An article in Times Online about children who have taken the IB curriculum finding it difficult to enter British universities could be of major concern to many expat parents. Choosing an appropriate school is a major decision for families moving overseas, and for those in secondary school/high school, curriculum is often the deciding factor.
Looking back, we went quite blindly into our first expat posting with our 9 year old son, not really knowing what kind of school we would find. This was back in 1996 and doing research over the internet was just about impossible. But as I wouldn’t be working I felt I could make up at home for whatever the school lacked, as the opportunity for us as a family was too good to pass up. Fortunately we fell on our feet and our son’s very small international school provided an excellent education, albeit in very shabby surroundings. It was an American curriculum, very similar to the Canadian one we had come from, and he was able to continue in American schools wherever we were right up until university.
Some parents I’ve met along the way have struggled though. Recently in Dubai finding a school of any kind with vacancies was difficult and as a result parents had very limited choices. For those who are able to pick and choose, my advice for the early grades (up until age 11 or 12) would be to focus less on curriculum and more on the the “feel” of the school and whether it fits your child. At that stage, although the approach may be different, most sytems have similar goals. But after that you really need to give careful thought to where and what kind of post-secondary education your child is likely to pursue. Hard to do when it’s so far in the future, but as this article illustrates it can have major consequences. One of your best resources is the experience of other parents, so reach out to family, friends and fellow expats and ask them their opinions and advice.
Edit: An added resource I just came across is this article on timing and points to consider when moving children.