Teaching at International Schools
Life in an International School
Myself and my family have now lived and worked in 3 countries. Every time we move, one of the hardest things to get our heads around is what the local schools are like in the next place we’re heading to. If we lived there already, we would probably know through the grapevine what was good and bad about each school. So far we’ve been really lucky; each school we have been at has been special in its own way.
International schools have popped up in every major city around the world to cater for ever growing numbers of expats wanting to educate their children in an environment they can relate to. If you are moving country every few years, once your children are over 6 or 7 you can’t expect to drop them into a completely new learning culture, maybe even language, without causing real problems for their education in the later years of school.
As parents and teachers at an international school, my wife and I have developed a view from both sides of the curtain as well as understanding what international schools get right and what they get wrong.
What do we love about International Schools?
- The international nature of the people at the schools. Our children have only ever experienced being friends with people of all sorts of nationalities – Dutch, Russian, Thai, Chinese, Australian, South African, Malaysian and more…all grouped together and learning from each other. Similarly, when you teach at an international school it’s usually a mix of people from all over the world and often the people tend to be the adventurous types by default…everyone who has come from another country has made the effort and taken the risk to try and make a better life for themselves and see a bit of the world.
- The communities around the schools. Similarly to the first point, the parents at international schools by default are living pretty interesting lives. Most of them are away from home and looking to make new friends. It usually makes for a highly social atmosphere where people just want to enjoy being in the new city they find themselves in.
- Freedom of curriculum. Most international schools are tied to a particular curriculum from their parent country, but our experience has been that there’s a bit more freedom (sometimes a lot) to let teachers do what they’re good at. Obviously each school has its own way and it won’t always be the case but compared a normal school in its home country, it can be very liberating. This then leads to more motivated staff, happier children and a general sense of well being.
- The sunshine 🙂 If like us, you’re from a less-than-sunny country, there’s nothing better than knowing it’s almost certainly going to be warm and sunny come the weekend / school holidays.
And what’s not so good?
- Saying goodbye. Often people are only in a place for a year or two, so you and your children have to get used to the fact some people won’t be staying in the same place the whole time you are there.
- Schools that try and look the part but don’t deliver. One phenomena we have noticed is that there are many schools that have really good marketing but underneath the reality is very different. Maybe this isn’t just an international school thing but it does seem that it may be easier to fool people who are moving to a new place. As mentioned earlier expats don’t always have the local knowledge that would normally force a school to change its ways.
This last point led us on to create a site that lets you get some of that local knowledge before you move to a new city. It’s all about the real experiences of parents, pupils and staff. Whether you’re going to , , , , and many other cities in Asia, you can look up the schools you’re interested in and see what the people who know those schools have to say about them.