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The role of International Schools

International schools have become increasingly important with the globalization of our world. The schools offer an international education, often adopting the International Baccalaureate curriculum or the government-approved curriculum of another jurisdiction.

International schools focus their attention primarily on those students who are not nationals of the host country. In many cases, students at these schools are children of international business people, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions or missionary programs. It is not uncommon for local students to attend these schools in order to further their knowledge of another country with the hopes of obtaining employment or future education outside of their own country.

In Canada, there are a number of private international schools. Most offer the local curriculum or IB program to international students in either French or English, often with training in other languages as well. These schools attract students from around the world, usually integrating them with a population of local students. There are also a smaller number of schools that cater to ex-patriots providing an international education in their mother tongue, for example, theGermanInternationalSchool.

Features of international schools usually include:

  • The ability to transfer the student’s education from one school to another;
  • A multinational and multilingual student body;
  • An international curriculum;
  • International accreditation; and
  • A multinational teacher population.

Some people have reported that these schools contribute to a lack of foundation in their upbringing. Hannah Smith of The Guardian wrote in 2013 that “many students of international schools move between countries and places constantly. Several reported that they feel they have no one place where they have roots or a background.”

There are however, many positives to attending international school. Students will get to experience a diverse enrolment of many nationalities and be able to experience different cultures. The ability to join the school in the middle of the year can not be overlooked as admissions are usually done on a rolling basis. Although English is typically the language of instruction, these schools offer English language support for students from other countries. They also provide support to the families through the community programs designed to make the transition to another land as comfortable as possible.

It is clear that for many, enrollment at international schools is more a product of parental emigration than desire. We are fortunate that such institutions exist so that students can succeed globally just as they would in their own backyard. While students may find it hard to adjust initially, the future rewards are invaluable in terms of shaping a young person who has respect for different cultures while at the same time being proud of their own.

Find International Schools in Canada with ParentsCanada’s Private School Guide.

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