When moving overseas there are a number of obstacles that most people will struggle with: finding a house, setting up a bank account, buying a car, and sorting out healthcare are all stressful hurdles that most people face. However, for expat parents, there is perhaps nothing quite as tricky as setting children up in a new school.
Taking kids away from their friends and teachers whilst they are still a young age is a delicate process and one that requires a lot of planning. On the one hand there may be the excitement of a new climate, a new culture and a whole new land of opportunity, but on the other there is the fear of change – the stresses of which can wreak havoc on a family. It therefore always pays to be prepared, and to ensure the transition abroad is as smooth as possible.
There are a number of ways in which parents can ease, rather than throw, children into their new environment. Before the move, read books and research the new country with your children so that they can build an impression before they arrive. Also get friends and family to put together something to remember them by, like a friendship bracelet or a photo album, so that they still feel connected to their home country.
In fact, anything that makes the new country feel more like home is going to make the move a much less stressful affair. School is perhaps the biggest part of a child’s life, and so setting up a child in a recognisable school is going to make the transition much easier.
British families have a huge advantage over other expats due to the abundance of British schools around the world. In almost every country in the globe there are institutions which offer the British curriculum – from the key stages up to the GCSE exams – meaning British children can expect to find the same educational culture that they would have experienced back home.
In order to help parents locate these schools, Expat and Offshore created an interactive map which shows all schools worldwide that offer their students the British curriculum. The map has over 1,000 primary, secondary and through schools listed, and includes information about each school’s address, website, contact number, and student population.
For primary school students, aged 3 to 11, the school curriculum follows the early years programme up to key stage 2. In secondary school, aged 11 to 16, students follow key stages 3 and 4 before taking their GCSE exams. A number of international schools also offer the Cambridge IGCSE qualification for 14 to 16 year olds, which are accepted as equivalent to GCSEs by UK higher institutions. These schools are, of course, all English-speaking and so the added pressure of learning a new language is not necessary.
Parents moving to Nigeria, Pakistan India, and Spain can expect to find the most choice when it comes to British schools, as well as those moving to France, Germany and the UAE. However for those moving to Australia, Canada and the USA there are a lot less British schools to choose from, relative to the country size and how popular these countries are with British families. This is due to the fact that the USA and Australia expect incoming foreign students to adhere to their own national curriculums, which are also exported around many parts of the globe.
Although the British curriculum is perhaps the most respected and widely used system around the world, many schools now offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. This course offers students a much broader educational perspective and is presented as the perfect route to any university around the world. Many students in the UK between the ages of 16 and 19 take the IB Diploma Programme instead of A-Levels in order to give them a competitive edge around the world.
British schools abroad can be the perfect option for families who want to retain links with their home country, however obviously these schools aren’t going to be identical and children, especially those still in primary, still may need some extra support. Some tips to help your child settle in even quicker include speaking to their new teachers and informing them of your child’s likes and dislikes, as well as giving them the names of important people in their life back home, so that teachers can reference them and make your child feel more at ease.
You can view the map and a full list of British schools overseas at: