Choosing the right school for your children is one of the biggest and most important decisions to make when living abroad. The below questions will help you gather the information needed to make the right choice.
It is also recommended to ask expat parents with children about their experiences with schools in Mumbai. The women’s expat group Mumbai Connexions and the mother-child groups such as Hopping Bunnies are good places to start looking for people to speak with.
Once you have made a short list, contact the schools to arrange tours during school hours. Ask to visit the classroom your child will attend and take a look at the kind of work the students are doing to be sure it is in line with the level of work appropriate for your son or daughter.
What to Ask
1) Which curriculum is followed? And how does this school’s curriculum differ from your child’s previous curriculum?
In India, the curriculum depends on the schools affiliation with various boards. These include the Central Board for Secondary Education board, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations board, the International Baccalaureate Program, the Cambridge International Examinations, and the National Institute of Open Schooling board.
Most Indian children are enrolled in state government boards, but most expat parents choose International Baccalaureate schools (IB schools) for their children. For many parents, this is the most important criterion.
2) What is the school’s approach to learning?
3) What is the teacher to student ratio? Is there a policy on maximum classroom size?
4) What are the qualifications of the teachers and how much experience do they have?
5) Are the teachers from India or overseas? And what is their level of English language proficiency?
6) How well can the school handle any special interests or needs your child may have?
7) If your child doesn’t speak English as a first language, are there English language specialists available for tutoring?
8) How much emphasis is on assessment? How are the students assessed? How are the parents informed of their child’s assessment and progress?
Most Indian schools are notorious for placing emphasis on passing standardized tests. Test scores are so important that you’ll sometimes see banners on buildings boasting a child’s high test score next to the student’s photo and name.
9) What are the school’s facilities for sports, music, art, IT, gymnasiums, and playgrounds?
10) Does the school have a dress code or uniform policy?
11) What kind of food is provided in the school cafeteria? Are the food preparation areas sanitized properly? How does the school handle food allergies?
12) How long will it take to commute to the school from your home in peak hours? Is transport provided?
13) What kind of after school programs available?
14) What is the school’s security policy?
15) How can parents be involved with the school?
16) What are the fees for: tuition, enrollment or registration, transport, lunches, extra-curricular activities, books, and materials. Are any of the fees refunded upon leaving the school? How much of the total bill will be paid for by your (or your spouse’s) company?