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FINDING THE BEST School in Bali 2021

FINDING THE BEST School in Bali 2021

Last updated May 2021
The most common topic I get from families making the move to Bali is schools, education options and how to choose the best school.

What are the schools like in Bali?

How can I afford these International school fees?

What are the best options?

Is it worth spending the money?

Will my children come back behind in their studies?

Will they be able to settle in?

Once you start googling ‘schools in Bali’ you might get a surprise at the cost of school fees and start to think if your Bali dream can still become a reality. Most international schools on the Island cost approx. $10,000-$30,000 AUD a year per student and if I can be very honest, it is not value for money.

You might discover there is even a French School in Bali that was established back in 1991 which is accredited by the French National Education ministry and under the supervision of the French Embassy in Indonesia.

International schools are also based on varying curriculums (i.e. British and Australian), follow different school calendars, have vastly different facilities, languages and sports.  Don’t be necessarily attracted to the nicest looking facilities (you still need to visit them in person as opposed to a nice looking website), there will be a Bali flavour to all schools and each will have their own pros and cons.

Apart from following a school calendar there are also many other local holidays and religious days that are taken off. Bali is full of ceremonies and festivals throughout the year. We were surprised at how many days the school was closed due to these special cultural days. Most schools start early in the morning between 7:00am – 8am.

Some international schools such as Canggu Community School, Australian Independent School and Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School offer high schoolers the opportunity to do International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes. This may be a great opportunity as it is not as mainstream in Australia and may suit your child. Click here to understand more about International Baccalaureate education. You can also consider International Schools online.

Apart from attending international school there are many other options as well. These can be some smaller schools, home schooling (distance education/virtual school), home-based schools, and tutoring.

I have personally visited many schools, I have watched my children play on their sport facilities and we have met lots of different families that attend all of them, some happy and some not.

So as you can see, there is a lot to consider and I can give you honest advice and feedback. For instance, I can truthfully say the international price tag doesn’t give you the quality you expect in return. Unfortunately the more you pay the better the education and facilities doesnt apply.

Whilst living in Bali I volunteered at my children’s school and was the Parents & Friends President.  The highlight of the position was starting a new fundraising campaign for the Bali Children Foundation. BCF is a charity that started in 2002 to help thousands of children to complete school, find employment, and to improve their lives and the life of their community. We still continue to sponsor a lovely boy who lives in the city of Tigawasa, North Bali and we get emailed his school reports and letters twice a year.

By law every school needs to employ local teachers so you will find that most classes have a Balinese assistant teacher. These teachers have excellent English and are a great asset to the class. Often class numbers are not large. In fact, both my children’s classes had no more than 14 children.

Due to the nature of being in an expat school, there will always be the element of a transient school community. Homework and deadlines can be a bit more relaxed considering families can be coming and going or simply have a few days away. Some schools dont have homework at all. Each school has their own unique community feel with opportunities to meet different families from around the world. Green School for example has a specific set up for parents to stay at the school and work online. Some schools also have public and closed Facebook groups and even relocation support and advice. Not only are you enjoying the global community of families but each school has a great make up of teachers from around the world. For example Green School promote having teachers from 15 different nationalities.

In most cases, I would advise choosing your school first then look at where you should live. The logistics of driving to school in Bali traffic is something you need to consider as you don’t want to spend most of you day commuting. However, this is just a fact and the reality is there will always be Bali traffic and it will take some time commuting everyday. Some schools offer schools buses and parents organise car pools as well.

Unfortunately you will not get an accurate indication when you Google the directions, distance and time it takes from your home to school. You need to drive the route and depending on the day you it could be another 20 mins or more. Everyday is unpredictable, there could be a Balinese ceremony (very common!) so the road is blocked off, floods, potholes and no reason but traffic! That is where a lot of people prefer riding a bike to a car to avoid extra congestion. Not always the ideal solution when commuting more than one child to school.

You should also check the visa requirements when doing your school enrolments. Some schools may be less restricted but generally students studying in Bali should have student KITAS visa. For example, the whole family first started each on a social visa and then my children had to be on a student KITAS visa which cost approx. $1,000 per child. This was organised through the school’s visa agent and allowed them to stay in the country for one year without leaving. This visa treats them basically like an Indonesian citizen and they receive certain discounts at places like attractions and accomodation. They can even can go in the local passport holder line at the airport if entering back to Bali. Often there will be two prices advertised tourists and KITAS/local residents. As as 2021, the social visa has been currently replaced with the Business Visa 211 but there are other options for expats like the Investment KITAS, Family KITAS and Working KITAS.

ProEducation and Australian Independent School are schools that cater for students with special needs. For example, ProEducation run a ‘Towards Independence’ program for 5-19 yr olds that is a highly targeted educational framework for students with special needs.

I personally think you need to be realistic – you are not going to Bali for the incredible school education but for all the other life changing experiences that living back at home cannot buy.

My children learnt Bahasa Indonesia twice a week for the two years and I had fun learning alongside them too. I personally got a tutor to come to my villa for a couple of terms. It was great to be able to practice it everyday when we chatted to the friendly Balinese, some staff and go to warungs and markets. They went on two school camps to other areas of Bali and participated in a variety of different activities and sports. They also had some extra maths tutoring for about 6 months and swimming lessons from a great swim teacher once a week in our villa pool.  

After two years they came back to Australia to a private school and home was in a new Australian state. They weren’t behind academically and my daughter adjusted back to school life straight away and my son took the first term. You will be surprised at how flexible and adjusted children are.

Throughout our years in Bali it has been great to meet home schoolers, world schoolers and even unschoolers!

If you are interested in home schooling but nervous about the social aspect you can connect with the Bali home school community on Facebook and there is also a HomeSchooling Bali Facebook group which support home schooling. One example of a home school in Bali is the Bamboo Garden Home School. There are quite a few lovely family-based home schools that are popping up and they have waitlists because of the small numbers they can hold. They are usually for up to 12 years of age. These little schools are often inspired by alternative curriculums and philosophies around the world, including Reggio Emilia, unschooling and worldschooling. Other example of home-based schools include Bali Riverside Homeschool which is a small private study group for children of upper primary and lower secondary school ageInternational standard of education taught by an experienced teacher with core subjects based on the Cambridge International Programme. It may be the case where you get a great tutor to have on your own or you share with similar age children.

With COVID effecting the way we learn and school closures, I can now comfortably say we have all experienced home schooling to some degree. I understand home schooling is not for everyone but it could be an interesting option if you are looking at moving to Bali for 6-12 months.That way you don’t need to choose a school and live reasonably close by. There is a lot more flexibility and you can set your own schedule. You can find activities for your children to be social after their condensed school day has finished.

You may have to consider time zones for when their lessons would be delivered, for example, if using distance education (virtual schooling) in Australia, your children may have to start online at 6am Bali time. However the school day is finished by 10am! Every Australian state has a different online set up and you need to check prior to leaving for Bali the different enrolment details and criteria.

Have a read of these families who have two children that love distance education via Brisbane and Canada.

This list covers the majority of schools in Bali (some still have a hybrid model and different rules around COVID restrictions):

Primary and/or High school

International childcare and preschool

The best scenario would be to have a short list of schools and visit Bali prior to making your move. If this is something you are able to do, then please contact me and I can give you the confidence to help to create that short list.

Choosing a good school overseas is super tough, the website is all you have to judge in most cases so that is why I put this article together.

I understand that everyones child is different and everyones needs and circumstances vary. So that is why I suggest getting in touch to talk things through further and see if I can help in any way.

I love helping families with preschool children right through to high schoolers so please feel free to reach out and ask about how I can help with my consultation service.

Comments

  • September 2, 2020

    Hi there, thanks for linking to our worldschooling post. We did just that for seven years. Now lockdown is not allowing us to walk our chosen walk. I thought I’d just mention online international schools. That’s what my boys are doing now because we’re stuck at home. It would be very possible to do that from Bali and we’re finding it very good. My boys started at 15 and 14 after doing almost no formal schooling, ever. That’s what we’re doing with these long, boring, lockdown days. Wish we were in Bali!

    reply
  • Simone
    September 7, 2020

    Pleasure! Seven years! WOW. Thank you so much for sharing. I will definitely look into it. So something like K¹² International Academy would be an example?

    reply

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