Private school vs international school

I am a mother of an 11yo and 3yo and we are considering transferring to KL from the Philippines.

I want to know what's the difference between attending a private school and an international school aside from the price? Ü

How much would be the minimum income of a family with two kids for us to be able to live in KL and support the kids education? Thanks

Facilities, fees, curriculum, languages, teachers qualification and nationality, classmates nationality, parents connection, extra curricular activities, learning trip location, canteen food, pastoral care, EAL support, etc... These are the differences.

And SEN support.

In short, everything is different.
Better in an international school? Thank you

It depends. There was a twin who wanted to concentrate on golf practice and tournament, so their mum sent them to a local private exam prep school to prepare the UK iGCSE exams. They nailed it with great result at the age of 13. One of them had straight As in all subjects. It wouldn't hv happened if they studied in Intl school. There are many Intl schools in msia, many more are currently being built. Some may hv good facilities but are run like a company, profit comes first, education comes second. The real good ones are usually very expensive.
Intl schools generally won't allow grade skipping, they will try to differentiate works according to student ability in class, it may work for kids with slightly above average skill but wont be suitable for truly gifted ones. Anyway, choosing a right school can take a lot of effort. I would suggest you visit few local Intl and private schools first, find out what you like and dislike about them, then make decision. FYI, local msian tend to call both private school (a small learning centre) as homeschooling, the real home school as homeschool, sometimes both terms may refer to the learning centre. So be prepared when the locals tell you their kids are homeschooled, in actual fact they mean private school.

Good luck.

this information is useful, thanks for it. I am also considering find the right places for my kids to attend the school.

private schools utilise the local syllabus- KSSR  (for primary school) & KSSM (secondary school). in private schools they focus more on the children, thus lower teacher:student ratios. they also have occasional school trips to give the children better experience of this and that etc. they also have daily after-school activities to keep your children active. also, despite using the local syllabus they actually have a DLP (dual language programme) for certain subjects which are taught in either English or Bahasa melayu (mostly english).
international schools utilise overseas syllabus - Cambridge IGCSE, British national curriculum etc. (most commonly utilised here is the Cambridge IGCSE). everything else is the same as a private school. low student:teacher ratios (better focus on children), occasional school trips, daily after-school activities.... everything to keep your children active.
If you plan to send your children overseas then it's better to send them to an international school. if you want them to study here then it's better to send them to a private school. I'd recommend international school though, because you'll most probably be sending them to an international college/university.

good to get these professional ideas.
very useful, thanks!

Contrary to SmileyBlissey, private schools may use either local or intl curriculum. The reason why some don't call them intl school is bcos they don't hv the license to recruit intl students who need visa to stay in msia. Be it learning centre (small private school), intl school (big private school with great facilities and intl student demographic) or even home school (taught by parent at home), your child can still progress onto universities worldwide so long that he takes the right exam at the right age, and with the right grades. Sometimes academic qualification may not even be needed. Several years ago an Indian girl, who were homeschooled from the age of 12, was accepted by MIT without any high school qualification. She had passions on software development and won several intl competitions. Her difference, skills, inspiration and dream convinced MIT admissions team to grant her full scholarship.

thanks for the information.
one question, for International school mentioned a difference between private school and international school is it has no license to recruit international students who need a visa to study in Malaysia.

Does it mean,
if the parents are not helping a EP, or the family is not on the MM2H scheme yet, the kid will be possible to come to studying in the school, with the school's acceptance and support to get a studying visa then?

Msian hv an unusual way to define school which is contradictory to all dictionaries and the rest of the world.  They call schools according to the curriculums they use. Examples; a privately owned school that uses American homeschool curriculum will be called homeschool/homeschooling, a private school that uses Cambridge iGCSE curriculum will be called intl school, a true homeschool will either be called homeschool or simply not going to school, a private school that covers both local and intl curriculum is very tricky for them, so they will usually say the school name and the curriculum. So be prepared for the great confusion.

I am not the right person to answer visa questions. You will hv to check with the schools and your local msia embassy for details.

thanks anyway, for having shared such useful information!

Intriguing... Didn't think there were private/homeschool centres. I just recently relocated to Malaysia the past 2 years and have been sending my kids to TISKL. However, I recently got sent a really interesting proposal by a friend of ours who is setting up a hybrid homeschooling centre. Their kids aced their GCSE's at the age of 12 and are attempting their A-levels this year. Also, their structure is arranged in a way that if your kid doesn't score anything other than an "A or A*", there are no fees to be paid! Really got my attention but I'm quite unsure what to think of it...

The brain of young kid is very absorbent, so I am not surprised at all that 12yo can pass igcse and A level exams. My biggest concern is will the early completion of high school leave the kid in limbo? Imagine one finishes high school at 12, he is not eligible to enter college until around 17, what is he going to do? In addition, year(s) long drilling with past year papers is probably the best way to kill the interest of learning.

Which private schools do you recommend ? Or which home schooling system do you recommend please ?
Your info is very useful.
Thank you

What is really a good strategy in education?
There is a wonderful documentary  "Where to Invade Next" (2015) by Michael Moore where he visits Finland and shows a forward-looking education system which sees excessive homework as a hindrance to learning, and even abandons a system of multiple-choice questions. You can just watch an episode from this documentary on youtube: "Why Finland has the Best Education by Michael Moore".
This will give you an angle in your search for the best school for your children.

Parents are usually proud about their child’s high school graduation at much younger age than usual. Some parents whose children skipped grades admit that graduation at the early age is a mistake. There is a tendency currently in the US for children to start 1st grade one year later, because a child is more mature physiologically to withstand pressure of schooling and socializing.

Hi there,
Just to say - if you do decide that an international school would suit you better (which I would suggest it probably would) then feel free to PM me and I can suggest some different options in your budget. I work as an independent school consultant here and give advice to families at  no charge & with no obligation. I'm actually in the process of personally visiting all the major schools in the city! 9 visited so far - it is fascinating.


We are relocating to Cyberjaya in Dec 2019!
We are considering ELC International school in Cyberjaya.
It is close to the area that we wish to live in (Sejati residence or Symphony hills) and within our price range.

Have you visited this school, are there any considerations that you would like to share?


Hi Pam,

You have a few options in that area - this map might be interesting. If you've got younger children, King Henry VIII College in Cyberjaya, which opened in Sep 18, is offering hugely discounted fees until Year 2 (about 1/4 of the regular price). Great school and growing fast, worth a look.



Does anyone have any pros or cons about living in Cyberjaya.
We see beautiful gated communities within walking distance of the schools and think this is a great idea as it is also walking distance to work & we may not have a car immediately when we arrive.

Is there a good train network to the city centre?
Are there many expats in the area?
Has anyone used the 'Speed home' property agents who claim you don't need to pay deposits, etc?

Please advise.... quite daunting when you select an area and the school based on what you see on the net.


Hi Pam,

I'll drop you a PM - please check your messages.

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