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The verdict: Is it worth enrolling your kids in one of Vienna’s international schools?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
The verdict: Is it worth enrolling your kids in one of Vienna’s international schools?
A public school in Vienna, Austria.(Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

For many immigrant parents, moving to a new country like Austria is a complex process, and navigating a different school system makes international schools even more attractive. But they come at a price, so are they worth it? Here's what The Local readers had to say.

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wInternational schools have the advantage of being standardised worldwide, ensuring that a child who will only spend a few years in that country will receive an education that will allow them to continue studying elsewhere later. 

Many parents also see these schools as an excellent way for their children to speak English in a German-speaking country.

For E. Freeman, who comes from the United States but lives in Vienna, the international schools give the kids a chance to "interact with other children in English", which is their mother tongue.

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On the other hand, Freeman noted a downside: "It is almost impossible for the children to obtain German proficiency". Because of that, they suggested that parents consider making school-age friends outside of the international school as well.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

It may also seem more straightforward and comfortable to sign up for a school where you won’t have to worry about understanding the principal or that has the same values as you plainly stated on their websites. 

For Suvie Kaul, from India, this was an essential factor in choosing an international school. "We move every few years and want to give our kids a chance to study in a system that is familiar", she said.

There are undoubtedly many advantages to enrolling in an international school, but they come with a hefty price tag, especially compared to Austria’s public school system.

Besides one-off or biannual fees – for everything from school trips to lunches and admission fees)  tuition fees at some of these schools can set parents back from €10,000 to €25,000 yearly. And while for some parents, the environment is diverse, others disagree: "Many rich kids around means children can develop a shallow material outlook to life", Kaul said.

READ ALSO: Ten things you will notice as a parent with a child at school in Austria

Jamilla Crops, from the Netherlands, said that kids in international schools meet fewer Austrians and, instead, have too many English friends - she chose to put her kids in the Austrian public school system. But for David, from the UK, the international school promotes a "good international mix".

'Global citizens'

For many parents, the curricula and the diversity were the main advantages of an international school. Janet Gruber, who comes from the UK and enrolled hers in an international school, said: "The curriculum is relevant and produces young people who are global citizens. The students are educated alongside others from all over the world".

Alexandra Cosentino, from the US, highlighted that her son, who went to an international school for a couple of years, has "the broadest world view and a place to stay (with his alumni) any place in the world". 

Many harshly criticised the Austrian public school system. Cosentino said: "Austrian schools tend to overlook the fact that every child is different and they are treated more in a "herd mentality" way."

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READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get free vouchers to learn German in Vienna

Jo, who also comes from the United States, said: "The international school my kids go to teaches them to think for themselves and not just memorise everything to spit back out on tests. 

We know the Austrian school system well, too and feel so "relieved" as parents since our kids moved to an international school. The kids are academically challenged, are taught to be independent thinkers, and they really enjoy going to school."

Jim Aladin, from Sweden, also highlighted that the facility and resources are of "higher quality" but added that they come at a high cost. 

Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP

'Super elitist'

On the other hand, some parents who have their kids enrolled in international schools criticised how elitist the environment can be.

Marta, who is originally from Italy, said there were many downsides to international schools - which is why they removed their kids from them.

She cited: "classism, pushing of religious agendas, mediocre teaching quality, lack of integration for special needs, white saviorism pushed in social sciences, terrible STEM teaching, exorbitant prices compared to what is provided."

READ ALSO: Reader question: Will my children get an Austrian passport if born in Austria?

Ivana, who also comes from Italy, said that, despite these schools' safety, there is a "distorted sense of reality and material values". Additionally, German classes were not effective, she noted.

Even parents who are more than happy with the schools agree with at least one downside: the distance to home. Since there are few options in Vienna, it's common for kids to have to travel far to get to their classes. 

 

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