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Good schools abroad

Monday December 4, 2006

Anastasia Moloney

When looking for schools abroad that offer a British curriculum (international GSCEs and A levels), parents are spoilt for choice. There are also thousands of schools accredited by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) across the world that offer the well-established and reputable IB diploma in English.

Some schools focus on a bicultural and bilingual education while others create a miniature version of Britain inside the school gates, emphasising British culture and language. A bilingual curriculum is a challenging and stimulating environment for children who speak English as a first language, especially as students are required to write essays in both their native and host language. Check carefully to see what immersion language classes are available and what support is offered for students who initially only speak English. Few would deny that a bilingual curriculum is both beneficial and enriching for students and encourages them to become global citizens.

In South America, most schools offer the IB programme in Spanish, English or both. In such bilingual schools, around half of the classes are taught in Spanish and the remaining half in English, often taught by imported native-English speaking teachers who make up at least 25% of the teaching staff.

School fees increase incremently according to age group and are often paid in the local currency. There are extra costs to consider, such as application and enrolment fees, school development fund fees, lunch and transport costs, student accident insurance, uniforms and exam entry fees. Full IB diploma examination fees cost around 340. Some schools offer discounts on tuition fees when two, three or more children from the same family are enrolled.

Neither the IBO or the Council of International Schools (CIS), which accredits schools, publish league tables. The following list of the top international and IB schools across the world are based on a combination of factors, such as exam results, school facilities and extra-curricular activities offered, but it?s also based on word of mouth and those schools recommended by expatriate teachers and parents.

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