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What’s happening in the 2018-2019 school year - for international schools

ISC Schools Director, Richard Gaskell shares his perspective on the current picture of the international schools market:


The international schools market started the new academic year in a very strong position, even in the locations that have faced challenges in recent years.

Since September, the market has reached 10,000 international schools around the world, enrolling over 5.3 million students and employing more than 500,000 teachers.  This academic year saw a record number of independent schools, mostly from the UK, opening sister schools in international locations, several of these were making their foray into the international market for the very first time. More are following suit with 19 new independent schools known to be opening foreign campuses between 2019 and 2020.

With the rise in demand for international education from an increasingly broad range of families, there remain some notable gaps in provision. Many international schools continue to be underequipped to respond to the needs of children with special education needs. Many international schools are lacking in their provision of services to support student wellbeing. And many international schools are under resourced for the careers and higher education counselling of students. ISC Research has published new market sector reports evaluating the practices of international schools for all these areas of school life this year. These reports are free to all schools and an excellent way to better understand the demands on international schools and approaches that some international schools are taking. The reports are available by contacting enquiries@iscresearch.com

Recruiting qualified teachers with the skills to deliver rigorous teaching and learning within an international, if not bilingual context, continues to be the challenge that’s on the lips of most international school leaders today. As the international schools market shifts to become more affordable and expands to become more competitive, so the challenge of hiring the best teachers increases. It also squeezes budgets for facilities and resources as salaries and benefits take a greater portion of the pot. New models to build professional capacity are beginning to emerge which is very encouraging. Schools are taking the lead, partnering with higher education establishments or other awarding bodies. The initiatives that some international schools are taking is truly impressive.

Some of the most exceptional initiatives happening in international schools today will be recognised at the forthcoming International School Awards in January, sponsored this year by Pearson. The awards are in their third year but it is the first year that they embrace all international schools, regardless of orientation or location (they were previously the British International School Awards). Over 200 high quality initiatives were nominated and I’m delighted to announce that the shortlisted schools are Corona Secondary School Nigeria, Atlanta International School USA, Dulwich College Shanghai China, British International School Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Nadeen School Bahrain, British School Muscat Oman, Alice Smith School Malaysia, British International School Abu Dhabi UAE, Dulwich College Beijing China, Haileybury Astana Kazakhstan, Shrewsbury International School Bangkok Thailand, Modern English School Cairo Egypt, English International College Marbella Spain, Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong, GEMS Jumeirah Primary School UAE, Amman Baccalaureate School Jordan, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi UAE, St Andrew’s International School Bangkok Thailand, The International School of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Sunmarke School UAE, Doha British School Wakra Qatar, JESS Dubai UAE, The British School in Tokyo Japan, Greenlands School Egypt, The British School in The Netherlands, British School Jakarta Indonesia, British International School Hanoi Vietnam, Western Academy of Beijing China, International Community School Jordan, The British School New Delhi India, Dulwich College Seoul South Korea, St Paul’s Collegiate School New Zealand, and DelCampo School Honduras. Congratulations to you all. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 21st January in London.

Sharing such initiatives, particularly those that have relevance for many international schools, is important. It helps all schools to imagine potential new approaches that are already proving to be successful. The awards help to raise awareness of some of these and International School Leader Magazine, which is published by ISC Research, will be featuring the award-winning initiatives, along with others, throughout 2019.


  • International schools
  • international schools market