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Leading International Schools 2018
Leading International Schools 2018

The term ‘International Schools’ originally applied to schools that solely catered for expatriate communities in certain countries. These schools tended to be staffed by nationals from the expatriate country of origin and to teach a curriculum that was based on the one found in the home country. So, a school founded to educate children of UK expats living in Singapore would typically have an English school curriculum and English or English-speaking teachers and staff.

In more recent years though, the International Schools label has expanded to cover schools that set out to foster a global or international outlook in the minds of their students. In addition to expat students, these schools can have a significant local student population as parents in the host country, eager to broaden the horizons and experiences of their children, enroll them as pupils. These schools teach an international curriculum, typically English or American, will have English as their primary teaching language and will prepare pupils for a relatively seamless transition to higher education institutions beyond their country of residence.

Some of the other typical criteria that define International Schools are:

  • Smaller class sizes and engaged students. 
  • Multinational and multilingual student body.
  • International accreditation (e.g. Council of International Schools, International Baccalaureate, North Eastern Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges).
  • A rotating and multinational teacher population. 

Read down for details on some of the globes’ Leading International Schools.


Most of Austria's population is bilingual or trilingual, with many fluent in English. The country offers a broad spectrum of educational opportunities together with great social security and economic stability. It is blessed with a unique intercultural perspective and is a welcoming and friendly home to international families.

Many different international curricula are available to Austrian pupils from pre-kindergarten to advanced degree level. International Schools are popular with expatriate parents, bicultural families, and internationally-minded Austrian parents.

Most of Austria’s privately-run, International Schools are based in Vienna. The most popular schools offer an excellent educational standard, but present a significant investment and tend to have limited space. It is common for schools to have a long waiting list so parents are advised to apply as soon as possible.

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Austria's Leading International Schools 2018


There are a number of private and International Schools in Brazil, largely concentrated in the main cities of Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Most International Schools in Brazil follow the British or American curricula, with American teachers being the norm, while some others cater to other nationalities, including French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Other International Schools offer the International Baccalaureate diploma.

Due to the higher standard of education offered at International Schools in Brazil, many sophisticated Brazilians choose to educate their children at these institutions. Many International Schools have a multicultural student body with children from all over the world.

Many of these schools provide similar standards to comparable schools around the globe, providing students with an easy transition to schools in different countries. These International Schools offer high standards of learning, boast smaller class sizes, first-rate facilities, and varied extracurricular activities.

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Brazil's Leading International Schools 2018


Despite its small population, Brunei is home to a handful of Internationals Schools, with two of the biggest institutions being located in the capital. These academies are based around a global curriculum, typically from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France. Accreditation from an International School is usually recognized globally making it relatively easy for students to continue their education in another country should the need arise.

Instruction can be given in any language, since many of them are taught in schools. Teachers tend to use English, French, Spanish, Dutch, German and Japanese for instruction and general communication. Expat students from Europe and Asia particularly find the transition from home to this country quite smooth, since the standards are quite similar.

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Brunei's Leading International Schools 2018


The cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou host a number of established International Schools, and increasing numbers of accredited small international schools are being opened in other cities across China. Some schools are run specifically for the education of particular nationalities, such as Japanese and German schools in Beijing, while others take all nationalities.

With increasing numbers of expatriates entering China, it has been reported that there is a higher demand for places in International Schools than there are places available. The cost of an International School education is relatively expensive in China compared to other countries, which parents should be aware of.

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China's Leading International Schools 2018


Croatian International Schools are the perfect solution for an expat student and are popular given the number of multinational corporation executives, children of diplomats and NGO staff in Croatia. There may be local pupils too, but the schools are generally geared for an international student body. Schools may follow a curriculum model from the US, UK, France or Australia/New Zealand. Primary instruction can be any language (and multiple languages are usually taught), but it is usually in English or French with additional languages offered.

Many schools provide similar standards of schooling around the globe, providing for an easy transition between schools elsewhere in the world. Schools often provide internationally accepted accreditation such as the International Baccalaureate.

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Croatia's Leading International Schools 2018

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a vibrant city where students are exposed to both Eastern and Western cultures. The city is globally connected, taking the role as a business center of Asia and a gateway to China. Partly due to the challenge of learning Cantonese (which is used in local schools) there has been a development of respected private schools in parallel to the Hong Kong’s public educational sector. The region boasts about 50 International Schools that offer curricula of the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, Singapore and the IB organization. These schools are an excellent option for parents who would like their child to be educated in the style of their home country, notably with regards to language. Language skill is a major factor in international school admission, with most schools requiring a language test in addition to more traditional entry requirements.

The International School sector is diverse, providing a high-quality education for kindergarten, primary and secondary school children of international families living in the city and families coming to Hong Kong for work or investment. Students are a mix of expat and local families. Each school has slightly different admissions deadlines and procedures. Some International Schools accept applications from birth and other schools accept applications only usually one or two years before intended entry. Submitting the application early will not increase the priority of admissions. Applications after the published deadlines will be considered subject to available places and special circumstances of overseas applicants.

All International Schools in Hong Kong charge application fees. Some schools may also charge students participating in an assessment an extra fee. By law, all fee structures should be clearly listed on the school websites. In most of the cases applicants can request for a roll-over of application if it is not successful, however the application fee is non-refundable.

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Hong Kong's Leading International Schools 2018


American and British International Schools are well-represented across India and a number of schools allied to other countries have opened in larger cities.

India attracts large expat populations as well so schools tend to have a mix of local and international students. The schools in India usually follow curriculum of their home country. Their classes are usually held in English, and sometimes in the local language as well. This increases the students' chances of studying abroad. Final exams usually match the ones of their home countries, such as the British A-Level. In addition, some schools offer their students to take Indian final exams as well.

Parents are advised to be sure they are considering top tier schools with valid and current accreditation from recognized international authorities.

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India's Leading International Schools 2018


A wide array of International Schools can be found in Rome and Milan with many more scattered in urban centers across Italy. Curricula offered include American, British, French and many more.

There can be stiff competition for the limited places available in prestigious International Schools, so it's always best to start applications as early as possible. Admission requirements vary from institution to institution, but previous school records are standard and in some cases extra steps may be needed, such as the child attending a personal interview or taking admission tests.

Italian International Schools often have a significant native Italian population as many parents are keen for their children to excel at a second language. The International Schools provide similar standards of schooling around the globe, making for an easy transition between schools located abroad. All schools are required to satisfy the requirements of the Italian national system.

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Italy's Leading International Schools 2018


Japan is home of many International Schools offering first class education and many different curricula to choose from, with some incorporating a religious curriculum (typically Christian-based). International Schools are popular with expatriate parents, bicultural families where one of the parents is an expatriate, internationally-minded Japanese parents, and parents with children with special educational needs.

Most International Schools will teach general courses in English, but there are also schools that cater specifically to French, German, Portuguese, Chinese and Korean expats, as well as some other nationalities.

The majority of schools cover pupils of kindergarten, elementary and middle grades age, as high school is considered optional in Japan, but a few schools do go up to Grade 12.

Admission requirements for International Schools differ widely and, of course, depend on the school. Some require a certain level of English ability (if English is not the child's first language). Many require students to reside near the school, as very few schools have boarding facilities.

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Japan's Leading International Schools 2018


There are a number of high quality International Schools in South Korea, particularly in Seoul. Many are American-curriculum schools or follow an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) while retaining an American focus. There are also French and British curriculum schools.

Korean International Schools offer a good alternative for expats who wish to keep their children in an international education system while living and working abroad. Most schools will also count local students amongst their student bodies as Korean families value the multicultural and global perspective that an International School can offer their children.

Generally, International Schools are of a high teaching quality standard and boast small class sizes, and the pricing can reflect this. Some international schools also require an admission test for 1st-9th grade students. The admission test includes an interview, reading, writing and math tests. Most of the schools accept applications throughout the year, however, the system works according to a “first come, first serve” principle (among other criteria). The best option is to apply as early as possible before the school year starts. The British, European and American systems have different schedules, make sure to check the relevant term dates before applying.

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Korea's Leading International Schools 2018


Expats who wish to have their children enroll in the curriculum of their home country or a country other than Malaysia should consider International Schools. Most International Schools in Malaysia are based in Kuala Lumpur. These schools usually maintain the culture, primary teaching language and teaching methodologies of the curriculum that they are based on. The most prominent schools in Kuala Lumpur adhere to the British National Curriculum, but may follow a curriculum model from the US, France, or elsewhere. Primary instruction may be any language (and multiple languages are usually taught), but it is usually in English. Schools also provide internationally accepted accreditation such as the International Baccalaureate.

In these International Schools, expat students will not only avoid the culture shock that they might encounter at public schools, they will also get the opportunity to socialize with classmates from their home country as local families also send their children to the schools, all giving students a more international and well-rounded perspective.

Admission into an International School is easier than admission into a public school. This is because the fees are not subsidized by the local government and, most of the time, the process can be easily completed at the school itself without any external bureaucracy. In addition to this, the cost of an International School education is low in Malaysia when compared to many other countries, giving excellent value for money.

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Malaysia's Leading International Schools 2018


International Schools can be the perfect solution for an expat student (multinational corporation executives, children of diplomats, NGO staff) in Mexico. Most International Schools in Mexico are located in large cities, such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. English and American, as well as German, French and Japanese schools are available in the country. Primary instruction may be in any language (and multiple languages are usually taught), but it is usually in English. Tuition varies greatly from affordable to a significant investment for the most elite schools.

Mexican International Schools usually have a significant local student population as well as good number of international pupils - this helps lend a well-rounded perspective for children studying at them.

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Mexico's Leading International Schools 2018


Spain has not historically been known as a destination for international education. However, with the advent of private schools with international boarding facilities, the situation has changed significantly, especially with regards to the number of schools who offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) or British programs.

These schools, with their high academic standards, are considered innovators within the Spanish educational community, especially in the areas of methodology, facilities, academic resources, sports and arts installations.

A considerable advantage of a relatively recent expansion of International Schools in Spain, is that their cost can be significantly less than in other comparable European countries, with the added bonus being offered of being able to learn a language as important as Spanish while maintaining or improving the level of English.

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Spain's Leading International Schools 2018


There are both public and private International Schools in Sweden. The private schools have more educational flexibility than the state school systems and are able to prioritize subjects that are the most relevant to international students. Children of all nationalities, including Swedish children, are welcome at most International Schools.

Prominent International Schools in Stockholm follow the British and International Baccalaureate curriculum. These schools all have classes taught in English, with Swedish language lessons forming part of the syllabus. Swedish International Schools can have long waiting lists, so it’s best for parents to plan ahead and apply for a spot for their children as early as possible.

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Sweden's Leading International Schools 2018


Many expats and local parents send their children to International Schools in Switzerland, despite the quality of its public schools, as Swiss International Schools are among the best in the world. Typically, they offer international diplomas, such as the International Baccalaureate, British

Curriculum, American, French or Swiss curriculum, with many schools offering a combination of different curricula. You will find day or boarding schools in most of the larger cities, where international companies and organizations are located. Especially the Lake Geneva region has a high International School density.

Competition for the best schools can be intense so parents are advised to get applications in early and have a short list of schools to apply to.

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Switzerland's Leading International Schools 2018


International Schools have existed in Taiwan since the middle of the 20th century, with the American and Japanese schools in Taipei being the oldest. However, European and religious denominational schools have also sprung up on the island to cater to a diverse student population. These schools offer markedly different curriculums and learning environments from indigenous schools.

The quality and facilities of any private institution can vary, so parents looking to enroll their child should take a variety of factors into consideration when selecting a school: from language of instruction, curriculum focus and educational comparability with schools in a possible future country of residence.

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Taiwan's Leading International Schools 2018


All of Thailand’s International Schools are accredited by external bodies and it follows that both learning standards and the criteria for hiring teachers is high. Many Thais prefer to send their children to these schools, and as a result, it's normal for their student bodies to consist primarily of locals.

These schools also tend to be well-financed, boast modern facilities, small class sizes and an impressive range of extra-curricular activities.

Thailand's International Schools offer a healthy assortment of curricula to cater to many home-country demands. Certain schools prepare students for SAT, A-Level, IGCSE and IB exams.

Expat parents should note that popular schools have long waiting lists and admission may be based on language proficiency and academic achievement.

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Thailand's Leading International Schools 2018

United Kingdom

The UK hosts a whole range of International Schools that follow the American, French, Japanese, Canadian and Australian national curricula. That London has the largest variety of institutions should come as no surprise, although there are many notable and worthy schools located around the county that can lend a different perspective on English culture and the learning environment. Many of these schools are located in historic buildings and can be places of interest in their own right.

School student populations are typically very diverse and multicultural - tending to lean toward a combination of local children as well as expat pupils hailing from all over the world.

Education standards are typically excellent although costs can be on the high side.

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United Kingdom's Leading International Schools 2018


International Schools as institutions are still a relatively recent phenomenon in Vietnam, with the first one only opening its doors 30 years ago.

Over recent years though, there has been a growth in the number of these schools in Vietnam, due in part to the demands of the country’s growing expat population. As a result, Vietnam can boast a number of prestigious International Schools - particularly in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City. These schools offer top-quality education to both expats and local Vietnamese families.

The International Schools can be divided into two types: the first having an international curriculum with all lessons held in English (and sometimes French), and the second teaching a Vietnamese curriculum with only extended English classes.


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Vietnam's Leading International Schools 2018