How do you decide which school is the right school for your children? For newly arrived international parents and an increasing number of Romanian parents opting for private education, this is becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer as the number of private international schools in Bucharest increases every year.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you narrow down your options.
Location Location Location
In a busy capital city, travel time is always going to be a fundamental factor. If you live on one side of the city and your school is on the other side, this could mean 1-3 hours travel time per day. For an adult, this is bad enough, for a young child who really needs their recommended sleep quota of 9-13 hours sleep per night, waking up extra early to get to school on time is going to both affect their ability to concentrate and learn in the class and reduce the time available for homework afterschool. You would therefore ideally choose the best school near to you or relocate to be close to the school of your choice. Choosing a inner city school also presents a number of advantages as day trips out from the classroom to the many museums, galleries, and parks also means less travel time.
School accreditation offers parents a way to evaluate the performance of a school, offering quantifiable evidence that a school maintains high educational standards and actually does what it says it does in its school prospectus. This is especially the case when a school is inspected by a government sanctioned inspectorate that publishes an official inspection report. A good example of this is “BSO (British Schools Overseas) Accredited” schools, inspected every three years against specific British Educational Standards, who are required to attach their most recent inspection report to their website for both current and prospective parents to see. At the time of writing this article, there were 4 Accredited BSO schools in Bucharest listed on the www.gov.uk website.
Another way to gauge the quality of education being offered in a school is by looking at exam results and student outcomes. In this regard, it is not always easy to evaluate school performance as not all schools publish their exam results or their graduate data. It is also true that some schools publish inaccurate data. BSO schools are however required to publish their exam results and usually also publish their graduate record, and are monitored by the inspectorates. The information on their website is therefore more reliable. Of all the British Schools in Bucharest, the only one which has had students accepted into both Cambridge and Oxford in recent years, along with many other top universities around the world is International British School of Bucharest.
Opportunities for Learning Languages
International schools usually offer students plenty of choice when it comes to studying languages, and this is an area of the curriculum certainly worth investigating as research indicates that students with three languages are academically stronger and more capable than those who are mono lingual or even bilingual. Research indicates that languages are learnt best at a young age, so a school with a strong language programme in place for learners at an early age is worth considering.
Developing a Global Perspective
A final point you may like to consider is the way international schools nurture a sense of internationalism, encouraging students to adopt a global perspective toward life as they mature from young children into independent adults. In addition to becoming fluent in English, this is one of the areas often valued very highly by parents. Although schools may approach the process of cultivating a global perspective in different ways, the general standard usually includes establishing a culture of openness and shared values, actively encouraging tolerance and respect toward others from an early age so that it becomes an accepted normal part of everyday life. The fact that students are surrounded by children from many different countries certainly helps to support this process.
With so many international schools opening in Bucharest, it will become increasingly important for you to do your research to ensure you make the right choice for your children. Hopefully these ideas will help to guide you in making the right choice, because choosing the right school for your children is the most important decision you will make.