The advantages of sending your children abroad for education

By Brown Articles Published 10/15/2009 | Education

There are several considerations to make when looking for a foreign school for your child. If a child is moving from primary to secondary school, or even more importantly, moving schools in the middle of a school year or in an unusual period of transition, curricular differences will be one of the most important things for parents to think about.

In countries other than Australia and America or the UK, the main difference between foreign schools will obviously be the language barrier. Most schools teach English as a second language, which should help pupils to interact with each other, but only a few schools teach all lessons in English; these will tend to be independent schools with their resultant fees. Other curricula considerations (including the timing and type of exams and qualifications on offer) will vary greatly between countries and parents should research these issues for the particular country they intend to use for schooling. The pattern of school holidays and daily hours will also tend to vary between countries. This information can be tracked down by contacting local consulates.

Other types of foreign schools may be another option for your child. In countries like Spain, which have large communities of British ex-pats, there are ex-pat schools, which are usually run by English people who have decided to live abroad and so teach the UK's National Curriculum. The schools also incorporate local curriculum such as religious studies and foreign languages, but usually have long waiting lists for entry.

International schools teach lessons in English and will usually teach a similar curriculum to British schools, which may include qualifications such as A Levels or the International Baccalaureate. These schools, however, usually charge expensive fees, similar to those of independent schools. Some provide teaching in English, while others are bilingual. Parents who are looking for a foreign school for a brief period, such as those who need to travel abroad for work for a year, for example, may prefer this option. Bodies like the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) check these schools' standards.

Some foreign schools will require parents to give them a copy of their child's immunization certificates and medical background on application. Usually a birth certificate or similar form of identity such as a passport (with a certified translation in the local language, if applicable) will also be required.

Usually it is easier for younger children to settle into a new school and country, since they find it easier to cope with a new language and customs. Older children take longer to adjust, get used to a new education system and make new friends. It might be helpful to place your child on an international exchange program before they make the transition to living abroad.