Picking the right school
FUNDAMENTALLY, parents must weigh a wealth of options when considering a school for their child. Geography, fee structure, school systems, curriculum, boarding, meal plans and even nearby accommodation are just a few things up for consideration.
“A common feature of schools offering an international curriculum is the use of English as the main medium of instruction and communication,” says Nickie Yew, co-founder of Mint Communications Sdn Bhd that is actively involved in educating parents about international schools. “These schools differ from one another in many ways depending on the segment of private education in which they belong and the gap they wish to fill.”
A main consideration for parents is location, as children will be travelling back and forth between home and school quite regularly. Unless the school chosen is a boarding school, parents should ensure their children do not have to travel very far to school by daily commute as the children would be involved in extracurricular activities and other school events.
If parents are lucky, there could be many options to choose from in their location and guides such as Education Destination Malaysia (www.educationdestinationmalaysia.com) can be useful.
Subsequently, as curriculum offered influences the main communication language in private and international schools, international schools in Malaysia typically use English as the lingua franca, which is also a consideration for parents if their children were brought up with other languages as the first language or if the children are not fluent in English.
“As English is the main language used at schools offering an international curriculum, it is important for children to be sufficiently proficient in the English language for them to understand and participate in the lessons actively,” says Yew.
An important element in picking an international school is to visit the school with your child so that they can get a feel for the place and give their opinion. Allowing children to have a say in the decision-making is important because essentially, their success is going to be based on how happy they are at school.
“A good education is one that prepares children for the future. It is important for schools to equip children with skills that will enable them to be successful in whatever environment they find themselves in and therefore, picking a school cannot be a decision to be made lightly,” says Mint Communications’ co-founder Michele Lam.
Needless to say a school’s safety and security measures are of utmost importance. Facilities such as health and first-aid services and emergency procedures should be present in any school parents may be considering.
Details of security measures in and around the school should be taken note of such as whether there is a visitors’ check at the front gate and interaction of other parents and strangers with students.
When meeting with teachers and the principal, do ask about the school’s recruitment policy and the kind of vetting procedures in place when hiring.
As is the case with most private and international schools, parents can take advantage of the availability of reputation information to judge schools based on standards such as their international excellence ranking, facilities and services available, class sizes and pastoral care.