Tag: international education

Pre K to K-12

Huge global demand for English-medium K-12 education

July 2016 – The insatiable appetite for English-medium, Western-style education for children continues to expand around the world. The new 2016 Global Report on the English-medium K-12 international schools market published by The International School Consultancy (ISC Research) indicates that the number of international schools in many countries is rising rapidly.

The 2016 ISC Research Global Report states that the number of English-medium K-12 schools (which includes British and American schools overseas, and British independent schools abroad) has increased by 41.5% in the past five years to a current total of 8,257. The number of students attending international schools is now over 4.3 million; a 45.9% growth in just five years. Asia (including Western Asia; the Middle East) has seen the greatest increase in students during this time with a 55.7% growth. Asia now has 54% of all international schools (4,448) and 60% of all students (2.55 million).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China lead the world in terms of number of schools; UAE has 548 schools and China has 547. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have the highest number of students; 564,200 students and 265,400 respectively.

The number of students studying at international schools in their home countries continues to increase. This means that more families are selecting a fee-paying international school in preference to the local national school. The main reasons for this choice are to enable children to learn in the language of English, to obtain globally recognised qualifications (predominantly A levels, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme or America’s SATs, ACT or Advanced Placement), and to follow a Western-style of learning. This education experience provides the most reliable pathway to gaining a place at a reputable university.

In several countries where government policies restricting local children from attending international schools have been relaxed or removed altogether, this has resulted in a dramatic increase in demand for school places. This has been particularly notable in Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea. In Malaysia, where some schools are currently experiencing a significant loss of expatriate children because of the oil and gas crisis, high demand from local families for international school places has helped to keep enrolment high.

In China where, by law, local children are not allowed to attend foreign-owned international schools, new types of international schools are now emerging catering specifically for Chinese nationals. Current international school growth in China is being fuelled entirely by the local market and this is producing an unprecedented increase in the number of Chinese-owned private bilingual schools.

Enrolment in Latin America is also on the rise, led by Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Many schools are adopting a bilingual approach (where English is one of the languages of learning) and offering an international curriculum (most often the International Baccalaureate) in response to demand from local families.

An average annual tuition fee at international schools globally has dropped for the fourth year in succession to $9,330. According to the Global Report this is 0.2% lower than in 2011. However, total annual fee income for the K-12 international schools market has increased by 45.9% over the last five years to $39 billion as a result of the huge market expansion.

The future continues to look extremely good for the international school sector and for future investment within the market. ISC Research forecasts that by 2026 the K-12 international schools market will reach 16,000 schools teaching 8.75 million students, generating a total fee income of $89 billion. The biggest challenge will be the ability of international schools to recruit enough qualified, Western-trained teachers; a key selection criteria for many parents. ISC Research predicts that the number of teachers required within ten years will be 780,000; double the current number of full-time staff employed in the sector.

Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of The International School Consultancy says: “Looking to the future, the most significant concern for international schools will be the sourcing and hiring of enough suitably qualified teachers and leaders. No one really knows where they are going to come from. One thing is certain; demand by parents for places at international schools with predominantly Western teachers who have respected Western qualifications, is unlikely to be satisfied.”

More data and intelligence on the world’s international schools market is available in the new 2016 ISC Research Global Market Report. For more information and to purchase a copy of the report contact enquiries@isc-r.com or call 01367 246009.

International Schools Moving Towards Inclusion

April 2016 – An increasing number of international English-medium K-12 schools are embracing the opportunities and challenges of inclusion says a recent survey conducted by ISC Research and Next Frontier Inclusion.

The survey was conducted this January and asked over 8,000 international schools about their approaches to inclusion and their provision for children with learning differences. Responses were collected from 584 schools of varying sizes, based in all regions of the world.

Today’s international schools market responds to the learning needs of children from both expatriate and local families, and provision for students with special learning needs is no longer an exception. As legislation supporting inclusion in schools is being implemented in such countries as the UK, US and Australia, so expatriate parents are expecting such provision from international schools. And local families, unable to access specialist support in their state schools, are increasingly turning to international schools for the solutions they need. It is as a result of these demands that a growing number of international schools are becoming more inclusive.

The results of the survey by ISC Research and Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI) reflect this move towards inclusion. Although a third of the schools that responded classify themselves as selective (27% based on testing and previous school records and 6% as highly selective), the remaining schools consider themselves non-selective to varying degrees. 13% said they accept a managed number of students with mild learning differences and 28% said they accept a managed number of students with both mild and moderate learning differences. 9% said they accept a managed number of children with learning differences who include some with intensive needs. Often children with intensive needs follow a modified curriculum and may be placed in ‘a school within the school’, following an alternative pathway to graduation.

Integration within the mainstream classroom varies significantly. 35% of schools that participated in the survey said they follow an inclusive approach whenever they can; 25% said they use a learning specialist as a consultant and 10% said they use a learning specialist to co-plan, co-teach and co-assess alongside the mainstream teacher (known as a ‘push-in’ model). 44% said they use both push-in and pull-out (resource room) models. Only 5% of schools reported that the pull-out model was the main learning approach employed. However, NFI has found that there remains considerable confusion in international schools regarding the relative merits and weaknesses of different models of provision suggesting more understanding of appropriate provision needs to be developed.

What is evident from the survey is that most international schools are uncomfortable with an exclusionary attitude towards children with special learning needs. However, skilled staff are often lacking. Only 33% of the schools in the study said that staff working with students with learning differences are entirely qualified special educators. 21.5% said staff are mostly qualified, 39% said some are qualified, and 14% said they have no specialists to support children with learning differences.

Of particular note was the fact that 84% of the international schools that responded to the survey said they enrol children with special gifts and talents, but only 35% of the schools said they are satisfied with their provision for this group of students. “There is a disconnect here,” says Bill Powell, Director of NFI. “Many times, school leaders use finances as a reason to exclude children with special educational needs. They’ll say: ‘we don’t have the programme for you, so it would be wrong for us to take you into our school’. But on the flip side of this, some of these schools are accepting children with high academic gifts and talents, even though they admit they are not happy with the provision they provide. That’s a significant ethical consideration that this survey has highlighted.”

In response to this misalignment, NFI is putting together a task force to propose standards for meeting the needs of highly capable students in international schools.

Other conclusions from the survey suggest an attitudinal shift away from elitist and non-inclusionary language and policies although many schools indicate they are insecure about how to change. “There’s a greater willingness towards inclusion, but there’s also some scratching of heads about what to do, and a fear about getting it wrong,” says Ochan Powell, also a Director of NFI.

The survey is the first of its kind amongst international schools and ISC Research intends to track the market on an annual basis to identify trends as they develop. “Anecdotal evidence suggests the market is moving towards being more inclusive,” says Richard Gaskell, Director for International Schools at ISC Research. “This focused research will help us to provide the data that international schools need in order to know how the market is actually responding to the needs of all students.”

A full report of the survey is available here or from ISC Research.

ISC Research is part of The International School Consultancy (ISC) and has been the leading provider of data and market intelligence on the world’s international schools market for over 20 years. Next Frontier Inclusion is a non-profit membership organisation supporting international schools on their journeys to becoming increasingly inclusive of children with special education needs.


Where are the greatest number of international schools?

August 2015 – There are now 22 countries in the world with over 100 English-medium international schools. This means that for expatriate and local families, opportunities for their children to follow an English-medium education and to learn through an internationally-recognised curriculum are becoming increasingly accessible.

Here are the figures published by ISC Research from August 2015. The UAE leads the world with 511 international schools teaching over 508,000 students. 253 schools in the UAE are located in Dubai alone. Here the options are extensive although competition for the best schools remains high. The National Curriculum of England is the most popular curriculum option and is offered in half of all international schools in the UAE.

China has 480 international schools. For such a vast country, this may seem a relatively low number. A large part of the reason for this is that most of China’s early international schools are foreign-owned and, with few exceptions, are not allowed to enrol local children. However, there is a rapidly increasing demand from Chinese parents for English-medium education for their children, and the international schools landscape in China is changing in response to this demand. The number of Chinese-owned international schools is growing fast and, crucially, local children are allowed to attend these schools.

Elsewhere, India, Pakistan, Japan, Spain and Saudi Arabia all have over 200 international schools offering all or part of the curriculum in English (Pakistan has 439, India has 411, Saudi Arabia has 245, Japan has 233, and Spain has 203).

Countries with over 100 international schools include Indonesia (190 schools), Thailand (172) and Malaysia (142) in South East Asia; Qatar (152) in the Middle East; Hong Kong (176) in East Asia; Mexico (122), Brazil (135) and Argentina (160) in South America; Germany (169), Netherlands (151), Sweden (107), France (104) and Switzerland (103) in Europe; and Nigeria (129) and Egypt (188)in Africa.


This article was published by Anne Keeling, Marketing & Media Relations at The International School Consultancy Group (ISC). Email: anne@annekeeling.co.uk or anne@isc-r.com for more information. This article was first published here.

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