I look for a clear sense of purpose – this more than anything else. A school with a strong purpose nurtures that same quality in its students. You find the children developing a clear sense of direction – and not just a determination to do well for themselves, but a wish to see their friends and peers do well, too. In these schools, students and teachers alike can explain why they are proud of their school. So it’s definitely something to look out for when you’re choosing your child’s next school.
A strong sense of community isn’t the only sign of purpose that I look for in a school. Here is my advice on factors to take into account when choosing the right international school for your child:
- When you meet staff, either for a formal meeting or through a chance encounter in the corridor, do they express a clear sense of aspiration and ambition for the children in their care – whether they are talking about senior students or toddlers?
- Looking beyond classroom teachers, are you seeing that same level of purpose from teaching assistants and other support staff?
- All schools say that they hire great staff, and the best schools certainly recruit the best available. But the school for your child should be the one that also has in place programmes to ensure that teachers are refining and improving their teaching practice on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask what a school offers to its staff.
- When you meet the administrative staff responsible for admissions, do you get the sense that you are on the end of a sales routine, or is it clear that they are truly helping to establish whether the school is likely to meet your – and your child’s – needs? Always look for the latter.