How to find the right international school for your child

qatar schoolAn expert in the field shares her tips for parents, and explains why she’s launched a free new school comparison website.

Advice from education consultant Elaine Stallard
What do you do to help children settle in to your school?
Each new student should have a ‘buddy’ or mentor. Every school should have a policy they will share with parents explaining how they ensure children fit in. Schools should do everything they can to make students feel special and supported.
What curriculum do you follow?
Always check whether a curriculum will be portable if you should move to another country or school.
What is the background of your teaching staff?
Always ask about the background of teaching staff. They should have considerable experience in teaching the curriculum and be well qualified and trained. If it is a British or American school you would have a right to expect the vast majority of teachers to be from the home country. Always ask the question.
How large are the classes at your school?
Teacher/pupil ratios are very important. Students should have as much individual attention as necessary. Always ask. Many schools have a maximum of 24 in the senior school and 16 in the sixth form. Anything lower than that is often a bonus. Primary school classes tend to be bigger with 32 as a maximum, but again check the number of teaching assistants to pupils. That can make all the difference.
How have your pupils performed in examinations in recent years?
This is important because you need to know a school’s past achievements. Where your child goes in the future depends on public examinations and you have every right to ask for its result tables. If the school is mature then ask where pupils have gone to university and beyond.
What extra-curricular activities do you have?
Activities such as Duke of Edinburgh awards, sailing or debating are very important for a child so always get a full list of what is available.

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