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International IB school standard

(25 Posts)
Tulips74 Tue 23-Jan-18 04:25:18

My Son is currently year 7-aged 12, he has been at a really good private UK school for two years and was doing very well. We recently moved abroad due to my husbands job and he is now in a Private International IB school. Since starting there we have been shocked by the standard compared to the UK. It seems that Secondary MYP seems very unorganised, my son often tells me kids are not working and teachers are not doing anything about this. They all work on Laptops and some kids are playing games in lessons, he says a lot of the time he feels like he isn’t learning as much there. The school hasn’t many sports facilities and we are very disappointed with the sports programme, especially as it hasn’t even got fully qualified coaches. The only positive thing is that our son is very happy!
We are paying out a large sum for this and I’m now going out of my mind with worry.
Does anyone have experience of International IB schools?

Kokeshi123 Tue 23-Jan-18 05:12:19

I live overseas but use local schools. I do hear a lot about ISs from my many acquaintances that use them, though.

International schools are always very hit-and-miss because they lack the oversight state schools tend to have, and because kids and teachers move about so much that there isn't much accountability for results like you'd get at a regular private school. Some ISs are great but I hear some awful stories too. Not to be confused with paying out for a private prep/secondary school in the UK, which tends to be a lot more reliable in quality (though you do get shit private schools everywhere). You must be experiencing a bit of a culture shock, especially if you are paying fees comparable with a UK private!

Your story sounds awfully familiar. The MYP is very wishy-washy (content-lite, vague silly "skills," lack of academic rigor), and if there are kids off-task and playing games during lessons, it sounds like the school is not even attempting to do the best job it can with the curric.

If moving him is a possibility (another IS, boarding back in the UK or even homeschooling with online support + private tutoring if you are only there for a short time?) I would move him, honestly, the sooner the better. I went to a rubbish international school for a while as a primary school age students. I came back to the UK very behind in several areas, especially with maths, and only did OK in reading because I was a natural bookworm. I did OK long-term because my excellent (state) primary school in the UK did a sterling job of doing intensive catchup work with me over the course of two years.

ShanghaiDiva Tue 23-Jan-18 05:38:21

Agree with Kokeshi, standards at international schools may not be high, despite what the marketing department tells you!
Would speak to school re lack of discipline in classroom.
Is a local school an option?
Alternatively, you could supplement with work at home to ensure no gaps in knowledge when you return to the UK. Not an ideal solution, I appreciate.
My Ds thinks the MYP is a bit vague, he took igcses, but the IB diploma programme is quite rigorous, so there must be a stage wher the MYP content improves.

eeanne Tue 23-Jan-18 06:02:29

I also live abroad and quite a few schools do IB for PYP and diploma but skip MYP as it has a not great reputation. They either do IGCSE or a national curriculum if they’re affiliated to one eg American, Canadian, etc.

Some of the other issues sound like a poorly managed school unrelated to IB unfortunately. Do you have other options?

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 23-Jan-18 12:53:53

A friend ended up in a long distance relationship with her DH because the schools where he were based just weren't up to the standard of the independent they went to in England and she didn't want the kids to board. Luckily her DH was a pilot so there was the options of quite a lot of flights.

Eventually though it was too much and he returned to the UK>

Kokeshi123 Tue 23-Jan-18 13:02:32

"quite a few schools do IB for PYP and diploma but skip MYP as it has a not great reputation." I have noticed this too. Or they pay lip service to MYP but add so much structure and content that it ends up being pretty much something else.

I think international schools (mostly wealthy families with one parent at home) get away with some pretty weak teaching because the parents can be relied on to pick up the slack at home.

Vietnammark Tue 23-Jan-18 13:15:44

Here is a site that teachers review international schools on:

You do have to pay for access, however.

Flurries Wed 24-Jan-18 19:31:59

I have taught in IB International schools for longer than I care to remember (my kids attend too). As with schools anywhere, there are good schools and bad schools. There are definitely tiers of international schools, but when you get a good one there is no comparison - they are fantastic.

I am a big fan of the IB, including the MYP - it is a much more meaningful learning experience, but it has to be done properly. A previous poster mentioned content lite, silly skills and no academic vigour.....ha! It is true that the MYP is not a content based course - it is inquiry based and focuses on skills and concepts (this makes it very unpopular amongst people who are results-driven).

Flurries Wed 24-Jan-18 19:33:10

Oh and the website posted above (International Schools Review) is widely known as a place where disgruntled teachers air their grievances.....take it with a big pinch of salt.

cuttingcarbonemissions Wed 24-Jan-18 23:34:38

It really depends on the individual school.

Some will offer a standard similar to that you would get in a good, not particularly selective, UK private school.

Others will achieve good average results - but these will be propped up by some very high achieving (Korean) students and will not be reflected across the student body as a whole.

Others are largely targetted at wealthy families from the host country and will lack discipline and focus. The children will graduate with a mediocre mark but fluent English and that will be enough for them to access tertiary education in their home country or in the US.

None will offer the kind of education you would get in a highly selective UK IB school eg Sevenoaks.

All will charge astronomic fees which bear no relation to their educational offering.

Kokeshi123 Wed 24-Jan-18 23:57:36

this makes it very unpopular amongst people who are results-driven

Given that the OP has up to now sent her child to high-achieving private UK schools, I think it's fair to say that she probably wants strong academic results.

A better IS will do a better job that the OP's current school, as in they will offer a reasonably good education (at a heft price tag). But as the last poster says, even the best international schools do not offer the kind of academic rigor that you would get in UK private schools of equivalent price level.

If the OP wants the kind of education she'd get at the best UK schools, I suggest shopping around for a better IS and then tutoring on top of that, or sending her kid back to board in the UK.

Flurries Thu 25-Jan-18 11:18:49

I agree that IS are not the same kind of school as UK selective private schools, and OP, if you are looking for that type of school then look elsewhere.

IMHO IS schools (the best ones) offer something way better. I hope you come across a good one OP!

MollyHuaCha Thu 25-Jan-18 12:35:11

Boarding school is another option.

Tulips74 Tue 30-Jan-18 08:51:14

Thanks everyone for your replies! It seems that you all have some great advice and it’s been very helpful.

It’s a tough one as we can’t afford for my son to board now and I think he still benefits from being close to his family.
Perhaps we will look to get him extra support/tutors for now and then see if we are in a better position next year. He is in current year 8 (UK), which gives us one more year before the two year GCSE course starts!
Or we have the option in the UK to send him to boarding school in year 11, it’s called pre sixth form, prepares for the IB, which he is currently doing, for Sixth form, years 12 and 13.
I’m just trying to work out the best solution.....

BanyanTree Thu 01-Feb-18 10:21:36

My DC attended an IS overseas and were on the PYP program. We moved back to the UK as I felt the school was failing my DC. The school did a very good PR job on their results and opened all assemblies and presentations to parents with "This is the best school in the world". I am not joking. They actually said this. They told us all that their 36 point IB average was excellent.

My eldest DS is very bright. The school totally failed him. At one point he had to have learning support for maths because he couldn't do number bonds to 20 in year 3.

I brought my DC back to the UK and was told by one school that my DS1 was extremely bright, but had a very shoddy foundation and would not pass an entrance exam. I then enrolled him in an excellent non selective private school. He was the eldest in the class and at the bottom of it. He was a year behind at least and any testing they did on him placed him below national average. He left that school recently and was at the top end of the year, won an award for his school work and got a discount from his private secondary due to his achievements.

I think a lot of factors influenced the poor standards and results in the IS we attended. We lived in an exotic place and most of he people I knew lived in this bubble were they went on holiday every other week and flitted about between champagne BBQs. The teachers also had this attitude. The children were not really that interested in learning. The school had lots of HR issues and things to deal with other than just getting on with teaching them.

If I hadn't brought my DS back from the UK, he would have failed. I was told by my Principal that any children she sees from IS's are on average 12-18 months behind their peers in the UK.

BanyanTree Thu 01-Feb-18 10:23:25

..back TO the UK.

ShanghaiDiva Thu 01-Feb-18 13:59:52

The 36 point average for the diploma is very good. You need 24 to pass and I think the world average is 29 or possibly 31(can't remember exactly).
I am not familiar with the pyp, but the diploma programme is rigorous.

cuttingcarbonemissions Thu 01-Feb-18 14:35:44

You need to be very careful with “ the average” point score. You hear this from a number of IB schools. IME this figure can be driven up by groups of high achieving children who are being pushed at home and tutored outside school. DC1 attended such a school. We were initially attracted by the “average point score” figure. It was only after the first year that we realised that ALL the high achievers were Koreans (large Korean community where we were) and the average score for British and American children was a LOT lower.

Vietnammark Thu 01-Feb-18 20:18:03

I can only second what Cutting says about averages.

In these kind of schools the averages are very often skewed by groups of high performing Asians.

Kokeshi123 Thu 01-Feb-18 23:52:59

"In these kind of schools the averages are very often skewed by groups of high performing Asians."

I think I have also witnessed this phenomenon, when I think about some of the international schools I have seen in my city.

It makes me wonder, why do the parents put up with it? The high-achieving Asian kids are presumably getting the high scores because their parents are pushing them and having them tutored. Don't the parents get fed up with the fact that so much of their children's progress is basically down to their own efforts, and that they have to pay for all this tutoring ON TOP OF the ridiculous school fees? Or do they just shrug and accept this as being the price for having their children fluent in English?

BanyanTree Fri 02-Feb-18 10:54:09

A schools average IB grade is important to me. The school my DC attend now has a very successful IB program. The average grade does not show the whole picture though. I wanted to know what percentage of students got what mark, how many students got their first choice of Uni (also what courses and which Uni's) and what the school does (in our case what they did) to improve on their mark year on year. I wanted to see evidence that it was not propped up by a few bright students. Of course, the mark is not the only thing I am interested in and I chose this school over another highly pressurised academic one.

My DC attended 3 local and IS schools in Asia so I recognise the "high performing Asians" and their Tiger parents. In contrast though I do think that many western children are not doing as well as they could at these IS's. I knew a few western DC (mainly girls) who did very well at IS and in the IB but I also know quite a few boys who had to be brought back to the UK by their mums to go to a 6th form college because their grades were not good enough for A' levels or the IB at their IS. I do think that the expat life and all it's privileges is not always the best environment to bring up your DC. Perhaps it is just where we lived but our children's lives were like being on a permanent 5-star holiday. In contrast my DC's peers at their private school here are very focused on learning and doing well at school.

LondonExpatLife Wed 07-Feb-18 20:43:30

My children have been educated in IB and non-IB international schools. I'm a big fan of the IB program. The learner profile is reflects values students should have in order to be good, global citizens and succeed in their goals. I found assignments to be more interesting which made learning fun for my kids. But as mentioned in other posts, there are good and bad schools everywhere - IB and non-IB.

Vietnammark Wed 07-Feb-18 21:11:07


Apologies for stereotyping, before I start.

I, not being Asian but having lots of experience with them, believe that they much more so than Caucasians, think that educating their children is their responsibility and one of the tools they use to achieve this is main stream schooling. They do not think that the school has the ultimate responsibility to educate their children.

I also believe that when educating their children they are thinking more long term. They believe educating their children is an investment in their children, their children’s children and their future lineage. Thinking this way makes the effort and expense much more justifiable.

Vietnammark Wed 07-Feb-18 21:15:00

Banyan tree: I agree with you that many expat families do not realise that the game has changed in the UK and to succeed academically a lot of hard work is required.

Many expats lead a very cosseted life and think that their kids have little need to study hard. They are beginning to find out the hard way.

InterestedInStuff Fri 20-Jul-18 13:15:21

I would be very wary of sending a child back to the UK to board in Year 11. It would be difficult to find a UK boarding school that does MYP only so most would be doing their GCSEs - not "pre sixth form". I have two boys who have boarded since a young age and watched new boys being "dropped in" to their schools in Year 11. It is very tough to settle and make friends. I would do it year 10 - or wait until year 12 for the start of IB. If moving them - Year 9 is the best time as they are with their peers all the way through - but most good schools will be full already - pre testing in year 6.

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