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The Value of an International Education

As ever more companies ‘go global, and business executives seek that vital, career-enhancing international experience, interest in international assignments has rarely been greater. Yet while an overseas posting can be a great opportunity career-wise, other factors, such as the wider needs of the accompanying family must also be considered. 

Caroline Breeds, Corporate Relations Consultant at ACS International Schools, looks at how an international school can be an excellent choice providing internationally recognised and transferable education programmes, and a gateway to a culturally diverse and welcoming community which will embrace the whole family.
Considering the relocation needs of the whole family matters to HR professionals because the last thing the company needs is a new arrival wracked with worry about how the rest of the family is coping.  And where children are involved, this means understanding and accessing the best education options available to them in the host country.  

The ideal scenario for families moving regularly between countries is one where they can ‘pick up where they left off’, as far as is practically possible.  And for both parents and their children, a big part of this has to be a seamless move between schools and education systems.  Minimising the impact of adapting to completely new, country specific study programmes every time they move has to be a priority, and this is where international schools certainly have the edge.

At our three ACS International Schools in London, and at ACS Doha in Qatar, we provide a range of internationally recognised qualification programmes, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) programmes, which are taught from primary through to diploma (IBDP) level.
IBDP success has opened doors to some of the world’s top universities for many of our students including places at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Maastricht and Tokyo.

While the IBDP is the most well known, its Primary Years programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programmes (MYP) provide an excellent grounding diploma study and are equally transferable. Recognised as a challenging programme, the benefits of gaining an IB diploma are far reaching. An annual survey of UK university admissions officers, conducted by ACS International Schools with The International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association (IBSCA) and International Baccalaureate (IB), revealed that 87 per cent of officers believe the IBDP encourages independent enquiry well or very well; and 71 per cent also believe it nurtures an open mind. Eighty per cent state that it develops a global awareness and connectivity. Interestingly, the IBDP also came out top as the qualification providing the best preparation for a university style education – considerably ahead of the UK’s standard A levels qualification.

Similarly the AP programmes are highly valued by American universities and colleges due to the course being taught at a college level. Credit for courses is often awarded to students during their freshman years at university, helping to give them an advantage when starting their degree. The work ethic expected during an AP programme is something that can benefit students by helping them develop skills for university education like time management and organisation. It’s also been shown by numerous studies in the US that AP students have a higher rate of success at university than students without such qualifications or preparedness.

Becoming part of a global community

But qualifications are not the only measures of success: helping our students adapt to a wider global community is also an important focus for us and one way that we encourage this is by encouraging development of their language abilities. Our Native Language Enrichment, English as an Additional Language, and Language Skills classes enable students to maintain their own cultural roots whilst learning about other cultures and languages as part of their curriculum.

It’s also vital to develop key skills such as team work, time management and social responsibility. The Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) element of the IBDP taught at ACS helps to strengthen these attributes in our students.  Many ACS students have assisted in local community and environmental projects and worked with international development projects in Nepal, Bulgaria and Namibia, for example.
Some have also joined the Orbis flying eye hospital to help care for poverty stricken communities. Through participation in these projects our students are able to gain a multi-dimensional and socially responsible view of communities at work.

I do also firmly believe that most international schools are especially adept at providing a readymade, large and welcoming community for the whole family. At ACS we have years of experience helping new families to integrate with both school and other local family communities.  Numerous school events bring whole families on campus, while buddy schemes and social groups encourage and support wider interaction.
While some families may seek a national school in their host country believing that it will provide their child with a greater cultural experience, my own experience is quite the opposite.  Children settle and perform much better where their integration into a new school community quickly and easy, where they can quickly settle down to known work patterns, and where their pastoral needs as a ‘visitor’ are best understood and accommodated.  To my mind, an internationally mobile child is best served by an international school.

About ACS International Schools
ACS International Schools were founded in 1967 to serve international and local communities.  The schools are non-sectarian and co-educational (day and boarding), enrolling approximately 2,600 students aged 2 to 18 years.
ACS International Schools has over 30 years experience of teaching the International Baccalaureate at its campuses in the UK.