Moving to London or already resident here? Many London and international families are opting for one of the excellent bilingual schools in our capital. This blog will focus on English/Arabic bi-lingual schools in London. Our thriving Arabic community take advantage of the excellent education available. However, many nationalities, who wish their children to have the advantage of a bi-lingual education, are seeking places for their offspring.
The King Fahad Academy
Located in Acton, the King Fahad Academy is an independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and the only Islamic school in the UK authorised to offer the IBO programmes.
With 35 different nationalities represented at the school, there is a unique opportunity to develop intercultural awareness and appreciation for the philosophies and way of life of people from different cultures.
The school is popular with both bi-lingual Arabic/English families relocating to London and also with Arabic families already living in the capital. Since 1985, it has educated the children of Arab diplomats, relocating Arabic- speaking families and the local Arab community in London. The Academy provides a bilingual international education with an Islamic ethos to students aged 3-19 years. There is a Girls’ School and a Boys’ Schools, combining to make a overall student body of 500 pupils.
The school’s unique approach to faith-based education combines the rigour and innovation of the IBO programmes with the ethos and values of the Islamic faith. They help cultivate in their students an open-minded attitude towards other cultures and beliefs – equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to appreciate and thrive in today’s increasingly globalised and multicultural world.
A new Arabic/English School to open in London
Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, the daughter of the former Emir of Qatar, intends to set up another school for London residents who want their children educated in Arabic and English.
It will be run by the Qatar Foundation, a non-profit-making organisation set up in 1995 to promote innovative education and learning. It is intended to provide places for 1,800 children from pre-school to sixth-form and will also be an International Baccalaureate (IB) school.
Watch this space!
For more information on bilingual schools in London, read our Blog on French schools. Please contact us for expert support with applications to both Bi-lingual and IB schools in London and throughout the UK.
For many relocating families, children start new schools, not just in September, but in the middle of the school year. Starting a new school can be scary- a bit like the first day in a new job for adults: the unfamiliar building, the new routine and lots of people who all seem super confident and in the know. But it is even more scary starting a new school in an unfamiliar country. You can help your child make the new start as smooth as possible with these easy tips:
- Visit the school with your child before he/she starts there. This can help take away the first day nerves
- Find out what compulsory items you need to buy before school starts- there may be a compulsory school uniform. If uniform is not compulsory, then your child will definitely need a PE kit. Some schools provide all stationary- others will require you to buy your own.
- Notice what the current pupils are wearing and carrying: Most kids don’t want to stand out from the crowd. For your older kids, especially, fitting in is vital. I speak from experience, having bought a small PE bag for my eldest daughter when all her peers were carrying huge tennis style PE bags.
- Ask what will be needed on their first day of school. It’s important to be prepared
- Make the journey to school a few times so you and your child know the route to and from school.
On that important first day
- Get the school bag ready the previous evening– this avoids a stressful scramble to get out of the door on time in the morning.
- Try to avoid being late. Your child will feel self- conscious being the new kid at school- being late will make them feel worse.
- Keep calm and provide as much support as you can- If your child is anxious, it’s hard for them to manage your anxiety as well. Tell them that you understand starting a new school is challenging- especially if they are starting in the middle of the school term.
- Don’t linger at the school gate With older children,- this is a definite ‘no’!
- Try to hook up with other parents Forming friendships with other parents yourself can really help both you and your child get to know the school culture and feel part of the local community.
The first few weeks of a new school will be emotional for both your child and yourself. There will be a lot of settling in, exploring new friendships, getting used to a new routine and if you have relocated, getting used to a new country as well. It’s important to ‘be there’ for your child and try not to intervene too much
Friendship is very important for children. Especially for expat and international children who have to learn to make new friends quickly.
See our five tips on helping your child to navigate the friendship maze:
- Encourage confidence
Making new friends can be hard when everyone else already has their own cliques or friendship groups. Encourage your child to approach new people positively- smiling and being open to different personalities and ideas.
- Joining in
Encourage your child to join school clubs and activities that he or she is interested in. Going to choir or French club will enable him or her to meet other kids with things in common.
- Detecting the cliques
Explain about the cliques and groups to your child- little children may find these hard to understand. Encourage your child to look for friendships outside existing cliques.
- Knock-backs are normal
Sometimes your child’s overtures may be rebuffed. It is important to reassure your child that this is normal- not everyone we want to be friends with wants to be friends with us. Inspire your child to be themselves and celebrate who are they are.
- Celebrate new friends
Encourage your child to enjoy his or her new friends- invite them for supper, organise cinema trips and country walks.
Friendship is one of life’s great gifts and should be enjoyed to the full. You can reassure your child that expat and international kids who move frequently, often develop a great talent for making friends easily. This is a valuable skill which will serve them well throughout their life.
Choosing a school in London can be daunting for expat and international families.
The best schools in London are over-subscribed and do not need to advertise for pupils. There are many, less renowned schools, which offer both an excellent education and a supportive environment to help your child to develop his or her full potential. For those London parents in the know, these schools offer an excellent education.
Which is the best London district to live in?
If you are relocating to London, there will be many priorities for you to consider. One of the first decisions you will make is where you decide to live.
This will depend on your commute and your budget. Richmond and Kensington and Chelsea have high quality state and private schools, though the rents are high. North London has some super schools, so you may wish to consider Hampstead and the more affordable Muswell Hill.
State, independent or international school? Which London option is best for your child?
There are many excellent schools in London, some “state” (this is what the English call free schools) and some “independent” (this is what the English call private or fee-paying schools). Depending on whether you want your child to be educated in the British, American, French or German education system, the capital has schools which cater well for all of these including the renowned Lycée Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington and the American School of London in St John’s Wood. State schools require that you already be resident in London before applying for a place. See our next question for more information on this.
How do I navigate the London schools’ application and admissions process?
You cannot apply for a place at a state school unless you already reside in London. However, you can certainly start preparations for finding a place. The most important thing you need to know is which London borough you will live in as school admissions are handled by each borough. Please see the latest results of London primary schools grouped by London borough. Once you have decided on a borough, you can telephone the Schools Admissions Team in the London borough of your choice, to enquire about places. We also provide a Schools Advice Service to help parents from abroad find the right school place for their child. Some international schools and independent (private schools) are more likely to have vacancies in the middle of the school year. Contact us for more information on this.
Moving to a new city can be stressful. However, making preparation to ensure that all the family are happily settled will help you and your children to enjoy your time in the vibrant and cultural city that is London.
One thing that girls’ schools can really excel in is understanding girls – what makes them tick, how they study best, what motivates them and more importantly, the huge challenges which they face in the modern world. Headmistress of Francis Holland, Mrs Lucy Elphinstone, is very aware of the issues surrounding girls in the 21st century: she makes sure that all girls learn computer programming and emphasises the need for all girls to be adaptable and able to reinvent themselves.
Whilst not traditionally seen as an academic school, Francis Holland’s results are very good. Modern languages are well-taught, as are Latin and History. Science subjects are less popular amongst the girls. Every pupil is encouraged to take 5 AS Levels and to take 4 of these to A Level. Almost all the leavers go to university, and the career advice is excellent. The number of girls going to university in the US is increasing, Many also take arts courses at St Martins, the London College of Fashion or the Royal Ballet School.
Drama, dance and music are taken very seriously here. Drama teachers try to get all girls involved. The ballet teacher, Valerie Hitchen is an institution. She is well-loved and has established great links with the Royal Ballet School. There are lots of choirs and most girls learn at least one instrument. There is central school courtyard where some of the PE takes place, but mostly girls go to local parks for riding and other sports.
Pastorally, the school is excellent. The girls are happy here and it shows. We hear very few complaints from girls who attend the school. The staff engage well with parents and they are encouraged to come to the school with any concerns they may have. The staff care about all the girls and encourage individual talents and aspirations. A very happy place indeed.