5 Factors to Consider When Choosing an International School

Every parent wants the best for their children. Nourishing and healthy food, a home in a safe neighborhood, and healthy relationships with people who support their development are just a few of the elements of a great childhood. Also part of every parent’s wish list is a quality education for their children. Great parents want to be able to provide a solid foundation for their children’s self-sufficiency, and an education that inculcates a love of learning and an ability to think critically will be essential towards achieving that goal.

Electing to attend one of the best international schools in Singapore will almost certainly provide this kind of education and prepare children to embrace a bright future. But how does one choose the right educational institution to attend? To see if the school you’re eyeing for your child is right for you, consider the following.

Studying in an international environment (photo: https://www.sais.edu.sg/)

Integration Between Curriculum and Extracurricular Activities

Unfortunately, there is no single metric that parents can use to determine the quality of the education their children are likely to receive at a given school. This makes determining which international school will provide your child with the right education a bit of an inexact science. That being said, there are a few factors that point to the quality of an educational institution, and naturally, one of them is the curriculum.

As many children who attend international schools are often being prepared for further studies abroad, choosing a school with a curriculum that builds towards that goal is crucial. Of course, a child must receive the requisite training in the various academic disciplines. This is simply par for the course. But to be considered a truly exceptional learning center, an international school must marry its classroom learning with activities that support and enhance the learning process. How well do the two integrate into one another? If they seem to be complementary, you can be sure that the system designed to educate your child was assembled with care.

Teacher-Student Ratio

Many educators espouse the need for a manageable student-teacher ratio, especially in the earliest stages of childhood. It is at this point in development when children’s attention spans are shortest and the need for personal engagement by the instructor is most crucial. As they become more accustomed to a school environment and learn to become self-starters, the ratio of student to teacher can taper off, with most studies pegging these ratios at between 25 to 30 students per teacher by middle school.

Retention Rate

Another important factor that suggests the quality of a school’s educational system is its retention rate, or the percentage of students who are able to complete their courses and graduate. This number should also include year-on-year retention, or the percentage of students who are able to move on from one year or grade level to the next.

Children learn at different rates, so retention of 100 percent is unlikely. However, unusually high numbers of students who are unable to complete their courses, or who are unable to progress through the various grade levels, may indicate flaws in the school’s educational system.


Many students who attend international schools are children of expatriate parents and may need to move around a lot depending on where their parents are deployed. Hopping from school to school becomes much easier if children are sent to an international school that is a member of a central body of schools. This factor may not be relevant for everyone, but for some, it could be a dealbreaker.

Joining a school with satellite campuses in other countries makes the transition from one to another much easier, with all past classroom credits being transferred on to the student’s record. This allows them to continue their education seamlessly and with minimal backtracking.

Multicultural engagement (photo: https://www.sais.edu.sg/)

Multicultural Engagement and Student Body Makeup

Most international schools have a student body with members from different nationalities and cultures. This provides its students with one of the biggest advantages that studying at an international school can offer: the exposure that the school provides its students to individuals of different cultural backgrounds. Learning to be open and accepting of people with different beliefs and backgrounds is quickly becoming, not just a valued skill, but a nonnegotiable one. Individuals who are better equipped to navigate the multicultural space that is today’s global village will have a distinct advantage when it comes to networking and relationship building.

Also related to this is the school’s medium of instruction. While most international schools use English as their primary language, there are a few that offer classes in other languages as well. For expatriate students, this allows them to rediscover their cultural and historical roots while also allowing foreign students to fully engage with cultures different from their own.

Education is usually the primary building block of an individual’s future. Selecting how that building block is formed is therefore crucial to a child’s prospects. That said, by taking the above factors into account when choosing a school for your child, you’re likely to make the selection process a little easier.