In the past, selecting a school for your child was often limited to considering public schools. However, nowadays, parents in Vietnam have a wider range of options, including public, private, and international schools. Many parents enroll children in international schools early for quality education and opportunities. However, due to the diversity and novelty of international schools, parents may find it challenging to choose the right one.
It is crucial to understand how foreign-based schools operate when choosing the right school for your child. Unlike public and private schools in Vietnam, international schools have distinct educational programs that differ from the traditional curriculum mandated by the Ministry of Education. Additionally, this type of school offers unique extracurricular activities, a distinct school culture, and new skill requirements. Each school has its unique teaching methodology, which may differ from what parents are familiar with in Vietnamese public schools. Without a clear understanding of the chosen international school, parents may make inappropriate choices that hinder their child’s learning journey.
To address this concern, this article will highlight the three important considerations when choosing an international school. Everest Education (“E2”) believes that the insights shared below will provide a solid foundation for families as they prepare to enroll their children in a foreign-based learning environment.
1. Differentiate educational system of each international school
International schools in Vietnam follow various educational systems. However, the majority of schools adhere to three main programs: Cambridge (A-Level), IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme), and AP (Advanced Placement).
The UK, Wales
Scope of application
The UK and some other countries
Providing age-specific diversity with a selection of 30 distinct subjects
Academically rigorous with 6 subject groups and 20 subjects
Offering a diverse range of over 50 subjects
Students must sit the exam, which is graded A*- E. They are required to take the IGCSE exam before A Level
Students receive a final exam grade, ranging from 1 to 7 (the highest score). They are recommended to take the IGCSE exam before the IBDP
Students have to sit AP exam for taken courses, graded from score of 1 to 5, 3 and above is pass
Students have the freedom to choose subjects based on their abilities, capabilities, and future orientation
Students receive multidisciplinary training through subject groups and projects
Students have the opportunity to select multiple subjects to delve deeper into their areas of interest and develop skills in pursuing in-depth research
Cambridge (A-Level) is based on the educational model of England and Wales. In this system, the grades and certificates from Cambridge examinations hold international value and are widely recognized. It offers a range of flexible programs, including Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Secondary 1, Cambridge Secondary 2 (IGCSE), and Cambridge Advanced (A-Levels).
The Cambridge education system provides opportunities for students to actively engage in the learning process. Teaching methods often involve practical activities, research, projects, and group discussions to encourage deep understanding of topics and the development of self-learning skills. Particularly, the system places a high priority on moral and personal values. Therefore, international schools following the Cambridge education system not only focus on holistic skill development (language skills, logical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity) but also encourage students to develop critical thinking and self-learning abilities by integrating human values and ethics into the teaching process.
b. IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme):
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a globally recognized educational program originating from Switzerland. IBDP grades can be used for admissions to the world’s top universities. The IB education system includes the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Diploma Programme (DP). One notable feature of the IBDP compared to other schools is that students in this system experience independent research from an early stage.
The IBDP offers a diverse range of subjects, including six subject groups: Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and Arts. Students choose one subject from each group and may select additional subjects based on their preferences and learning needs. This system helps students develop research and self-learning skills and serves as a strong foundation for admission to prestigious universities worldwide. Specifically, students are required to undertake an independent research project in their area of interest during their studies. Thus, students in the IBDP not only focus on acquiring knowledge but also develop comprehensive skills through programs that enhance communication, critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork abilities.
c. AP (Advanced Placement):
The Advanced Placement (AP) program in the United States is an advanced curriculum designed for high school students. The AP program is accompanied by national exams held at the end of the academic year, which assess students’ knowledge and skills in various subjects. Similar to the aforementioned systems, scores from AP exams can be accepted and recognized by many universities nationally and internationally. This educational system helps students prepare for the college environment and provides opportunities to earn college credits before graduation.
The AP program consists of a range of courses, from foundational to advanced levels. Students can choose from a wide variety of subjects, including languages, sciences, social sciences, mathematics, arts, and engineering. This allows students to delve deep into their areas of interest and develop skills for in-depth research. It is important for parents to note that AP courses have content and difficulty levels equivalent to college courses. The AP program provides a challenging environment for students to develop self-learning skills and explore their creativity. Students are encouraged to conduct in-depth research, analyze information, solve complex problems, collaborate effectively, and communicate efficiently.
2. Seek advice and evaluations from other parents
Typically, parents will search for information about international schools online to make the best decision for their child. However, general information about the school may not be sufficient to make such an important decision. To gain a better understanding of the learning experience and teaching quality of each school, parents should seek advice from students or parents who have children attending that particular school. Through direct sharing from individuals who have experienced the educational environment at the school, parents will have more diverse and accurate perspectives, learning additional useful information that may be difficult to find on the Internet. With this information, parents can make a more informed decision.
3. Consider the school’s available resource
In addition to the quality of education and curriculum, the resources provided by the school your child is preparing to attend are also an important factor to consider. International schools generally have stronger financial capabilities compared to other schools, resulting in better facilities and amenities. However, it should be noted that not all international schools have the same level of resources and resource allocation. Typically, each school focuses on and invests more in outstanding activities for students. These activities may be traditional events or activities with exceptional achievements compared to other schools. Some schools prioritize investing resources in the development of extracurricular activities, while others focus on academic achievements. The allocation of resources depends largely on the school’s development direction and the strengths of its students. Therefore, parents can seek the experiences of other students at the school or consult with the school for a better understanding of its developmental direction. From there, parents can carefully consider which international school aligns with their child’s developmental goals.
Above are the three fundamental steps for parents to consider when choosing an international school for their children in the future. Additionally, parents can also take into account other factors such as extracurricular activities or the school’s approach to teaching life skills, etc. to make the most suitable decision.
If parents desire deeper consultation regarding school selection factors, we invite you to visit Everest Education. Everest Education has been a long-standing partner of international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, with over 10 years of experience accompanying students on their journey to conquer their dream schools. Therefore, we are confident in providing parents with valuable support in choosing the appropriate international school for your children. Deciding on the appropriate school for children’s education can be challenging for parents who are new to exploring the diversity of international schools. Therefore, Everest Education hopes that this article can serve as an initial step to support parents in thoroughly researching international schools in the area, in order to provide your children with a suitable school and an excellent learning experience.