Education and Schools in Philadelphia
Education in Philadelphia is taken seriously, and the city has a number of both public and private schools that are nationally recognised for the quality of their education, from elementary schools to universities.
Public schools in Philadelphia
Expat children in the US are able to attend public school free of charge. As is the case with most large cities, the quality of public schools in Philadelphia varies. Since they are funded by property tax, schools in more affluent areas tend to offer a better standard of education. By law, children are entitled to attend public school in their area, a fact that parents should bear in mind when choosing where to live in the city.
Magnet schools are specialised public schools that focus on certain subject areas – for example, science, languages or the performing arts – or employ alternative teaching styles, such as Montessori. Attendance at these schools is not limited by zoning, with the result that the student bodies of magnet schools are generally diverse and varied. If there is not enough space for all of the students who apply, they are selected by way of a lottery.
Charter schools are privately run but are funded by a performance-based contract with the government. As a result, they are tuition-free but are able to have more control over their academic programmes.
Expat children can apply for admission to charter schools, with preference given to children who live in the area around a school. Again, if there are too many applications for the school to admit everyone, admission is determined by a lottery.
Private schools in Philadelphia
As is usually the case, private schools in Philadelphia have better student-to-teacher ratios, advanced facilities and a wider selection of extra-curricular activities than their public counterparts. Of course, this comes at a price which expat parents should be prepared for.
It almost goes without saying that the best private schools in Philadelphia are also the most selective, and that there is a high level of competition around admissions. Parents should apply early and carefully check the admissions process for each school they are considering.
International schools in Philadelphia
While the only strictly "international" school in the city is the bilingual French International School of Philadelphia, there are a number of public schools that do offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Alternatively, Pennsylvania's neighbouring state of New York has a larger variety of international schools.