Selecting an international school: Tip #1 – Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.
June 19, 2012
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well? Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children. There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend? Our new blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #1: Have you fully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of placing your child in an international school in (insert country name here)? It is difficult to go back and forth to the (insert local country) system and it will affect high- er education choices.
As it is a real option for most international school teachers, it is important to think about whether you are going to send your children to a local school versus the international school you work at.
We all know international school teachers typically get free tuition for their children, but not all international school offer this benefit. Furthermore, some international schools might make the teacher actually pay for a certain percentage of the tuition cost, sometimes up to 50% or more. With 2-3 children, that could all add up to make your benefits package not that attractive! Other international schools offer free tuition, but don’t actually guarantee a spot for your child which might result in waiting 1-2 years. The schools that do this are seeing more of the monetary benefit of getting more ‘paying’ students in the school versus ‘non-paying’ students.
In my opinion it is to the international school’s benefit to have their teachers’ children attend the school. Many international schools only have a small percentage of students in the class that are native speakers of English. When the number of native speakers is low, then the level of English and proficiency of the students tends to be low as well. In general, non-native speakers of English needs native speaker role models in the class to help them achieve a high proficiency in English. At least that was the case at one of my previous international schools in the Mediterranean where the student population was 45% from the host country.
Some international school teachers are married to a local from the host country. When that is the case, many times the family will send their children to the local schools, so that the children can learn fully in the local language. Knowing the local language like a native speaker will definitely be a important factor in that child’s future if the family’s plan is to stay in the host country forever (or a really long time). Sending your children to a local school is typically the cheaper option if you are in a situation where the international school you work at wants to have you pay a certain percentage.
Sometimes the choice to have their children attend a local school is a choice the family is making for themselves, or it is a choice that is made because of the difficulty with getting a spot for enrollment in the international school. It is important to note that most international schools though do make sure to have a spot for teachers’ children if they are foreign-hires. Otherwise it would be most difficult to get any teaching couples (with dependents) to sign a contract! But for international school teachers with a local spouse, like in some areas of the world (e.g. Western Europe), getting a spot might prove to be more challenging as the international school will state that the children have an viable option to attend a local school.
If you are an international school teacher with children, please share your comments about ‘Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.’
Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our almost 700 members. Many of our current members have listed they are ‘married with dependents’ on their profile pages. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about what life is like as an international school teacher with children.