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OR British families considering a move aboard, schools can cause a major headache. Harriet Plyler, editor of The Good Schools Guide


International (www.gsgi.co.uk) concedes that overseas schooling can be hit and miss, but urges parents not to lose heart. ‘It’s possible for your child to have a first-class education and be part of a dynamic com- munity and, when they leave, they’ll be fluent in more than one language.’ Research by Knight Frank suggests that


demand for international schools in Europe’s most popular destinations is rising: numbers at the International School of Florence have increased by 10% over the past five years; Mougins School in France has grown by 16% and Morna International College in Ibiza has doubled in size, mainly with British children. ‘People are becoming more open- minded about international schools,’ Miss Plyler continues. ‘They’re seeing them as a more interesting experience.’ Bill Thomson of Knight Frank in Tuscany


believes that, increasingly, families are moving abroad as a lifestyle choice. ‘People move to picturesque places such as Tuscany because they want to be there and are now able to work remotely,’ he says. Mr Thomson, who has lived in Italy for 25 years, toyed with sending his sons to boarding school in England, but is convinced he made the right choice by sending them to International School of Florence. Some schools pride themselves on offer-


ing a truly British education, following the National Curriculum, IGCSEs (the inter- national version of the exam, which doesn’t contain questions about UK-specific topics such as money or measurements and has less emphasis on correct spelling and grammar) and A levels. Others offer the International Baccalaureate (IB); some offer a combination of the two. But how can you be sure that the inter-


national establishment you’re considering will provide your child with as good an edu- cation as they would get at home? Miss Plyler admits that there are plenty of duds out there: of the 2,800-odd international schools


worldwide, only 260 are recommended by GSGI. The major barometer is results, she says. Parents should look at the raw data as well as analysing where pupils then go on to university. Where possible, parents should also seek


the opinion of other British families living locally and read any online reviews. The best establishments are the heart of the international community, where friendships are formed between all age groups. ‘It always amazes me how little bullying there is—the children are tuned in to making new arrivals feel welcome,’ Miss Plyler adds.


66 Country Life International, Spring 2014


In search of a school


Where are the best international schools in Europe? Anna Tyzack finds out


Switzerland Aiglon College, Chesières-Villars


www.aiglon.ch Ages 9–18 years, day and boarding Facilities and boarding houses occupy chalet- style buildings with panoramic views of the Swiss Alps and lessons are conducted in English with eight languages also on offer. Aiglon offers both a rigourous academic curri- culum and a challenging extracurricular pro- gramme made up of hiking expeditions, skiing four times a week and service projects in Thai- land, Peru and Rwanda. Founder of Round Square organisation, a network of 60 interna- tional schools. Offers GCSE, IGCSE, IB Relocation expert Luxury Places (www.luxury- places.ch)


International School of Geneva www.ecolint.ch Ages 3–18, day school La Châtaigneraie (known as ‘La Chât’) is the most attractive of the International School’s three campuses, enjoying views over Lake Geneva. It’s popular with British families, many who are based on the right bank or northern part of the city. After attending the luxurious new primary school, pupils move on to take IGCSEs, followed by the IB, achieving excellent results: the aver-


age score is 34 points out of a possible 45 (world average is 30). Offers IGCSE, IB Relocation expert Luxury Places (as above)


Le Rosey, Rolle www.rosey.ch Ages 8–18 years, boarding Le Rosey is among the most prestigious and expensive schools in the world—it’s known as ‘the school of kings’. The 380 boarders spend the winter months at the school’s premises in the ski resort of Gstaad and the summer at a manorial estate in Rolle on the shores of Lake Geneva. Lessons can be taken in either French or English and, as well as learning two or three further foreign languages, students are encour- aged to develop their ‘multiple intelligences’ by participating in clubs and societies, sports and artistic activities. Offers IB Relocation expert Luxury Places (as above)


France Mougins School


www.mougins-school.com Ages 3–18 years, day school Set in a forest near Sophia Antipolis, France’s ‘Silicon Valley’, Mougins Schools is popular with


www.countrylife.co.uk/international


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