an excellent independent school in the UK in time and we'd have to change our plans (obviously). The fees are similar but in the UK the teachers seem higher quality and the class sizes are small (16). We've done a lot of research both at proposed school in Asia and at proposed independent school in the UK. I think the children would gain enormously from a move, and there would be educational benefits too, but my eldest would be in the middle of exams and potentially disrupted.

Am sure others have faced these issues. I am surprised there isn't more choice and various international schools seem to be equivalent to state schools in terms of results, quality (although not facilities) and class sizes. The main goal seems to be that the children fit back in with ease to school in their country of origin in time, be that America, UK etc. Not knocking state schools but hopefully you can see where I am coming from.

expatinscotland Tue 14-Jun-11 12:23:01

The problem I'd have is that, at your childrens' ages, if you're not resident the 3 years before they enter university, a lot of universities will charge them international student fees.

NorhamGardens Tue 14-Jun-11 12:50:53

Is that really so re: university? How much extra are international student fees? Sounds expensive!

expatinscotland Tue 14-Jun-11 17:27:10

Yes. It's a reason a lot of execs who need to move abroad for work leave their teenage children in British boarding schools.

It's very expensive, yes.

natation Tue 14-Jun-11 18:26:09

Send your children to university in the Netherlands, it's around 1.5k euro per year or less, may accept you as EU students. Plenty of choice of courses in English there.

TheBride Wed 15-Jun-11 05:47:29

Norham- I think you are right in that you pay a lot for what you get in Asia- where exactly are you headed?

However, one thing to remember is that international schools in Asia (or at least in HK where I am) are usually not selective, whereas many of the better performing independent schools in the UK are.

TheBossofMe Wed 15-Jun-11 06:31:42

International pre-prep and primary schools in Asia are IME amazing if you choose carefully - small class sizes (max 10 in the school my DD attends), good teaching, resources etc.

Secondary looks pretty pants - if we're still in Asia by then, DD will be heading to boarding school.

TheBride Wed 15-Jun-11 07:07:00

Wow Boss That's amazing.

In HK, the ESF primaries have class size of 30 at primary. The International schools are usually 20-25, and pre-school/playschool also around 20 (albeit they still all maintain a 10:1 pupil /staff ratio)

natation Wed 15-Jun-11 08:01:58

Smaller class sizes are just one factor in choosing a school surely? A talented teacher can motivate a class of 30 with better results than a poor teacher with a class of 15.

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 15-Jun-11 08:13:06

We've had the experience from both sides. DH is a teacher and DD is a student.
Some International schools are brilliant, DH has taught in two excellent ones, one mediocre and one appaling.
Choose carefully and wisely is my best advice. Look beyond the glossy brochures and costs. You can't polish a turd, but you can sprinkle glitter on it.

marcopront Wed 15-Jun-11 08:56:23

The university fees issue is not as bad as it used to be. Universities are not increasing the fees for overseas students as much as the increase for home students. Also if you keep a house in the UK and can prove it is a temporary contract some universities will let you pay home fees.

I agree with kreecher, look at the school carefully. If you go to the international schools review of the TES website you can get teachers' views on the schools.

A couple of other things to consider.
Class sizes might be the same as the UK but motivation of the students might be very different. The majority of international schools will not keep on a student who is not working and is seriously disruptive. And parents are often not wiling to pay the fees for a child who is doing nothing.
When looking at results consider the type of students. If the students are local there may be ESL issues but also there is not the same interest in your results unless you are planning to go to university in the UK. US universities for example are only interested in your transcript not the IGCSE/IB or A'level results.

I have taught in international schools for 14 years and in three continents.

natation Wed 15-Jun-11 10:51:59

Marcopront, best post I have read in a long time on the subject of looking for an international school abroad. OP take note. It's short sighted to compare schools in the UK with English speaking ones abroad, on grounds of results or class sizes, intake and ESL issues are very important to consider. In the end, what matters is what your child can achieve in an individual school, not what the overall school achieves.

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 15-Jun-11 11:32:54

Also, Asia is a big old place. If you are willing to post the specific location, you will be sure to get more specific answers.
I am pretty well informed about Oman, Dubai and Thailand and have friends teaching in several other ME and Asian countries.

marcopront Wed 15-Jun-11 20:27:30

Thanks natation

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