Making a decision about the best school for your child can be a challenging and time consuming task. The quality of your child's education will impact his/her future so it is important to ask questions and to ask for documentation to back up claims. You will never regret the time you invested in making the right decision and providing the very best education for your child.
A number of new schools have opened up recently in Ho Chi Minh City and it is important to consider these essential questions when making your decision:
Does the school offer the appropriate curriculum for your child?
The curriculum at your child’s school should be well respected around the world and able to translate easily with the next move. The approach should be child-centered and challenging enough to develop each child's strengths and love of learning. Also, the course offerings should be extensive enough to meet your child's needs. At ISHCMC, we proudly offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum which is one of the most respected and sought after curriculums in the world, not only supporting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and learning requirements of our future leaders but also supporting the needs of globally mobile transient families.
ISHCMC is the only authorised International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Ho Chi Minh City that provides an IB curriculum (PYP, MYP, and IBDP) to all of their students, from ages 2 to 18 years. The IB curriculum was specifically created to meet the needs of an internationally mobile student body, and at its core is the requirement to take into consideration the needs of the whole child and to use differentiated teaching techniques to support each child to meet their maximum potential. It is a well-rounded course of studies that offers a very challenging academic inquiry-based curriculum and also considers the social and emotional development of students.
What are the accreditations of the school?
Accreditation agencies ensure that you are getting everything your child needs from a school. They provide a standard of quality and benchmarks that schools must adhere to so that they gain and remain an accredited school. Accreditation agencies look at curriculum, facilities, qualifications and professional development for teachers and a number of other essential elements of a good education. You should always check the accreditations of any school you are seriously considering and the reputation of the accrediting agencies. Also, find out if the accreditation agency certifies the entire school or only the curriculum. If only the curriculum, then the accreditation agency does not consider the qualifications of the teaching staff, appropriate resources for the students or the admissions policies.
ISHCMC is the only school in Ho Chi Minh City that is fully accredited by both The Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of School and Colleges (NEASC), two of the most prestigious international school accreditation organisations.
What are the qualifications and experience of the teachers?
One of the biggest expenses of operating an international school is the cost of paying well qualified and experienced international teaching staff. Unfortunately, it can be the first place where a school can cut costs to save money. Ask for the average number of years of teaching experience and professional qualifications of the teaching staff at the school you are visiting. Also, inquire about whether the school employs specialist teachers for Art, Physical Education, Foreign Language and Music.
At ISHCMC, we are proud to say that we employ some of the most experienced and most highly qualified teachers in all of Vietnam. 68% of our teachers have more than 10 years of teaching experience and we actively recruit teachers who have experience teaching in international schools or in multi-national classrooms. 27% of our teachers have Master Degrees with several others undertaking postgraduate programmes. Also, teachers at ISHCMC continue to learn while they are with us. The standards of CIS and NEASC (our accrediting agencies) require ISHCMC to enhance teaching and learning through ongoing, active professional development throughout the school year. ISHCMC provides it’s teachers with a schedule of development opportunities on campus throughout the school year as well as provides a substantial annual budget to spend on individual professional development. They are also able to apply to the Headmaster for further professional development funding on a case by case scenario should they and the Headmaster think it will support the mission of the school.
What are the school’s testing results and what types of universities are their graduating students able to attend?
How does the school test the students to determine where they stand against other students around the world? Also, what type of schools are accepting graduates of the school? Ask for a list of universities that have accepted last year’s graduates to determine how this school is viewed by other educational institutions.
The ISA is an assessment programme that has been specifically developed to measure the skills of international students in Mathematical Literacy, Reading and Writing. The ISA is taken by students in Grades 3 to 10. Students complete a Reading test, two Mathematical Literacy tests and two Writing tests. The tests include both multiple choice and open-ended tasks. ISHCMC’s ISA results are on par with other like schools around the world and the results show that our students are being very well prepared and are able to easily adapt and transfer to national or quality international schools providing ISA testing.
ISHCMC graduates continue to receive acceptances from high profile universities and colleges all over the world. ISHCMC IB Diploma graduates applying to North America, Europe and Asia generally received their acceptances in December, several months earlier than other students who are residents of those countries and prior to them taking their final exams. In addition, they are often given university credit hours for high level subjects where they have gained Credits of 5+
How will your child fit into the school?
When touring a school campus, take a look around and try and get a “feel” of the school. What does the student body look like? Is it truly an international school or are their just a few nationalities represented? How are new families welcomed? Are they introduced to other members of the school community and of their own national group or just left to meet people on their own? How are the students welcomed into the school?
At ISHCMC, we have nationality caps on each country so that our student body stays diverse and we remain truly an international school. Currently, we have 43 nationalities represented. New families are warmly welcomed at ISHCMC and are brought into the ISHCMC community through a number of different ways. New families are invited to PTO Newcomer Teas and are welcomed by both their PTO Cultural Representative from their country and the PTO Class Parent from their children's classes. New students are also given a “buddy” to help them learn about their new school. From the Admissions Department to our individual class teachers to our PTO, our goal is to make each new family feel welcome and to bring them into our ISHCM community as quickly as possible.
Our welcome programme has been specifically designed and is to ensure that new students feel safe, happy and identified and we are confident then that they will transition well into their new school and new environment.
How are the facilities of the school?
Are all facilities state-of-the-art and well maintained? Are the computer resources adequate and up-to-date?
ISHCMC has modernised their current facilities this year adding another brand new gymnasium, a 25 meter, solar heated, six lane swimming pool and a large outdoor pitch with an artificial grass playing surface imported from Italy, designed for multi-age, multi-sport activities. We have also added two brand new state of the art science labs and 12 new additional classrooms.
In addition, ISHCMC has rolled out their new Lenovo tablet programme. ISHCMC is now the only school in HCMC that has a 1 to 1 tablet programme in both Middle and High School. We also have a school policy to actively integrate technology into the curriculum wherever possible for all grade levels.