Relocating Globally: Navigating Different Education Systems

Relocating globally with kids can be a challenging and stressful step for families. Moving from, say, a London school to a country with a different culture and a different education system will be complex.  Children can find it difficult to switch. 

Careful research on your choices can ensure a smooth transition to your child’s new school. You will want your move to be as stress-free as possible and your children to settle quickly in their new environment. 

Choosing the right curriculum and education system, in your new country, is important. In this article, we look more closely at curricula. We also look at British schools overseas, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and relocating globally during key exam periods.  

Choosing the right curriculum

If you plan on relocating globally often, or to return to your home country whilst your children are still in school, it is important to choose a curriculum that will make this possible. Opting for an education system that is recognised internationally is key. The English National Curriculum, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the American curriculums are all easily transferable.  

The English National Curriculum overseas

Relocating from the UK, whilst keeping your children in the British education system, is possible. Many excellent British schools, approved by the Department of Education, and following the English National Curriculum overseas are available. This is a particular advantage if your children are exam-age as they can continue to prepare their GCSE and A-Level examinations with minimal transition issues. It is important however, when globally relocating, to make admission enquiries early as some British schools overseas may be over-subscribed.

The International Baccalaureate 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a well-established international programme of learning,  As of July 2017, there are over 4900 schools around the world offering one or more IB programmes. Many international schools across the globe offer the IB, due to the transferable nature of the learning programme and the typically transient academic lives of their pupils.  The IB is often followed by children who relocate frequently and was actually designed for this purpose. There are some excellent IB schools in London, including ACS Cobham, Hillingdon and Egham, the International Community School (ICS), Southbank International School and International School of London (ISL). International schools offering the IB generally obtain excellent results. Due to its breadth and scope, The IB is a well-regarded qualification and is accepted by all universities around the world.

The issue of exam-age students

If you opt for an internationally transferable curriculum option for your children, such as the IB, British or American curriculums, relocating when your children are exam-age should not be an issue. This is because the assessment procedures will be the same across the curriculum, even if your child moves school in the middle of their exam years. However, problems can arise if you move to a different education system in the middle of an exam programme, or if you plan to repatriate to your home country from another education system that is not compatible.  

One of the most difficult times to move to the UK is in years 10 or 11, (age 14-16).  If your child is looking to change schools at the end of Year 10, it can be hard to match all their GCSE courses as different exam boards are studied by different schools resulting in differences in curricula. It is possible, however, for a child to study an intensive 1-year GCSE course. Or for parents to work with the schools to bridge any curriculum differences.  

Both the International Baccalaureate (IB) and British schools overseas are excellent options for relocating families. Both options offer transferable programmes of learning to more easily facilitate future moves for your family.  

Please contact us for expert schools’ advice and support with applications to international schools and bilingual schools in London and both international and British schools around the world.