The Value of an International Education
As today’s workforce becomes increasingly globally mobile, students who have been exposed to different cultures at a young age are likely to reap the rewards in both their social and working lives. International schools offer a rich multi-cultural experience for students, enabling them to cultivate life skills embedded with a global perspective.
Relocating families will need to carefully consider the educational options available to them in a new country. These are likely to include both international qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate, or the national curricula of the home country, with British and American programmes usually the most widely available. Choosing the right curriculum is a vital step for students relocating and ultimately, the best international schools should be able to offer advice on the most appropriate qualifications for each student, dependent on their situation and educational requirements.
International qualifications can be an educational passport for students, widely-recognised by employers and educational establishments across the globe. The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is one curriculum which especially lends itself to nurturing students’ broad appreciation of foreign cultures and citizenship from an early age.
Spanning ages three to 18, the IB is split into the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the most well-known Diploma programme (IBDP) at post-16 level. The IB Learner Profile is central to every level, encouraging students to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.
In each of the programmes, IB subjects are approached with an emphasis on pursuing cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary links. Students learn about different subjects together and develop an understanding of how the knowledge they acquire is applied to the world around them. Designed to be an academically challenging and balanced programme of education imbued with global viewpoint, the IB prepares students for success at university and life beyond.
Supporting families in transition
As well as encouraging students to develop a globally-orientated outlook, international school communities are well-placed to help relocating families from overseas settle into their new surroundings by offering expert advice and support.
New families are frequently greeted by a ‘welcome committee’, made up of members from the parent teacher association. Committees can provide a friendly and helpful advice service and will often organise social events such as weekend clubs, coffee mornings or sports teams to help newcomers integrate into the local community.
Many schools also operate a ‘buddy scheme’ whereby new children are paired with an existing student of similar age and nationality. Buddies will guide new students through the first weeks at school as well as the daily routine, helping them acclimatise to the new country of residence. Language support can also be a critical service for students if English is not their mother tongue, enabling them to successfully engage with the curriculum.
It is important that relocating children find their feet in the new country quickly. Yet, it is also vital that pupils maintain a sense of their own national identity, especially as many will eventually return to the country of their birth. International schools often provide native language enrichment classes as part of their extracurricular offering, as well as international themed events and activities that celebrate cultural diversity.
School counsellors are also on hand to look after the welfare of students experiencing significant change in their lives and can be an invaluable source of comfort and advice for families coping with the transition phase. The best international schools will support students and families from a wide range of cultures, whilst also giving them the opportunity to express themselves and feel proud of their own nationality. This approach is likely to imbue students with a sense of global citizenship for life.
The Value of an International Education Submitted by: Mark London, Marketing Manager at ACS International Schools