In spite of being located at almost the absolute tip of the African continent, Cape Town is anything but an isolated place. On the contrary, it is regarded as one of the best cities to live in by people from all around the globe. Its relaxed lifestyle, natural beauty, historic culture and mild climate make it an ideal destination for expats of all ages, including families. Children moving to this South African coastal city will find their lives relatively free of the drastic adjustments they may have to make if their families moved elsewhere. As long as they speak English, they will be easily understood by everyone, and will be able to integrate themselves into local society without too much difficulty. Moreover, there is plenty for children to see, do and explore in Cape Town all year round.As an expat parent, education is probably one of your biggest concerns, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping up your child’s future. Fortunately, Cape Town is home to a number of public, private and international schools. Some of these are coeducational, whereas others are just for boys or girls. As in most other nations, the quality of education in the state-run institutes varies tremendously. However, teaching standards are generally high in international schools, as staff members are well experienced in interacting with and educating a wide variety of international students. Many teachers in Cape Town are specially trained in delivering the core curriculum of countries such as the US and UK. You will also find schools that offer the International (Swiss) Baccalaureate (known as the IB), German Abitur, and French Baccalaureate curricula. The transferability of such curriculum makes further relocation easier for expats, ensuring continuity in education.
In general, international schools in Cape Town cater to primary and secondary students. Some have preschool and kindergarten facilities in-house or have collaborations with approved pre-primary learning centers. The environment in these schools tends to be multicultural, as a majority of the cohort will be from diverse backgrounds. This means your children will get the opportunity to learn alongside classmates who could be from many different nations, and depending on the institute you choose, they may also be encouraged to communicate in a foreign language or their own mother tongue in addition to the language of instruction.
Studying in an international school is therefore a good option for many expat children. Given below are details about some of the most popular and reputed such institutes in Cape Town.
American International School of Cape Town
42, Soetvlei Avenue, Constantia 7806, Cape Town
Tel: +27 21 713 2220
This private, non-profit, coeducational institution has more than 500 pupils coming from more than 60 countries, and a staff base that represents at least nine different nationalities. The American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) has been divided into four sections: an early childhood development center (up to kindergarten 1), an elementary school (from kindergarten 2 to grade 5), a middle school (from grade 6 to grade 8) and a high school (from grade 9 to grade 12). An American syllabus is followed in all sections, and from grade 1, students are taught languages such as Spanish and French. The school also offers advance placement classes, and on graduation, pupils receive an American high school diploma, which allows them the opportunity to enter some of the best universities all across the US, Canada, Europe and South Africa.
AISCT has the endorsement of the Western Cape Department of Education as an independent school, accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and membership of both the International School Foundation and the Association of International Schools in Africa.
You can download their application form or read more about AISCT’s vision, mission, value statement, infrastructure, admission policy, and fee structure by visiting their website.
Bishop’s Diocesan College
Campground Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700
Tel: +27 21 659 1000
An independent, all-boys’ school with a long history of strong academic performance, Bishop’s boasts of a strong commitment to well-roundedness in its students, with a longstanding tradition of striving for excellence in all the key areas of educational practice, including academic, sporting, cultural, pastoral and spiritual activities.
It comprises a pre-preparatory school, a preparatory school and a college. While the curriculum is not international, the institute has more than 1,350 pupils and 110 staff members from all over the globe. In spite of being a large school, Bishop’s operates in small units, so that all each child gets the attention they require. The teaching methods adopted are highly innovative, making extensive use of information technology. As the name suggests, Bishop’s is a faith-based school in the Anglican tradition, and offers a dynamic curriculum.
Blouberg International School
74, Ringwood Dr, Parklands, Cape Town 7441
Tel: +27 21 557 9071
The only coeducational international school located on the West Coast, Blouberg is set against the vivid backdrop of the highly impressive Table Mountain. This institute offers the British national curriculum, which is known as the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), and has international benchmarks that have been set by Cambridge University to help students achieve international standards of excellence. The syllabus has been organized into block years, known as “key stages”. Learning areas are carefully assessed at each stage before the child is moved on to the next, and graduates leave prepared for further education in colleges and universities all over the world.
Deutsche Internationale Schule Kapstadt (DSK)
28 Bay View, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town 8001
Tel: +27 21 480 3830
Website: http://dsk.co.za/?lang=en (In English)
Also known as the German International School, this bilingual coeducational institute is divided into primary, middle and high schools. It offers South African and European university entrance qualifications, and its students are exposed to a highly European, cosmopolitan environment where students are taught by German as well as local teachers. A feature unique to this academic institute is that all learners obtain one of these two double qualifications:
– The South African qualification, called National Senior Certificate (NSC) along with the German Language Diploma at B2/C1 level
– A combined qualification of the German Abitur and the NSC
Keeping in line with the current trends, DSK has adopted diverse teaching methods and modern facilities in order to cater to learners of all types, and places its focus on academics, music, sports, and other extracurricular activities.
El Shaddai Christian School
6 Langeberg Road, Durbanville, Cape Town 7550
Tel: +27 21 975 1980
El Shaddai Christian School is an independent coeducational institute located in the rolling hills of Durbanville. It is committed to academic excellence as well as what it describes as Biblical values and discipline. This school is divided into pre-primary, primary and high schools, and offers its students the Cambridge curriculum, preparing them for universities in the UK. Since the size of a class does not exceed 20, teachers are able to pay individual attention to each child. Learning at all levels takes place through structured and unstructured play.
Milnerton Rural, Cape Town 7441
Tel: +27 87 285 5837
A fairly new institute, the first Generation Schools campus became operational in January 2016 in Sunningdale. Since then, the school has been expanding at a rapid pace. The institute aims to provide an educational model that is based on the Montessori philosophy. Learners are divided into five phases, based on their age, and each child is encouraged to learn at their own pace, which helps them gain detailed, in-depth knowledge in their subject of interest. Students are introduced to the Cambridge curriculum when they are in primary and high school. Generation Schools offer a highly enriching environment, thanks to the strong focus on holistic development and respect for the individual growth of every learner.
Helderberg International School
Heritage Park, Hazelden Dr, Cape Town 7130
Tel: +27 21 851 6290
A part of International Education Systems (IES), an organization that has a large number of schools throughout the UK, mainland Europe, the US, and South Africa, the Helderberg International School offers its students the Cambridge curriculum. The institute aims to provide high-quality education that has been adapted to the needs of each individual student.
Hout Bay International School
Main Road, Hout Bay, Cape Town 7806
Tel: +27 21 791 7900
This coeducational institute is one of the few that offers its students the Cambridge and IB curricula. From the early years all the way to getting their IB diplomas, students are encouraged to excel in academics while they explore and gain awareness of the wider world. This school claims to be ‘proudly South African,’ while embodying an international mindset.
International School of Cape Town
Woodland Heights, 4 Edinburgh Close, Wynberg, Cape Town 7806
Tel: +27 21 761 6202
This private coeducational institute is governed by Christian principles and values. It offers an extended UK-based curriculum that leads students towards the internationally recognized qualifications of Cambridge University. This school states that its objective is to use the best teaching methods and to integrate technology into its classrooms in order to enhance learning among the students. E-learning is a regular feature at this institute. The involvement of parents in a student’s growth and development is also fairly high.
L’ecole Francaise du Cap
Kings Road, Sea Point, Cape Town 8060
Tel: +27 21 434 1278
Website: http://ecolefrancaiseducap.co.za/eng/ (in English)
In 1985, a group of French families who had settled in Cape Town felt the need for a local academic institution that followed the curriculum and teaching principles of their home country. As a result, they came together to found a school that reflected the values of the French education system. Today, about three decades later, L’ecole Francaise du Cap has become one of the most respected institutes across South Africa. In addition to preschool, primary, middle, and high school, its students can also undergo preparation for Cambridge exams.
Reddam House Durbanville (formerly known as Chesterhouse)
Mosselbank River Avenue, Durbanville, Cape Town 7550
Tel: +27 10 060 4236
After taking over the renowned Chesterhouse School in 2016, Reddam House opened its doors in January 2017, with the aim of creating the most outstanding educational institution in the city following the British curriculum. Currently, students from the Early Learning Years to Grade 12 are a part of the same campus, but this set-up is likely to change in the near future.
The schools listed above are just some of the most popular international institutes in Cape Town. As an expat parent, you may also want to explore private schools that have adopted global curricula and teaching methods. Some of the other renowned academic entities in this city include:
– Abbotts College
– Auburn House Montessori School
– Cedar House High School
– Chameleons Montessori School
– Constantia Waldorf School
– Curro Private School
– Herschel Girls’ School
– Herzlia Schools
– South African College School
– Springfield Convent School (for girls only)
– St. Cyprian’s School
– St. George’s Grammar School
– St. Joseph’s Marist College
– Star College
It is important to shortlist several schools and gather all the information you can about them before you decide on one for your children. If possible, you should of course also visit the campus of the school personally, in order to observe the learning environment and meet the principal and teachers yourself.
Studying in an international school is bound to come at a higher cost, since the quality of education is higher and these institutes also tend to have better infrastructure and amenities when compared to public and private schools. Depending on the location, the set-up and the student’s age, you could end up paying anywhere between South African Rand 25,000 (US $1,900; £1,427; €1,625) and South African Rand 80,000 (US $6,100; £4,567; €5,197). This amount only covers the basic tuition fees; parents are generally asked to pay extra for books, stationary, uniforms, transport and extracurricular activities. Do keep in mind that most international schools also charge a one-time registration fee when they admit a new student.
Before you decide to move to Cape Town with your children, do make sure that you have not only their visas but also their study permits in place, as they are not likely to get admission to any school without them. The procedure to obtain the visa can take up to six months, so it is best to put in an application as early as possible. Apart from distance learning at international institutions, this regulation applies to all schools, colleges, and universities across Cape Town.