Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ISM is the most popular school. It’s the most impressive I have seen anywhere. They have a preschool there but it is very expensive. The embassy has a preschool for $500 a month. 5 days a week. 07:00-13:00. - Apr 2024

International schools are generally a strength of this post, although they were only virtual during my stay. - Mar 2023

Brent International School Subic is supposed to be great. Some cheaper local options as well. - May 2022

International School Manila, British School Manila, Brent, all great schools. My kids go to ISM. When we were physically in person the school was great and had a wide variety of activities, but we have yet to reopen (as of today, April 2021). Most families feel that school will not open in fall of 2021 and potentially for the entire school year next year as many local private schools have already announced that they will stay virtual next year. The government has not made any moves to encourage face-to-face learning even in areas where there has been no Covid transmission. Universities have only allowed later year medical students to be on campus. I am honestly concerned for the international schools as they are losing a tremendous amount of students and faculty. - Apr 2021

I've heard that the International Schools here are very good. In fact, many people said they came to Manila for the schools, but I don't have firsthand experience. - Oct 2020

K-12 at International School Manila. ISM has been great. My two sons that are graduates were well-prepared for college. My third did middle school and one year of HS and he is also well prepared to move on to anywhere. There is also a British school that is great. - Feb 2020

International School Manila is available, but enrollment does fill up for certain grades. My only experience has been elementary, which is great. There are several extracurricular activities and the students generally thrive. Other options include British School Manila, Brent, the Korean school, and local schools as well. - May 2018

Schools are a strength here. The International School of Manila (ISM) is the most popular choice for Embassy families, but there are plenty of other international schools to choose from: Brent School, British School Manila, Kings School, etc. We have had a great experience with ISM, but most of the families we know are happy with their school of choice. That said, nearly all kids face a long ride to school because of traffic, so your housing choice may influence your school choice (or vice versa). - Feb 2017

There are several excellent international schools in Manila. Most are in the Fort. - Jul 2016

Apparently the schools are great, but I wouldn't know. I've heard they're a draw to Manila for lots of families. - Jan 2016

Families report positive experiences with the schools (I have no personal experience with them). . .the schools are a big draw for a Manila posting. - Jan 2016

There are several good schools with provided transportation. My kids got to ISM, and it is great. - Jan 2016

Very good. Didn't use but most schools teach in English. - Sep 2015

There are plenty of schools here. Our kids (elementary and high school) attend the International School of Manila which is secular and pretty big so far as intl. schools go. We've loved the IB program. The administration is accessible and attentive, the teachers are awesome and the students tend towards friendly and driven. The majority of the kids are SE Asian and so the high school in particular is very focused on college admittance, but not in a way that's oppressive to the students. After school programs are great. ISM offers everything from tennis to circus skills; some cost a small fee but many are free. Brent is another school which is highly regarded, although there's a Christian curriculum. I've heard great things, but it's far away (about 30 minutes to an hour outside of Metro Manila). There are plenty of other schools around as well. With a little research, you'll find the right school for your kids. - Aug 2015

Lots of schools to choose from and most people can find what they are looking for and end up happy. The most popular school is ISM and the commute for most students is 30-45 minutes by bus. - Sep 2014

There are two primary schools that Embassy children attend, The International School of Manila (ISM) and Brent International School. ISM is the most preferred school within the Embassy community; however, Brent caters to learning support services for children. Both have great reputations. - Dec 2013

I understand both International School of Manila and Brent are highly regarded. ISM is in the Fort and can be inconvenient unless you live there. Brent is inconvenient regardless of where you live. - Nov 2013

I've heard great things but my daughter won't be old enough to attend school at this post. - Aug 2013

No kids, so no experience, but expat friends with kids seem to like the schools. - Sep 2012

Our child is adjusting to ISM -- it’s a big school and does have some discipline problems, but it also has strong social support for parents. - May 2012

There are a couple of international schools and people with kids seems pretty satisfied with them. Haven't heard any complaints. - Mar 2012

The two main ones are ISM and Brent, which have been pretty well covered here. We are happy with ISM. We chose it solely based on proximity to our housing. - May 2011

We do not have school-aged children, but notice that some generations of officers rave about ISM while other generations rave about Brent. ISM is close to Makati and the Fort, which makes it the easy choice for those who live there. Brent has the better academic reputation, and is somewhat closer for those living at Seafront or the Villages. As with most things in Manila, commutes can be long. - Feb 2010

My kids go to ISM.Good school, but took a bit of time for my kids to adjust at first. Their equivalent to kindergarten (ECLC) was more lenient and play based than Virginia school. However, 1st Grade picked up and I am perfectly happy and impressed by the school. Kids really learn to think outside of the box while learning traditional things too. Truly makes them global thinkers. Playground and afterschool activities are phenomenal. School promotes living a healthy and active lifestyle. PE, ART, Music and medical depts wonderful. I have liked the teachers although from other parents I hear communication can be improved. Most communication through e-mail or actually going to the school. Very close to most houses and condos. Bus needed improvements which they implemented this year so am very happy. Helps to keep eye on kids and be active in school. Will accept certain number of children who do not speak English yet and children with mild special needs although they do not accept children with what I would call moderate to severe special needs. I know kids who receive Speech or extra tutoring and children who are on the High Functioning Autistic Spectrum who go to the school and parents are happy with the services. Brent- I know kids that go here and both kids and parents are very happy. From what I hear it is a more traditional academic school, but kids that go to either Brent or ISM seem equally academically challenged (especially in older grades)and are happy and go on to do well in college. Commute is long 45-1hour. Makes it more difficult to visit school if child sick or for performances, sports etc. Most kids nap on bus. Mine get carsick so the school was not an option for us. Also Brent accepts more special needs children and has the ability and staff to support them. They also are more apt to bend on accepting kids at the cut-off dates of Grades. For example, I knew one family whose child already completed 1st grade in states. Came here and birthday was like Oct 5th or something and ISM wanted them to redo 1st grade. These people went to Brent because they allowed child to go to 2nd grade after testing them even though birthday cut-off was Sept. 30.British School- know expats that go here although none from U.S. Embassy. Mostly Australians and British and then other foreigners. Smaller school, across from ISM,less classes per grade level. People seem happy there too and say communication is good - Jan 2010

I don't yet have any kids, but I've heard both International School Manila and Brent International School are quite good, especially the high schools. I have heard that enrolling your children in school can be quite cumbersome, especially if there are special needs. - Jul 2009

ISM and Brent are the two schools that U.S. Embassy folks use. Don't have kids in them. From what I hear the elementary at ISM is disappointing but the high school is fabulous. Brent is a great school if your child has special needs but it is a long commute from most of the expat housing. - Apr 2009

British School Manila (BSM), International School Manila (ISM), Brent International School, Beacon School, Eurocampus (French and German schools) and Chinese International School Manila (CISM) are all popular options. BSM is particularly well-regarded for its primary school, but admission places are difficult to obtain unless your child is a UK or Commonwealth national. ISM is a more relaxed, American-style school with an excellent high school program for IB/AP students. Brent is located near Ayala Alabang and has a religious affiliation. A local international school, Beacon, has a number of expat students. CISM is a new school with a bilingual English-Mandarin international curriculum. It is extremely small at the moment (but growing) and the expat families I know with children there are very happy. My children have attended both ISM and BSM; we find that BSM is a better fit for us, as we prefer the high academic standards, discipline and family atmosphere. - Jun 2008

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