It’s a primary concern when considering any overseas move. What are the schools like there? Will they have space for my kids? What are the costs? In Kenya, a expect a culturally diverse pupil body and an outdoorsy school experience for your kids with plenty of field sports and fun. Apologies if you already know all of this but this post is ‘by popular demand’ from readers who are thinking of moving here. Enjoy this (unofficial) good school guide.
Fees. (Costs per term. There are 3 terms per year).
- Kindergarten: expect to pay between 200,000 – 300,000 Kenya shillings per term (£1,600-2,400/$1,925-2,890) for ages 2-5. There is usually a sliding scale as your child gets older and attends more regularly, then you pay more. Younger children can opt to only attend for 3 mornings per week, moving toward a full day in reception year (age 5).
- Primary: Expect to pay between 450,000 – 550,000 Kenya shillings per term (£3,600-4,400/$4,330-$5,300) for years 2-8 (age 6-13). Again, a sliding scale on fees may be in place according to age.
- Secondary: Expect to pay 550,000 – 600,000 per term for secondary schools (£4,400-5,200/$5,300-5,775), years 9-13 (age 14-18)
Note: This fee guideline does not apply to the International School Kenya (ISK). Their fees slide up from $16,000 (for kindergarten) to $29,000 (for secondary) per year, plus a one off deposit for entry of $8,700 per pupil.
Facilities – What to expect.
- Facilities are generally good. Classrooms are arranged around sports fields in a very outdoor-centric environment. (wear sun cream daily January-March!)
- A cooked lunch and snacks are included in the termly school fees.
- Schools have well equipped IT centres, some have smart boards and many are moving toward kids working from ipads (from around 10 years of age). The onus is on parents to purchase school approved ipad models.
- Schools will be equipped with a swimming pool, sports fields, tennis courts and a couple have astro pitches, though sports are played mainly on grass.
- Indoor assembly hall.
Sports (this mainly applies to primary/prep schools)
- Sports are included in the school day, in addition ‘paid for’ extras are offered after or before school.
- British curriculum schools will offer sports such as PE, hockey, cricket, rugby, tennis, swimming, netball, rounders and some football (on termly rotation) as part of every school day, or at least 4 days per week.
- Teams are selected from each age group and matches fixtures against other schools during the school term. Some matches are played on home turf and others are away. Many parents go to watch the matches but schools also lay on transport for team members for ‘away’ matches. Occasionally matches take place outside Nairobi.
- (Note that not every age group is represented by a team. In Kenya teams are selected jointly from x2 academic years for U9, U11 and U13 squads – normally, A, B and C teams)
Extras and school trips
- After school extras might include: extra swimming and tennis lessons, music or art clubs, Tae Kwando, ballet, music lessons etc.
- In primary and secondary school, school trips are laid on both in Nairobi and further afield. Optional trips even take kids overseas (sports tours, ski trips, white water rafting, climbing Mount Kenya etc).
- Educational trips that form part of the curriculum are compulsory. Most carry an additional cost for parents to meet.
- There is no Saturday school but pupils are expected to participate in extra-curricular music concerts, sports matches and school trips upon invitation.
- Music lessons – general music education is provided as part of the school curriculum but learning individual instruments, singing lessons etc. Are provided by peripatetic staff who visit the school on particular days to give lessons, which is then a ‘paid for’ extra.
- Most schools have their own choirs, orchestra, bands etc. That your child may be asked to join.
- Activities that your child may want to pursue outside school are as follows: horse riding, dance etc.
When choosing a school – Consider the commute!
- Most school days begin at around 8am and finish at 3.45pm.
- Keep in mind: Traffic in Nairobi can be hellish, so the majority enroll their children in schools near their home or en route to work in order to reduce commuting time. (We did a 5.30/6am commute for years and it nearly killed us all).
- Some schools offer bus services from various neighbourhoods, either from a central meeting point or door-to-door but do consider how long your child will be sitting on the bus when making your choice.
Do look around a few schools in order to make an informed choice and get a feel for atmosphere.
Schools may ask you to pay a registration fee and then will ask for a non-refundable deposit once a place is confirmed. Deposits vary from around 50,000 to 100,000/-.
If your child is leaving school, remember to give at least 1 term’s notice or you may be expect to pay a full term’s fee as penalty.
*Remember that when you first approach schools in Kenya, they may say that they do not have space, but don’t give up hope. It is worth joining a waiting list as spaces often open up when other expat families move on (the biggest moves taking place in June/July but others are at random times during the school year).
Kenyan schools follow their own curriculum called the 8-4-4 system. Below I have focused on British and international curriculum schools.
There are quite a few small, homely, mama&papa style kindergartens and playgroups that operate independently. It’s worth looking around the area where you plan to live, searching Facebook etc. Children join kindergarten at any age between 18 months to 5 years. Please note that many of the primary schools listed in the following section also have well established kindergartens. Below is a list of kindergarten only:
- Stepping Stones – Karen area
- Kabete Kindergarten – Lower Kabete
- Montessori – Westlands, Karen and Lavington
- Kensington – Kileleshwa
- Lavington Kindergarten – Lavington
- Nairobi Waldorf schools – campuses in Karen and Kileleshwa (kindergarten & primary)
Primary /Prep/Junior School – Years 2-8 (ages 6-13):
There’s a good choice of British curriculum primary schools in Nairobi. They are not all listed here but below are the ones that are often chosen by expat families moving to Nairobi. If you would like more information on other schools, then contact me in the comments section.
- Kenton College – Kileleshwa (primary)
- The Banda School – Langata. (kindergarten, primary)
- Hillcrest School – Karen (kindergarten, primary, secondary)
- Peponi House – Lower Kabete (primary)
- Braeburn – Lavington (kindergarten, primary, secondary)
- Braeburn Garden Estate – Windsor (kindergarten, primary, secondary)
- Brookhouse School – Langata (kindergarten, primary, secondary)
- GEMS International School – Langata (kindergarten, primary, secondary)
- Rossyln Academy (Christian based) – Runda
- International School Kenya (ISK) – Kitisuru
- West Nairobi School (Christian based) – Karen
Secondary School – years 9-13 (ages 13-18):
- Peponi School – Ruaka (secondary only, boarding facilities)
- Hillcrest School – Karen (as above, boarding facilities)
- International School Kenya (kindergarten, primary, secondary)
- Braeburn – Lavington and Windsor (as above)
- Brookhouse School – Langata (boarding facilities)
- Woodland Star International school. (Age 6-14 years). Limuru.
- Nairobi Waldorf schools . (Age 3-14 years) campuses in Karen and Kileleshwa (kindergarten & primary)
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