In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I was keen on scouting around for an international school for my daughter.
After writing that post, I did a lot of research on international schools; attended two International school fairs, viewed school websites, visited some schools, talked to parents who placed their kids in international schools to get their views and read a lot of online forums just to understand the world of international schools. Phew!! I learnt a lot.
Generally, international schools are about the same. They have some plus and minus points but each school have something unique to offer. When surveying, we took into consideration the distance of the school from home, its facilities, syllabus, ratio between teacher and students, extra curricular activities, unique points and most important of all, the FEES! We narrowed down schools that we could travel to within half hour (not inclusive of traffic jams considering how unpredictable the traffic situation can be). The schools were as follows:
- Asia Pacific International School (APIS) – Subang
- Fairview International School – Subang
- UCSI International School – Subang
- Kingsley International School – Putra Heights
- Taylor’s International School – Puchong
- Rafflesia International School – Puchong
- MAZ International School – Shah Alam
- DwiEmas International School – Shah Alam
- REAL International School – Cahaya Campus, Shah Alam
- Tenby International School – Setia Alam, Klang
Distance of School
The nearest school to my home is Kingsley International School which was only 15 minutes away without traffic. Fairview and MAZ came to a close 2nd. It took me about 20 minutes to get to the 2 schools. Distance is a factor for me because I don’t want to wake my daughter up so early in the morning (I don’t want to wake up early too!) because she will be sleepy and tired during lessons.
In terms of facilities, all schools had the basic facilities an international school should have; air-conditioned classrooms and science labs, computer labs, libraries, swimming pool, indoor hall, and open field. Some schools had state-of-the-art facilities that I was almost wishing to be a student again. The downside is the more equipped and modern the facilities are, the higher the school fees.
Among all, I felt Rafflesia was very impressive as their facilities were modern, colourful and very hi-tech. The security was very tight. Although we had an appointment, the security insisted that they keep my drivers license. Each parent has a pass that must be worn at all times when they enter the school premises. When parents drive in to pick-up their child after school, the car and number plate is displayed on the flat screen TV located at the pickup/dropoff area and then students will go to the respective cars. A teacher is assigned to bring the Year 1 or 2 students to their car as they are still young.
All these schools offer the UK and IGCSE syllabus except for Fairview International School which was offers the IB program. I was really looking forward to visiting Fairview because I have read so much about the IB program and how IB syllabus helps develop “active, caring lifelong learners“. All the other schools that offer the IB program are so expensive and very far from my home. We visited Fairview last year during their open day, and quite frankly, we were disappointed. The school did a poor job in presenting what IB was about and its overall school program. Open Day is the day that schools get to showcase their school to potential parents and we get to see how the school can aid in the learning of its students but clearly they did not achieve that because most of the parents who attended the open day were clearly bored and waiting to get out. I am only commenting on the Fairview campus in Subang based on my observations and I do not know how the other campuses are but I hope they are much better in comparison.
Ratio between students & teachers
In general, the ratio of teachers to students in all these schools are 1:24 or 25. Kingsley has 18 in a class and APIS has 28. Year 1 has a teacher and assistant teacher in a class.
Extra curricular activities
All schools that I listed have extra curricular activities (ECA). Most of the schools do it after the academic hours. Some have the basic activities whereas some have many interesting ones. Generally, you would have to pay extra curricular fee if the coach/teacher is an outside-hire. I believe ECA is very important because it provides all-rounded learning and time away from studies. Its a chance for children to build their personality , get to know their interests and improve their leadership skills. Below are some of the ECA that I find cool and interesting:
- APIS – fencing, robotics, animation and aikido
- Kingsley – photography, glee club
- Taylors – yoga, dodgeball, skateboard
- Tenby – Little Money Einsteins, Spanish & Latin dance
Unique points are what makes the school have a bit of an edge over the other schools. Fairview is an IB school compared to the other schools I listed which uses the IGCSE syllabus. Kingsley is a bully-free school and they emphasise this policy in the school (makes me think rather worry if other international schools have a lot of bullying). DwiEmas offers financial education as a subject from Year 1.
The fee structure is based on 2015/2016 fee structure provided by the schools. Some columns have “Not Available” because it was not provided at that time. Generally the fee here is a guide only and shows the fees for Year 1.
This post is about my opinion on the 10 schools I have listed based on a few factors. Let me know if there are other factors to be considered or feedback on these schools or other schools. It would be great to obtain viewpoints from other parents.
Hope you find this post useful!