For expats with kids, one thing that you’ll be pleased to hear is that London offers excellent educational opportunities for children of all ages. There are two choices when it comes to education, and these are state schools – funded by the government, or private schools, for which you have to pay fees.
International schools are private schools that specifically cater for families from overseas, and there are a good selection of these in London.
These schools are especially advantageous because in many cases they allow students to continue to follow the national curriculum studied in their home country. Some even offer ‘mother tongue’ classes, addressing any language issues for those who have not yet got a grasp on English. In addition, such schools usually cater for all ages, from nursery/kindergarten right through to pre-university, so from ages 3-18.
In the UK, the school year is split into three terms. The school year starts in September and finishes the following July for an extended summer break. Within this period there are holidays for Christmas and Easter, as well as half-term breaks that tend to last for a week.
Finding an International School
International schools are a popular option with expats. So if you’ve a particular one in mind then it’s advisable to get your child/children enrolled as early as possible, thus avoiding disappointment.
However, with the nature of expats moving from country to country, there tends to be a fluid influx and departure rate. This means that it’s worth getting in contact with a school even if it’s really close to the beginning of term. This also applies to mid-year entrants, as often an International school will allow a child to join part way through a term or in the middle of the school year.
Below is a list of some of the most popular International schools in London
The International School of London
The International School of London, or ISL, is located in Chiswick, West London, and is a popular choice with students and families from countries all around the globe. They offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum, usually referred to simply as IB, and many students have gone onto win places at the top Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK, as well as Ivy League establishments in the United States.
The American School in London
However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a diverse selection of students from around the globe, as this is an institution that offers an extremely sought after high standard of education. It offers a complete range of education, taking kids at the age of 4 through to 18. The UK educational monitoring board, Ofsted, has rated the school outstanding in every category.
ACS International Schools
ACS International Schools offer three different locations around London. These are in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon. The schools offer both the IB curriculum and American courses. The school has a diverse range of students, with around 30% hailing from the US, 15% from the UK and the rest from other countries around the world.
L’Ecole International Franco-Anglaise
Located in Marylebone, Central London, L’Ecole International Franco-Anglaise provides education for students from age 3 to 15. Students are taught in both French and English, and the curriculum is based on the one taught in France. This is a small school that’s been running since 2012, and prides itself in the fact that it’s students are (or become) bilingual.
King Fahad Academy
An IB curriculum Islamic school offering an Islamic based education. Most of the students here are Arab Muslims, and many are the children of Saudi diplomats. The King Fahad Academy provides a full education from age 3-18 years. It’s located in the West London borough of Ealing.
Southbank International School
Students and staff are from around the world, from over 75 different nationalities. Therefore the language mix is diverse, and they offer over 20 different languages. For children under 9 years old, the school will provide extensive education in the English language for those who have little or no ability.
For older children there is additional support offered to improve those who might not yet have fully mastered English. Spanish is offered as a second language from kindergarten upwards.
Dwight School London
This IB curriculum school offers a full range of education to students from age 3 to 18. Based in North London, in North Finchley and Friem Barnet, Dwight School London has been accredited as an International Baccalaureate Open World School. It also offers some great burseries and scholarships for exceptional students ages between 10-18.
Hill House International Junior School
Founded in Switzerland in 1959, Chelsea based Hill House International Junior School moved to Paris and London a couple of years later. It’s a family run establishment that follows the UK national curriculum, specifically preparing students for pre-high school exams. The school has a high focus on music, the arts and sports.
Most of the above schools run a network of buses to transport the students to and from school on a day to day basis.
The emphasis on education in all of these establishments is to ensure the highest quality of education, in parallel with preparation for university in virtually any country around the globe.
In general you’ll find a diverse mix of teachers from nations around the globe. This has the added advantage of a child being able to converse in their mother tongue with a native speaker. This is especially important and means that the student doesn’t lose the important skill of native conversation, as well as ensuring that they don’t lose touch with the roots and culture of their homeland.