The most common topic I get from families making the move to Bali is schools.

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.

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.

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.

Apart from attending international school there are 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. It is a myth the more you pay the better the education.

Whilst living in Bali I volunteered at my children’s school and was the P&F President.  The highlight was starting a new fundraising campaign for the Bali Children Foundation. BCF is a charity that started in 2002 who helps thousands of children to complete school, to find employment, and to improve their lives and the life of their community. We still continue to sponsor a lovely boy who lives in North Bali and get 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. Each school has their own vibe and very unique school community with opportunities to meet different families from around the world. Some schools also have public and closed Facebook groups and even relocation support and advice.

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.

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 probably could add on at least 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 for school enrolments. Some schools may be less restricted but generally students studying in Bali should have student visa. For example, the whole family first started on a social visa and then my children had to be on a student KITAS visa which cost approx. $800 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 like a local 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.

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.

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 for the two years and I had fun learning alongside them too. It was great to be able to practice it everyday when we chatted to the friendly Balinese. 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.  

After two years they came back to Australia to a new 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 FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) Facebook group which support home schooling.

I understand home schooling is not for everyone but it could be a 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 on 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. However the school day is finished by 10am! Every state has a different online set up and you need to check prior to leaving the 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:

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 and help to create that short list.

Choosing a good school where you live is hard enough but looking at options overseas is super tough and to make it harder there is very little information available online 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.

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