School Guide

What to consider when choosing an international school for your child

Published by SchoolAdvisor on Dec 02, 2020, 01:50 AM

All parents want the very best education for their child. That’s why, in Malaysia, international schools have become a popular choice for many parents.  Compared to a public or private education, international schools are able to equip their students with a range of skills and abilities which will set them up for success in higher education, their future careers and beyond. International schools possess many attributes valuable to a child’s academic and social development, such as providing:

- An integrated community for cultural diversity

- An international curriculum that allows children to compete alongside other students from around the world. 

- Education in the English language, which is important for communication on the global stage

With these benefits in mind, what factors should you consider when choosing an international school for your child? 

Dr Glenn Moodie, Principal of KTJ

Dr Glenn Moodie, principal of Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ), understands the challenges of selecting the best school for your child. He goes on to share how KTJ,  an international and boarding school located in Negeri Sembilan, is able to assure parents on student outcomes and nurture well-rounded global citizens.

“KTJ was founded as a British school with the purpose of providing a British-style boarding education within Malaysia. As such, we feel a great sense of duty to educating the next generation of Malaysian leaders,” says Dr Moodie. 

The defining factors that make KTJ stand out are its strong set of guiding principles, which are integrity, empathy and mutual respect, and the belief in a holistic approach to education.

“The result is that we educate the whole person. It’s not just academics, though these are important. It has to do with sport, community service, creative and performing arts, leadership and public speaking. It is also about building character and engendering a global perspective,” he explains.

Not just about schoolwork

According to Dr Moodie, it is of utmost importance for international schools to focus on both academic studies and the mental health of the child. 

He shares, “Young people are certainly under more pressure with their academic studies than previous generations. The global village has created a world where everyone wants to attend the same universities; while social media has created a world where everyone is apparently brilliant and perfect. This combination can take its toll on young people.”

KTJ addresses this issue by ensuring that their students’ academic and pastoral needs are well taken care of. Their Student Support Services include a dedicated English as an Additional Language (EAL) department, a Learning Support team and two in-house School Counsellors. This is combined with pastoral care which includes pairing students with a designated teacher mentor and a student buddy, as well as nurturing an environment of openness and sharing regarding mental health.

KTJ provides a nurturing environment where students feel able to talk openly about mental health.

“Staff and students talk openly about mental health, about mental health issues and about good mental health. There is no stigma attached to it at KTJ and this is always the first barrier which needs breaking down,” clarifies Dr Moodie.

Marked improvements are seen in an environment where students do not feel the need to hide their stresses and problems. Their mental health improves, and they can better focus on their studies and social development.

Extra-curricular activities, a central part of KTJ, also perform as an outlet for students to release their stress and anxieties, whilst developing new skills and forming bonds with their peers.

The learning processes

An important aspect which should be considered by parents is the school’s approach to teaching and learning. A subject is best taught by a teacher who actively engages with the students, is passionate about the subject and cares for the students’ wellbeing. Most importantly, a good learning centre encourages the children to reach out on their own and discover new things independently.

At KTJ, learning is student-centric. Teachers are given freedom in the classroom to teach in whatever method they feel is best, as long as they adhere to KTJ’s standards of teaching and learning. Children are encouraged to learn and discover things on their own, and at the end of the day it’s their progress that counts.

KTJ encourages students to try new things in order to develop resilience, curiosity and adaptability.

“At the end of the day, what we want is for our students to not just be prepared for the next stage of their education but for the rest of their lives,” reveals Dr Moodie. “We value risk taking, resilience, collaboration, curiosity and adaptability, amongst other things.”

Indeed, this education strategy has proved its effectiveness repeatedly. Many KTJ students graduate with flying colours, with over 92% of its graduates achieving A* to B grades in their A-level exams. Furthermore, 76% of KTJ’s graduates have gone on to study at prestigious universities worldwide which include Cambridge, University College London, and the University of Toronto.

Dr Moodie also asserts that the school’s students go on to excel in later life. “Our alumni work in almost every graduate field you can think of and in all corners of the world,” he says. 

Fees, costs, and logistics

Another important factor to consider is the affordability of a school. It isn’t just about the fees – families who don’t live near the school might need to factor in costs for transportation or boarding.

Additionally, many schools are not transparent when it comes to “hidden costs”.  Included in KTJ’s fees are field trips, school meals and nearly all extra-curricular activities (excluding specialist sport or tuition, such as golf). It’s vital to check on the costs involved and there is no harm in seeking assistance that the school may provide. For example, KTJ provides a 5% discount for parents who pay the full yearly fee at the beginning of the year, and offers another 5% discount per head for families with more than one child attending the school.

KTJ is also offering a generous grant in celebration of their 30th Anniversary. This limited offer provides deposit assistance for primary, secondary and sixth form students who would like to enrol in the school for January 2021. The deadline for this offer is 22nd December, and more information can be found here

A happy child makes a happy student

The most important question a parent should ask when choosing a school would be, “Will this school suit my child’s needs best?”

Parents’ main priority is to ensure their children grow up with the skills they need to excel in life. Of course, this involves finding the best education for your children. However, other things factor in such as community, relationships with others, a good environment, and freedom to play and explore. Consider what you know about your children – do they love sports? Are they outgoing and friendly? Do they enjoy writing and drawing? These aspects of your children should factor in your search for a school, which should be a place where your children can nurture their talents and hobbies and grow as people.

KTJ provides a space where children can develop their unique skills and talents.

Dr Moodie admits, “For me, the most important thing is ‘will your child be happy?’ That’s what really matters. We highly encourage all parents and students to visit our school and get a feel for our learning environment. In the end, first-class facilities and excellent academic results mean nothing if there isn’t a warmth and a heart to a school. We function as a family here at KTJ, providing students with a nurturing environment where they can thrive and flourish.”

Founded in 1991, Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ) is a premier British International school which provides high-quality day and boarding education for children aged 3 – 19 years. Based on an impressive 80 acre site, KTJ has established a reputation as one of the best co-educational schools in the region, allowing students to develop their unique characters and talents in a nurturing and inspiring environment.

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