13 Jul The International Schools Database will help you find a school to suit your family’s needs
Founded by wife and husband team Andrea and Gerardo Robledillo, International Schools Database will help you find, research and compare international schools in cities all over the world. Having lived as expats for more than 15 years and having 2 children themselves, they know first hand how time consuming and confusing searching for a good school in an unfamiliar educational system can be.
What kind of information do you have about each school listed in your database?
Our database lists all the public information about each school and plenty of extra information too. We research every international school in the cities that we cover, manually checking and adding all of the important details that parents need: location, fees, curriculum and languages, average class sizes, etc. On top of that, we also contact each school individually to ask for more information that we may not have been able to find online. At the end of this process, we have a comprehensive, curated database with everything parents need to know about each school.
The database must be huge. How easy is it to navigate?
The database is very complete and therefore big, yes. We have 2,500 schools at the moment in 90+ cities. We have tried to make it as quick and easy as possible for parents to research schools using our database. Our perspective has always been to create the tool that we, as parents, would have liked to use to help us choose our children’s’ international school.
For example, key details like ages available, curriculum, languages, and fees are always front and centre. You can filter your results, and you can also easily compare schools as the information for each school is standardised and comparable. We recently added a comparison tool also, so you can see the pros and cons of your favourite schools at a glance.
Is it possible to personalise results?
Yes, absolutely. This is the feature that we are most proud of, because it makes the database so much more useful for parents. We understand that the best school for one family may not be the best for another. We all have different preferences and limitations. That’s why we created a virtual assistant to give a personal score to every school based on each family’s unique preferences.
First, they answer some questions about the kind of school they’re looking for. We take into account the language and curriculum they want, their budget, where they’ll be living and how important certain things about the school are for them (like having native teachers, or language support classes, or access to a bus service, or the size of the school, etc). The system then takes all of those answers and builds a personalised score and ranking of every school.
The end result is that every parent will see a different ranking of schools, matched specifically for them. They can dedicate their time to researching only those schools that are the best match, without having to sift through every school’s pros and cons themselves.
Is there a charge to use the database?
No, the database is completely free to use!
To what extent has your own experience helped you to set up the database?
This database is 100% based on our own experience. We have gone through the process of researching and choosing an international school for our children, and it was not easy. There was so much manual, repetitive work needed just to put together a shortlist of schools to research – never mind comparing them all.
The International Schools Database grew from this experience – we wished there had been some easy tool to help us, so we created it ourselves. We want to make finding the right international school an easier, better, more successful experience for everyone.
What do you consider to be the top 3 criteria when choosing an international school?
The most important criteria of an international school will be different for everyone. That’s why we allow parents to personalise their results when using our database.
However if we look at the aggregated anonymised answers of all our users, there are some criteria that stand out. For a huge majority of parents – 91% to be exact – having native speaking teachers is a driving factor in their decision. The same majority of users – 91% – factored extra curricular activities into their school choosing too. These vary widely from school to school, and can include anything from swimming to arts and crafts (and much more besides). Clearly, extending the school day and getting children fully involved in school life is something parents value highly. Finally, 86% of our users also factor in class size when choosing an international school.
For us personally, the 3 most important criteria that an international school must have are (1) that the teachers are native speakers of the language in which they instruct the students, (2) that the school has an open, multicultural environment for our children to have a truly international education, and (3) small class sizes and a modern approach to teaching, so our children can make the most of the education they are receiving.
If families have a chance to visit a school before applying what are the most important things for them to look out for?
In our opinion the key thing to watch for when visiting an international school is your child’s reaction to it. While you’re still in the school, it’s best not to ask them directly what they think. Their answer may be based on what they think you want to hear, rather than what they’re feeling.
Instead, keep your eyes and ears open to their body language, unprompted comments they make and their attitude during the visit. Wait a little while after the visit to give them time to take it all in, and then ask some general, open-ended questions to get them talking. Pay careful attention to what they say; they’ll have an entirely different perspective to you, but an equally important one.
And what questions do you suggest asking?
If you’re visiting a school you’re really interested in, you’ll already know the most important information like fees, curriculum etc. So instead focus on the things that aren’t so obvious. How do teachers and staff help a child who may be having trouble settling into the school? How do they deal with classroom disputes if/when they arise? What plans does the school have for the future – will they be offering new subjects, expanding the school campus, etc?
There are many other useful things to look for when visiting an international school. We have answered exactly this question in an article in our database here: https://www.international-
How much do school fees vary from country to country?
School fees can vary a lot from country to country, because there are a lot of different factors in play. The cost of living in the country and government funding for private schools can be two big drivers of prices. General supply and demand also has an effect.
China has the highest fees in the world because the demand for international schools is extremely high and the quality of education is excellent. Switzerland has the second most expensive fees – while the demand isn’t quite so huge there, the cost of living is higher.
Developing countries, particularly those in Africa and South East Asia, tend to be less expensive because the cost of living and the demand for international schools is still relatively low. In another few years, things could look quite different though.