Education is a hugely important part of a child’s life. For parents, choosing where to send a child to school is one of the biggest decisions to make. When Mum and Dad uproot their child to a new country, new city and new life, the right International School can help make the transition seamless. That means that for many parents, the stakes are even higher when choosing an International School.

The International Schools Database not only helps parents find International Schools in their new home from home - we also match those schools with the needs of both child and parent. Parents tell us their preferences and requirements, then we match and score those preferences with every single International School in their chosen city. In other words, we know exactly what parents want from an International School, and we know the driving factors that make them choose one school over another.

And we want to share those secrets with you.

What do parents want the most from an International School?

We took a look at our user data to see which search preferences are most commonly ranked as ‘very important’, ‘nice to have’ or ‘not important’. The deciding factors are clear to see:

Native Speaking Teachers

For a huge majority of our users - 91% to be exact - having native speaking teachers is a driving factor in their decision. This means that the teachers are native speakers in the language of instruction, not the native language of the country the school is in. So for example if a child is living in Paris but studying the British curriculum (taught in English), their teachers will be native speakers of English.

Extra Curricular Activities

The same majority of users - 91% - factored extra curricular activities into their school choosing. 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 expat parents value highly.  

Extra Languages

Expat parents seem well aware of the advantages of learning multiple languages; 39% of our users said that it was ‘very important’ for an international school to offer additional language classes. In this case, we define ‘additional languages’ as any language other than the language of instruction in the school. Using the same example as before, if a child is studying the British curriculum through English, additional language classes could be French, German or any other language the school can offer.

Class Size

A whole 86% of our users also factor in class size when choosing an International School. Our scoring algorithm considers classes of 12 students or less as small (i.e. ideal) and classes of 24 or more students as large (i.e not ideal). It then awards points on a sliding scale, with classes of 12 or less receiving maximum points and classes of 24 or more receiving zero points.

... And what is not so important?

It turns out price is something of an afterthought for many parents; only 28% of our users classed it as very important. However it’s worth remembering that for an initial search, parents may not have a budget in mind or may not want to limit their search based on budget.

School distance was also not important for 69% of users. Many parents using our database may not have moved to the city they are searching in yet, and so distance is not yet part of the equation. However, what this result does show is that above all, choosing the right school (regardless of where it may be located) is the goal for most parents.

Finally school size (as opposed to class size, which we’ve already discussed) ranked low with 79% classing it as unimportant. For context, we define a ‘small school’ as having less than 500 enrolled students.

How does school scoring work?

As part of our mission to be the ultimate source of information on International Schools, we collect all the available data from every school ourselves. We also attempt to contact every single school, so the schools themselves can verify and add to what we already know. This comes in the form of a simple questionnaire filled in by school administrators, and is a completely free service we provide.

We show all the answers to this questionnaire in a prominent section on the school’s profile (called ‘all the details about this school in their own words’). These answers are also what we use to match schools with parents’ preferences. If we don’t have data for a particular preference, we give that preference a score of 0. So of course, those schools that share more information about themselves will achieve better scores.

In conclusion...

We've seen that languages (be it native speaking teachers, additional language classes or extra language support) and extra-curricular activities are top priorities for parents when choosing an International School. Again, this proves one thing for certain; more so than anything else, parents want a school that can show and prove that it will offer their child the best education and the best experience possible. It's that simple.

Any questions?

We would be happy to talk to you or answer any questions you may have about the International Schools Database.
To get in touch, just send an email to Andrea at