There has been an absolute explosion in the KL international schooling market over the past few years. While previously there had only been a handful of international schools for parents to choose from, now there are over 35 (yes, 35!) schools for parents to choose from.
A few points regarding the KL international schooling scene:
There are 11 international schools that most teachers and parents in Kuala Lumpur would consider 'top tier' (see our earlier blog post on the tiering classification) and that charge top dollar. Annual fees for a Year 1 student in these schools range anywhere from 45,000RM to 86,000RM - and that's not including the schools' application fees, registration fees or deposits.
These 'top tier' schools mostly hold excellent academic reputations and several are world-leaders in teaching and learning innovations, arts and/or sports; many of them also boast outstanding facilities and resourcing. However, the common key denominator between these schools is the calibre of their leadership and teaching faculties. These schools look after their staff and thus can recruit the very best. As parents, you can be assured that your child/ren will be taught be expatriate, highly-qualified staff, many with several years of British and/or international teaching experience behind them. Countless pieces of academic research show, time and time again, that is the quality of the teacher in the classroom that has the biggest impact on your child's learning (more on this in another blog post soon!).
There are then no less than 26 (!) other international schools in the mid to lower price range. Most, but not all, offer the Cambridge IGCSE at Secondary, followed by either the British A Levels (most common) or the International Baccalaureat (IB, less common). These schools range enormously in price, from 14,000RM per year up to 38,000RM per year for a Year 1 student.
Now, some of these schools offer an excellent quality of education for the price. Some employ a mixed range of well-qualified expatriate and local teaching staff. Some have fantastic facilities and a wide range of CCA opportunities. Some produce impressive academic results, year upon year. Teaching and learning in some of these schools is excellent.
Others may employ primarily local teaching staff, paid local wages, with dubious qualifications. They may have high student/teacher ratios, and a lack of technology and/or other important teaching resources. Facilities may be limited and/or poor. Teaching might be confined to lecturing and rote-learning. Pastoral care might be limited or non-existent. The term 'international' may be just a word thrown into the name, with only lip-service paid to it on a day-by-day basis: a local school, just with higher fees.
So how do you know which is which? The short answer: it's tough.
Online websites (like those cited below) are very helpful at giving you a quick snapshot of these schools but don't distinguish any further between them. Thus, as a parent new to KL, and it can be very difficult to determine which schools may suit their child/ren without spending many, many hours on research and school visits.
This is where we can help - we've done the research for you, and have visited the schools personally so that we can give you first-hand knowledge of them. We know what a good school looks like and we are experts at matching families with the right schools.
Contact us if you'd like our professional support.
There are some great resources available online to give you quick 'snapshots' of the different international schools in Kuala Lumpur.
For example, EducationDestinationMalaysia offers a useful 'school finder', which allows you to search for schools by your child's age, desired curriculum and budget. They also produce some helpful infographics, for example these ones which summarise which schools offer Cambridge and which offer the IPC (International Primary Curriculum). The site also has a number of useful articles on international schooling in Malaysia and further abroad.
SchoolAdvisor.My is another useful site, giving quick summaries (curriculum, location, teaching levels offered & student/teacher ratio) of KL international & private schools as well as some useful articles for parents. A similar site is the International Schools Database, which also has a handy interactive map which clearly shows where different international schools are in KL: useful for parents just beginning to think about where they might live and work here, and what schools might be close by.