Once the preserve of expat or military families, international schools are becoming increasingly popular with students around the world. With pupil numbers rising 7% year-on-year, we look at what international schools can offer – and who’s signing up.
First established to serve a mobile expat community that wanted consistent, portable and high-quality education for their children, the make-up of international schools is changing. According to data from ISC Research, four out of five students now come from local families. As technology brings us all closer, more parents are realising the importance of preparing their children for the global marketplace.
International schools follow an international curriculum. Practically speaking, this makes it easier to transfer between schools around the world – but more than that, the content covered prepares students more comprehensively for whatever path they may take.
The International Baccalaureate (IB), for example, makes learning a language compulsory. History is on offer for everyone – and modules take a broader perspective than the often UK-centric approach found in most British schools. This helps instill a sense of global community that encourages curiosity, tolerance and confidence.
The very ethos of international schools promotes open-mindedness. And an often transient, multicultural population helps embed this. While some may suggest the turnover of students could be unsettling, most international schools work exceptionally hard to create welcoming, supportive environments for exactly this reason. Smaller class sizes and a focus on extracurricular activities further ensure each and every child finds their place, and finds their own way to flourish.
Such is the draw of an international education that some families are choosing to send their children overseas, even if they themselves are based elsewhere. An international boarding school is an excellent way to immerse children in another culture, and they return home with a global network of lifelong friends and potential opportunities.
So while international schools will continue to cater for the world’s most mobile families, in today’s international community, it’s easy to see why an outward-looking, future-facing education has growing appeal.
In this month’s interview, Maria Rosengren, Admissions Director at Halcyon London International School, discusses her thoughts on the advantages of an international education.