Education: Europeans in International Schools

The Bologna Process to create a European Higher Education Area is generally a positive development for TCKs studying in other education systems. The process has standardised the recognition of all of the European school leaving and university qualifications and created officially recognised levels of equivalence.

For example a student in Russian language education can know what the university entrance requirement is in that system for Germany, or from French education for the UK. The European universities have also standardised the recognition of non-European systems. This includes the USA where the Advanced Placement (AP) is a recognised university entrance exam across Europe. In the UK the AP is now built into the UCAS points system in the same way as A levels or the IB. Agencies, families and prospective university students need to be aware of this official recognition when applying.

This is an ongoing process and individual university officials may be unaware of equivalency and recognition. Results from a survey sent out to TCK schools under the EIMESC banner were presented.

Most schools recognise the need to actively plan for their non-English speaking children by providing English as an Additional Language (EAL) and first language teaching. A small minority of schools don’t offer EAL, although even here a number would like to. The shortage of EAL teachers is one of the main blocks. Very few schools offer first language teaching other than in English.

A few schools are now offering Korean learning alongside English given that they have large numbers of Korean children studying there. About half of the schools surveyed have sent delegates to conferences and about ¾ regularly receive magazines and e-bulletins that consider international issues.Few schools have an internationalisation policy that consider all of the various internationalisation concerns.

The conference recommended that the EIMESC survey be followed up by sending results back to the schools concerned. All schools need a cohesive internationalisation policy that includes all of the relevant issues – EAL, first language learning, re-entry outside of North America, staff training through advance courses, followed by conferences and reading when at the schools.

The model of internationalisation developed over the past 20 years at Bourofaye Christian School in Senegal involves an English language core curriculum leading to the Cambridge International GCSE followed by all students. This is supplemented by an extensive EAL programme and first language (mother tongue) teaching for non native English speakers. The largest groups there at the moment are the Brazilians and Koreans, but the programme extends to cover all language groups, using distance education materials if required. The ongoing need for first language teachers was highlighted as one of the biggest challenges faced in consistently implementing this policy.

Other schools run by SIL were noted as examples of similar innovative good practice in this area. The conference group commend these good examples to other MK & international schools given that first language skills are essential to the long-term well-being and re-entry prospects of our non-Anglophone students.


Christine Bryant & Alison Caligari (Bourofaye Christian School)

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