Monday, 27 February 2012

At Home Abroad Series: Expat Children and Education

Source: Creative Commons/ nojhan

For any parents thinking about moving abroad, schooling inevitably will be top priority before making that decision. Will the curriculum be recognised internationally? Will they like their school? Will they be able to get in…? These are all valid questions expat parents consider when moving overseas.

We came across this interesting video on the BBC where expat parents Paulie Gould, Jen Holzberger and Beth Severino share some of their experiences and considerations taken in uprooting children without damaging education.

In the clip, they describe the challenges they faced ranging from choosing a suitable school to the difficulty in navigating UK’s catchment policy, from private schooling and home schooling options to the costs associated with each.

Looking at the data we have for the Expat Explorer Survey, expats voted Singapore as having the best quality education. One local expat even said, “If you're offered an opportunity in Singapore – grab it, you'll never regret it!” Second and third place respectively were Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

For parents looking to move abroad, it might be useful to look at The European Council of International Schools (ECIS). Founded in 1965, the ECIS is a global membership organisation that strives to maintain an international consistency between schools, to help ensure children leaving a member school to have an internationally recognised standard of education.

Expat Info Desk also has a wealth of information on all aspects of expat life, with an excellent section on “Choosing an expat school. This article suggests that the main options to consider when it comes to expat education are:
  1. International school vs Local school
  2. Boarding school vs Day school
  3. International Baccalaureate vs Local qualification

Are you thinking of relocating and have questions about your children’s education? Post them below and see if our expat community can help. 


  1. Ironically, as an expat in Singapore, one of my biggest concerns is that when we move back home, my girls will be *really* ahead of their peers. Obviously, not much of a concern today for my 4 month old, but my 3 year old is doing work in pre-k that most American schools don't tackle until K, and by the time she's done with K2, she'll be doing 2nd grade work in the US (and I say this as a certified 1-6 teacher in my home state of MA, which is considered one of the stronger states when it comes to academic rigor).

    I've heard from parents that it's common to have your kids skipped a few grades when moving from Singapore back to the states. I'm curious if any parents have talked about how they feel about that, if it's difficult, or if they've ended up going with a private school back in the US because of rigor when they might otherwise have gone with a public school?

    1. Hi there C,

      Thank you for your comment! It's great to here that your kids are doing so well.It's always tough repatriating - especially for children.

      I'm sure someone in the expat community reading this will be able to help!

  2. What an excellent choice of topic! Schooling is the one thing I'm most passionate about and have written about several times on my blog. My take on it is that the local schools are often overlooked, but can offer a far better education than your run of the mill international school. At least here in South Africa we've been happy with our choice of local school. You get more of the local culture, local friends, (without always moving out on you), integrating academics with music and sport as well as outreach and leadership programs, plus as extra bonus shorter school days and less homework, which if you think about it is actually great for the kids - more time for other interests.

    1. Hi Sine,

      That sounds fantastic! Thanks for commenting on this post, and it's great to hear that you have enjoyed this post.

      Hopefully you will enjoy more posts yet to come! I'll be posting our top ten most read posts of February today, see how many you have read :)

  3. I wish I had found you before we moved to Hong Kong. Navigating the schooling system here has been, and continues to be a huge nightmare for us. The survey findings are interesting too, I beg to differ on quite a few points, now I have first hand experience at trying to get our 5 year old into a school in Hong Kong.
    Thanks for your great blog and all the info, I look forward to reading more.
    Cheers, Cat.

    1. Thanks Cat for your message. Always keen to get feedback on our posts and survey. Keep an eye out for more "At Home abroad" posts!

  4. This blog is nice and amazing. I really like your post! It's also nice to see someone who does a lot of research and has a great knack for writing, which is pretty rare from bloggers these days.

    1. Thanks! Glad you have enjoyed the post, and continue to enjoy those yet to come!


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