United World Academy

Choosing the Best International School for Your Child

Deciding upon whether to place one’s child within a school offering the Indian curriculum, or opting for an International School, believing that this will make university study overseas more accessible, can be a difficult enough decision in itself… However, if you have decided on the international route, then the next step, -of choosing the ‘best’ international school can be even more daunting.

Where to start? In this day and age, the internet would seem to be the obvious answer. So, because you’re prepared to even move home to find the best school, you type in ‘Best International Schools in India’ and wait for 2 nano-seconds for the answer. Simple, right?
Wrong… The school that enjoys the number 1 spot on the first post only makes it to number 29 on the second!
You decide to narrow your search and type in ‘Best International School in…..’ inserting the name of your home town or city. This time though, you resolve to examine not just two, but at least the first three posts that appear on the search engine. Surely it will be more straightforward this time?
Wrong again… This time the school that appears at the top of the list on one site doesn’t even score a mention in the other two –and so it goes on.

If you are confused and scratching your head at this point, try this next exercise.
Type in ‘Best International School in ….’, check out the first three posts (more than three could ultimately prove injurious to health), and take some screenshots for future reference. Wait 24 hours and repeat the exercise. As I was when I tried it, you may be amazed to find considerable movement up and down the lists. Now I know that schools can and do improve or otherwise over a period of time, sure, -but over 24 hours in the context of COVID 19..? Seriously..?

And what are these rankings based upon anyway? What are the criteria and the benchmarks used to determine a particular pecking order? In more than 20 years of leading schools, only once have I been interviewed by a national magazine and subsequently visited by their team in an attempt to research our methodologies, outcomes, and effectiveness. The most popular publication in the UK to help parents select schools for their children still relies on submissions written by the schools themselves and every Head Teacher or Principal will understandably be at pains to present her or his institution in the most favorable light possible. My experience on the international circuit has oscillated between being amused, confused, amazed, and sometimes annoyed when I see how my school has been ranked in a particular category in a magazine supposedly designed to assist parents in their decision making. Whatever else, I take what I see with a huge pinch of salt.

Does this mean that we should discount what we read on the internet or in various publications? Does it mean that we should dismiss what we read on the individual school’s website?
No, not entirely…

If a school regularly appears high on these lists, it is too easy to put this down to successful marketing or investment in Brand Promotion, but it is far more likely there are good reasons behind the positive reputation the institution enjoys and therefore it can be an OK place to start; but that is the keyword here, start…

You are starting out on a hugely important process; one that will require time and effort on your part as a parent. It will require a thorough examination of the different facets of what a particular school offers and what makes it ‘tick’.

In my next post, I will offer some pointers which I hope will help with this process of exploration and examination.

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