How to Choose an International School
The most common question amongst ISKL’s prospective students and their parents is ‘How Do I Choose an International School?’
In this article, we discuss some of the frequently asked questions which occur in the process of selecting an international school.
What Is an International School?
A common question among prospective parents is ‘What is an international school?’
Typically, international schools have a broad range of international students, follow an international curriculum, and offer more flexibility than government-run or private schools.
International schools are also diverse: some are not-for-profit, and parent governed (like ISKL), while others are privately owned and part of larger businesses.
What Is the School’s Educational Approach?
An important area to understand is the school’s educational philosophy and approach to learning.
Does the school offer students opportunities beyond formal academic programs, like activities outside of the classroom? Is the school’s curriculum more traditionally focused or, like ISKL inquiry-based and student-centered?
It is also important to understand the academic results achieved by the school’s students.
A good way to understand an international school’s academic rigor is to look at aggregated standardized test results, which will show you how a grade is performing and what progress has been made during the year.
Data from ISKL’s current and former students, and its accreditation agencies, highlight the school’s uniqueness, as a place that promotes student wellbeing, and provides students with experiences they cherish throughout their lives.
The competitive results in the International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and a range of standardized assessments, reflect the commitment of its community towards learning.
What Curriculum is Offered?
Make sure you understand which curriculum is offered and how this relates to the student's current experience. If you do intend to change curricula, ensure the admissions team explain how the school will support your child’s transition.
ISKL is one of the very few schools in Malaysia that provides a robust international curriculum that combines leading North American educational frameworks with global best practice and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).
Does The School Offer International Baccalaureate (IB)?
The IBDP is among the world’s best-known pre-university study programs. Academically rigorous and challenging, the IB shapes well-rounded students and is recognized by universities worldwide.
ISKL is the longest-running IB World School in Malaysia with a 28-year pass rate of 96% and scores that are consistently in the top 5% of IB schools worldwide.
In 2019, for example, ISKL outperformed the worldwide IB Diploma average score by over 5 points with an IB Diploma average of 35.3 points.
The worldwide IB Diploma average was 29.6 points. Many schools have selection procedures in place as to which students can or cannot pursue IBDP, but at ISKL the IB is offered on a nonselective basis, enabling every student to maximize their potential.
Where Is the School Located?
An important factor to understand is how easy will it be for students to get to and from school. Does the school offer a busing service? Are buses safe, well monitored and available for students participating in after-school activities?
Many international schools, such as ISKL, offer an extensive bus service for students. For almost 70% of ISKL students, the day starts when they board the ISKL school bus each morning.
What Is the Size of The School?
The size of the school is an important factor in deciding on the right international school. Too small and your child may not have an adequate range of academic, social, and sporting opportunities available to them. Too large and your child may feel lost.
Getting the balance right is essential, so remember to ask the admissions officer about student numbers and how this is managed within each division.
Many international schools have evolved over the years and have a highly diverse student population. ISKL is a case in point: the school only had 48 students when it first opened 55 years ago and has now grown to over 1,800 with students representing 68 nationalities.
What Is Life Like At an International School?
It is worthwhile asking if you can talk with parents or students from your home country or parents who have moved from your current school as they will give you an honest perspective on their experience.
It is also worth checking whether students from other schools in the area have moved to the school and vice versa. Many parents don't think to ask this question, but it can give a good indication of the school’s broader appeal. It is important to understand the local environment of the school. ISKL’s website has a detailed section talking about life in Kuala Lumpur, and more specifically what it is like to live in the school’s vibrant suburb, Ampang.
What Are the International School’s Fees?
It is vital that the school clearly explains the fee structure to you. International school fees should be transparent from the start with no hidden surprises. Most schools publicly display their fees online or in printed prospectuses; ISKL’s fees are easily accessible on the school’s website.