School Subjects That Prepare Kids For Real Life

These classes in international schools give students an introductory glimpse into the working world.

Photos: Garden International School

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" It’s a clichéd but relevant question to ask a student in secondary school. And it’s always refreshing when the response is more than just an unenthusiastic shrug or a blank expression. 

Conversations about the ‘real’ working world can be tough for kids who haven’t decided where their vocational interests lie. Some find it hard to internalise the fact that acing an exam isn’t actually a paid occupation in the future (not legally, anyway). So theory aside, school is an ideal place for kids to earmark their potential area of interest early. 

Thanks to a wide range of international school subjects that prepare students for various industries, this is an easier feat to accomplish than it was years ago. We look at just a few of the many exciting subjects on offer. 

Photo: Tenby Schools Miri/Facebook

Personal, Social, Health and Economics Education (PSHE) 
Personal, Social, Health and Economics Education is a holistic programme in primary and secondary school. Its three core themes are health, relationships and life in the wider world.

The latter theme covers economics, careers, education, and other accessible lessons that somewhat demystify working life for students. Among its many evidence-backed benefits, PSHE is known to boost employability, social mobility and even academic achievement. 

Tenby International Schools across the country teach topics like interpersonal skills, personal health and hygiene, current events, social issues and more through PSHE lessons.

At the British International School of Kuala Lumpur, students have to participate in various activities as part of their PSHE subjects, including a number of charity initiatives. 

Photo: Alice Smith School

Design Technology 
At Alice Smith School, Design Technology (an English National Curriculum subject) is meant to introduce students to the product design industry. The subject covers wood and metal applications, fashion and textile design, graphic design, and systems engineering.

According to David Potts, Vice Principal of Learning and Teaching (Secondary Campus) at Alice Smith School, the students get to work with leading companies, getting a first-hand look at current production technologies.

Tenby International School Miri’s Secondary School Coordinator Martin Shelley says Tenby’s Design Technology subject (compulsory for Years 7 to 9 and optional for IGCSE and A-Levels) involves using various software and tools for student projects, 3D printers and laser cutters included. 

Garden International School’s Design and Technology team has a professional resident designer who works with the students in a spacious design faculty equipped with industry-grade machinery and other tools. 

Photo: Marlborough College Malaysia/Facebook

Computer Studies And Business 
The Senior School Computer Science department at Marlborough College Malaysia offers comprehensive programmes covering mobile apps development, robotics and other technologies that shape society today.

Computer Science is a core IGCSE subject in Year 9 that covers website design, computer programme development and the environmental impact of technology.

In Years 10 and 11, students take the Edexcel GCSE Computer Science Course, or choose an in-depth Computer Science course at IB programme level later on. 

Nexus International School offers IGCSE subjects in Business Studies, which introduces business organisations, regulations in public and private sectors, how to finance a business and more. Economics as a subject looks at basic theories and terminology as well as data analysis. 

Helpful online resources like the St Joseph’s Institution International Malaysia’s IB Diploma Programme Handbook categorises various IB Diploma Programme subjects according to specific university specialisations and corresponding career options. 

Photo: Epsom College in Malaysia/Facebook

Art and Languages 
The Art Department at Epsom College in Malaysia is popular with students who aspire to pursue their tertiary education at prestigious arts colleges in the UK. The chance to explore the arts and other creative subjects is provided by co-curricular activity options. 

Art and Design is a Year 9 National Curriculum subject at the International School@ParkCity, providing a structured and comprehensive foundation in painting (oil, acrylic, pastel), charcoal, papier-mâché, mixed media, and digital manipulation. 

Competency in any academic or technical career starts with the ability to communicate proficiently, whether in English or other languages like Mandarin (via Epsom College’s Hanyu Shuping Kaoshi (HSK) certification) or French at the French School of Kuala Lumpur.

Tags: Features, International Schools, TIS, GIS, NISM, SJIIM, ECM, FSKL
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