An expats guide to the best schools in New York
One of the advantages of moving to New York with your family is that in many ways it will feel quite familiar. The lifestyle between the Big Apple and London, for example, is comparable. Both cities are richly multicultural, share similar business ethics and, of course, there is no language barrier.
For expatriate children, education in New York can be an enriching experience, as well as offering a good opportunity to build relationships. There are a number of very highly regarded international schools, popular with expatriates from all over the world. Many have long waiting lists, so it pays to start the process of finding a suitable school place as soon as the relocation is confirmed.
New York is vast, stretching far beyond the city centre, with many popular residential areas for expats. Each area has its own collection of schools, so your options may be determined by your chosen neighbourhood.
Here we have put together a list of the top international schools in New York, grouped together by area.
New York City
BIS-NY is a popular all-through co-ed school, located right on the banks of the East River. Its close proximity to the urban centre makes it popular with those who live and work in the City.
It combines the best of both the International Baccalaureate and the English National Curriculum. Teaching methods can feel familiar if relocating from the UK or another international school. It focuses on eight key subjects throughout the middle school. In the upper school, A-Levels can be studied.
As well as high academic excellence, students at the school benefit from a vibrant sports programme and other varied extracurricular activities. The aim is to help students develop real-world, critical-thinking skills with enthusiasm and creativity.
Located next to The British International School of New York, and less than a mile from the UN headquarters. UNIS is an all-through, co-ed school that was established in 1947 by a group of UN parents. It aims to educate children to an exceptional international standard, while also preserving their diverse cultural heritage.
The school is guided by the key principles of the United Nations itself, through inclusivity and diversity. With over 1,600 students and 110 countries represented in the student body, this school is a good option if you wish to give your children a truly global educational experience. There are 9 languages offered by the school, and almost 100 different first languages are spoken by the students who attend.
There is, unsurprisingly, a high number of UN families who attend – around 50% of the intake. It is linked to the UN and offers unique opportunities to visit the UN and its leaders.
If you want your children to be fluent second-language speakers, the ISB offers one of the top language immersion programs, alongside the International Baccalaureate. Students from Pre-K 3 to 8th Grade are immersed in either French or Spanish to develop fluency.
It values creativity, innovation and intellectual risk taking, shaping future leaders and creators. There is a wide range of after-school and enrichment options to help develop well-rounded students.
It’s worth bearing in mind that as the program gives a bilingual education from 2nd Grade, anglophone students can only be accepted in the early years.
The Dwight School is one of the oldest independent schools in New York, with a history dating back to 1872. Its reputation is up there as one of the most desirable schools in New York for those seeking an international education.
It follows a rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum, and places a high emphasis on innovation. Its mission is to educate children into becoming future global leaders, with a personalised experience.
Dwight has an international presence, with schools in London, Seoul, Shanghai and Dubai. Its flagship, however, is the New York establishment, based in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Over in the East Village of Manhattan, is Nord Anglia. This coveted international educational offering treats students as individuals, giving everyone a chance to pursue their own passions and interests.
Through a Global Campus, students can meet and collaborate with students all over the world – up to 32,000 Nord Anglia Education students globally. It’s also the only private school in New York to offer the International Primary Curriculum. In the middle school, students study using both the English National Curriculum and the International Middle Years Curriculum, for a well-rounded but thorough education.
In the Chelsea area of Manhattan is Avenues, promising a ‘New School of Thought’. As well as academic excellence, students leave fluent in a second language, with confidence, critical thinking and leadership skills.
With over 1,750 students, this 15-grade school has grown in popularity since its opening in 2012. Even from nursery level, students are immersed in a new language (Mandarin or Spanish).
It has a global admissions policy; admission to one campus means admission to them all. There are further campuses in Brazil and China.
For further research on schools on New York for expats, see the International Schools Database or the Good Schools Guide. We have focused on international schools that are frequently used by expatriate families, however there are also American private schools and public schools in all residential areas.
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