Plan well for what may be a difficult time of adjustment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 June, 2009, 12:00am

When it comes to choosing a good international school on the mainland, parents are urged to research online before relocation, although some relocation companies might be able to provide relevant information. Parents should confirm if a school is properly accredited by a world-recognised agency and check if it is a part of a wider educational organisation.

A visit during school hours, taking in the classes your child will be in, is often the best way to determine if a school is the right choice.

There are important questions to ask the schools you intend to apply to. Information such as the student population, maximum class sizes, teacher-to-student ratio, teachers' turnover rates, qualifications - some schools do not demand their teachers hold education degrees. It might be useful to talk to other parents or students. Some parents might focus on the grade level of their children for that year so it is useful to get information about the programme for the following years too.

The extra-curricular and after-class programmes a school has are also essential. Many schools cater specifically to the curriculum of one particular nation, US, British, Canadian and Australian being the most common. However, families typically find it important to expose their children to Putonghua and mainland culture.

Many parents seek schools that offer challenging academic programmes with small class sizes and a range of sports and other after-school activities. Many international schools are chosen because of the additional student support services, such as English as a second language, learning support and guidance services.

Families with older children would traditionally be interested in schools with strong histories of placing graduates in the best and most competitive universities and colleges. Make certain your child is prepared well for what is involved and realise that there is likely to be a difficult period of adjustment.