Moscow's international schools are growing in size (as well as numbers) and now often operate on several campuses. There are also numerous kindergartens, catering to expats.
The most obvious schools that appeal to the needs of the native English-speaking community in Moscow are the well established Anglo-American School (AAS), the British International School (BIS), the English International School (EIS)and the International School of Moscow (ISM). There are some nation-specific schools such as the Swedish, Korean, French and German schools which cater for speakers of their own nationalities. Newer kids on the block include the Cambridge International School and the STEM focussed English School of Science and Technology.
Anglo-American School (AAS)
AAS has settled very nicely indeed into its own purpose-built campus and seems to go from strength to strength,with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a drama theatre, offering the great facilities and is heavily over-subscribed. More of an American school in terms of curriculum, organisation and culture, it offers Kindergarten to Grade 12.
The Elementary School follows the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) Primary Years Program (PYP) for students aged 3 to 11. Middle school has chosen not to follow the IB MiddleYears Programme. Instead, the school has customised its own syllabus with inputs from British, American and Canadian syllabi, in accordance with the school’s sponsors - the British, American and Canadian embassies.
Much attention is paid to communication between parents and staff and weekly newsletters are sent out by e-mail as well as a monthly newsletter. Parents can also be involved with the school as substitute teachers.
British International School (BIS)
The British International School from Kindergarten to Year 13 follows the National Curriculum with IGCSEs taken in Years 10 and 11. At Year 12 and 13, either A levels or IB are offered, though most students opt for IB. The several campuses of the British International School family are restricted as they are situated in former Russian school buildings on generally small sites, with the exception of the Rosinka campus.
The British International School has several locations depending on whether the school is primary or secondary or Russian or English National Curriculum. IB is offered only at the Southern Campus. There is a PTA but parent involvement is regulated. The administration and parent communication is not as organised as would usually be expected from a British school and there is a limited feeling of school life culture with few school trips.
English International School (EIS)
EIS follows the English National Curriculum and is located on three campuses. The school provides education from ages 3 to 18 (IGCSEs at age 16 and A-Levels). There is a good sense of parent involvement and a friendly family feeling throughout the school overall. Events such as Russia Culture Week are organised in addition to a popular summer school programme.
International School of Moscow (ISM)
The school has one of the larger proportions of native English speakers in their classes, with a certain degree of English language proficiency required for acceptance in addition to academic testing before acceptance for certain years/ages. One of the global Nord Anglia Education group's schools.
Special Education Needs
Unfortunately Russia overall isn’t as well set up for special education needs as in other countries, lagging well behind the UK or US. Language is also a problem and, as the international schools are reasonably small, they are only set up to a certain extent for SEN. Parents with SEN children should seriously do their homework before committing to moving to Moscow.
Entertainment of Small (and Large) Children
It is worthwhile taking entertainment and after-school activities into account as well. A child who is used to a house and garden may end up living in a high-rise apartment block. In this case, you will need to ask what sports and extra-curricular activities are provided year round by your child’s school as these become crucial in terms of diversion and boredom distractors. Although there are many sporting activities offered in Moscow, most expats don’t speak the language and therefore won’t be able to interface with trainers and sports club administrators in order to take advantage of their services. Thus it is crucial that your child have his or her fill of activities and sports while at school, otherwise you will end up with a bored child exhausted from spending too much time in a car.
Increasingly, your choice of school will depend on where you live as children are spending more and more time commuting and the traffic situation is getting worse by the month. You must ask yourself how long you wish your child to spend in a car in traffic jams when you consider where you are going to live. And the traffic in Moscow is terrible. Multiple lanes of traffic can become so encamped, with no exit or end in sight, that it is not unusual to see trucks and cars taking to the pavements - and alarmed pedestrians scuttling out of the way as this irregular new traffic lane develops! The GSGI editor (another Harriet) saw traffic sit so long one day in downtown Moscow that an entire tourist coach had time to send an emmissary into a traffic island kiosk to procure beer for everyone on board.
AAS is adjacent to the Pokrovsky Hills compound. Rosinka is another gated compound about half an hour or more from AAS and closer to BIS, but which is served by a dedicated school bus. EIS is the only school easily reachable by Metro. School buses are provided by all the schools at extra cost. You are strongly advised to visit the schools to see which suits you better before selecting where you live. It would also be a very good idea to do dummy school runs during weekdays at pick up and drop off times to test how long it takes to get to the school. You don’t want your child coming home after two hours in the car, still having to face homework.
The Moscow Youth Soccer League runs an annual nine week football league on Saturday mornings from late August to October, open to expat boys and girls aged 5-18 for a small fee. The season’s opening is announced in The Moscow Times. It is a useful way to meet children and parents from other schools.
A Saturday morning basketball league is held at AAS and open to all children for a fee, from late November through to January/Feb with a break for Christmas. Finally, a very popular baseball league open to all children is held at the AAS on Saturday mornings. In all cases, contact the school for further information.
- The Children in Moscow - online guide.
- The British Women’s Club (BWC) runs a Family Network group for children (ages 0-12+) of members who should be either British passport holders or spouses of British passport holders. They hold regular meetings and activities throughout the year for BWC members and their families, a weekly Toddler Swimming group (ages 0-5+), and a monthly Saturday Club for the 6-12+ group; members can contact each other using the FN contact list. Website: www.bwcmoscow.co.uk, email: [email protected].