If you don’t know yet what you should be looking at when choosing the best school for your child, here’s a cheat sheet of some of the most important things to consider.
Everything from the taught curriculum, the academic environment, to the number of teachers per classroom and location are all important factors that you must weigh against all other options.
1. Academic Programme
What could be more important than the very foundation of your child’s education? The curriculum of a school should always be a factor of utmost importance. For example, if you have aspirations of your child going to university abroad, then you need to pick an appropriate, internationally-recognised curriculum that is accepted in the country of choice. We broke down the pros and cons of the biggest international curricula in a previous article.
Swiss International School in Dubai, for example, uses the International Baccalaureate programme, whose academic rigour and inquiry-based learning contribute to a flexible learning environment that prepares students for university anywhere in the world – and beyond.
2. Teacher Qualifications
What good is a solid curriculum without quality teachers to back it up? You should look into the kind of teachers that your school employs and observe their qualifications. Ensure that all teachers are equipped with a certain certification or degree in education. You should also look at the seniority of the administration.
3. Personalised Learning
One important principle of modern education is that every student works best when their education is tailored to their needs. The important thing to look for then is whether a school features personalised learning that caters to the strengths and weaknesses of every child. There should also be a student-centered learning environment that supports this guidance, as well as language support programmes to help bridge the gap between speakers of various languages.
Every child has certain needs. Nowhere is this more evident than students experiencing SEND, or special educational needs and disabilities. As outlined by the KHDA, the inclusivity framework implores schools to provide for these students, and ensure that they get the support they need.
Check if the school has an inclusion policy and helps support students who are considered gifted or talented, and gives them the support they need to excel.
5. Student-Teacher Ratio
The proportion of students relative to the number of teachers is an important statistic that might be overlooked by many parents searching for hard numbers. While there is no generally agreed-upon figure for the best ratio, it’s generally agreed that a smaller ratio – i.e. fewer students per teacher – is best for learning and engagement. In addition, younger students will benefit even more from lower ratios, as early learners need more attention.
It may be wise to ask parents of students who have attended that school for an idea of how many students are taught in each class and how many support teachers are available for Language Suppport, Gifted and Talented, Students of Determination etc.. Alternatively you can ask the school itself for figures.
6. After-School Activities (ASAs)
Your child’s development doesn’t stop after school hours. By exposing them to many things outside of the classroom, such as science or language clubs and sports teams, and giving them the choice of what to learn, they will develop into well-rounded individuals, and may even uncover hidden expertise or preferences that they’d never have discovered otherwise. It’s therefore important for a school to have many ASAs to choose from.
SISD offers a large variety of after-school activities that can cater to a variety of interests. These are included in our tuition fee, so there’s no downside to sending your child to one!
The way a school tracks student progress is essential in order to determine how each student is taught and managed. Without a reliable student progress metric, children won’t be able to know their areas for improvement, and they may not be given the necessary support by their teachers.
SISD complies with the best practices of the IB programme, including its use of eAssessments. Not only will students get the benefits of strong assessment, these eAssessments are also recognized all over the world, ensuring that there is a record of their performance that can be accepted at schools.
8. Tuition Fees, And What Is Included
School is justifiably expensive, but not every school gives you the same benefits for the same tuition. Some schools may have inclusive fees with additional benefits such as childcare, school activity enrollment, books, and even inclusivity measures.
Every family’s requirements are different. Sometimes you may need to check for the availability of a bus or other transport service from home to school. Others may want a school that serves healthy lunches, and takes allergies and other dietary requirements into account. Choose a school that targets all of your practical needs, or at least the ones that matter.