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International Schools: Europe

International Education: an industry, an ideal, an individual choice

The business of international education

The origin of international education was largely pragmatic. With the post-war growth of an expatriate workforce, the need arose for English-medium schools in cities around the world.

Today, the business of international education is booming. With increasing numbers of globally mobile families, there are currently over 1000 international schools worldwide, with numbers continuing to rise by about 6 percent a year. Make no mistake, international education is a growth industry with a global annual revenue of over 4 billion US dollars.

Balancing idealism and pragmatism

Business is booming, and that means international schools increasingly have to be business-like. That is to say, whilst the majority of international schools are non-profit organizations, governed by volunteer Boards, they still have to balance their books. Costs are often high and schools rely on tuition fees, rarely receiving subsidies from host country governments.

Increasing numbers of schools in many cities also means greater competition for students. Marketing plans and sales forecasts are therefore as commonplace in schools as in any other company. There is also competition to recruit top quality staff, from an increasingly savvy ‘pool' of teachers, used to shopping around for the most attractive locations and/or compensation and benefits packages.

At the same time, however, the business of international education is not centrally about making the books balance. International schools have, from the outset, been dedicated to the challenge of developing educated, ethical, empathetic individuals, capable of ‘making a difference' in future society. Many of us who have been involved in international education over the years, are deeply committed to the ideal that education does make a difference. In short, we believe that the experience we offer and the service we provide to globally mobile families can literally make a better future for our children.

Choosing the right school

The practical experience of being an expatriate family can often be daunting, particularly if this is a first international assignment. Despite the lure of a new lifestyle, settling into a new location is always stressful.

Choosing the right school for your child, on top of everything else, is one of the most important decisions you will make as parents. But what should you look for in a school?

Here are a few questions that might guide the decision-making process as your review school materials or, better yet, visit the school:

Your child

  • Does the school have planned activities to assist your child in a positive start to school?
  • Do the students seem happy at school?
  • How big are the classes?
  • What services are available for individual student counselling and university placement?
  • How often will you receive information concerning your child's progress?
  • If you child has 'special learning needs', how will the school meet these?
  • What programmes are in place for drug and alcohol prevention?

The curriculum

  • Is the approach child-centered and challenging enough to develop each child's strengths and love of learning?
  • Are the course offerings sufficiently extensive to meet your child's needs?
  • How many co-curricular activities (arts, sports, clubs, community service) are offered?
  • What types of standardized tests are offered, and how do the students perform?
  • In the last year, what universities accepted the school's graduates?

The teachers

  • What are the expectations for staff about students of high ability, special needs, ESL, other areas?
  • Are all the teachers certified?
  • Does the school support professional development, so teachers learn and apply 'best practices'?
  • What percentage of teachers has earned advanced degrees?
  • During your visit, are the teachers available and friendly?

The school

  • Is the school accredited?
  • How many years has the school existed?
  • Are all facilities such as libraries and IT state-of-the-art and well maintained?
  • How long will it take for your child to get to school?
  • What security precautions is the school taking?
  • Were all questions answered in a straight-forward manner with documentation readily offered for claims?

Your involvement

  • Does the school have a strong sense of community in which you and your family can play an active and happy role?
  • To what extent can you be a partner in your child's learning?
  • Does the school offer opportunities for parent education?
  • Are there opportunities for you to contribute to the school by sharing your own skills and knowledge?

It is important to find the right fit for your child. Take time, therefore, to make the right decision - the quality of your child's education will impact his/her future. It is important to ask questions and to ask for documentation to back up claims. You will never regret the time you invested in making the right decision and providing the very best education for your child.

Kevin Bartlett
Director, International School of Brussels

William H Gerritz
Director, International School of Bangkok

Newsweek Showcase Archive Articles:

Moving on, but never forgotten:

International schools across the world are typically defined as places of transition. With many expatriate families staying in one location for only three to four years at a time, these school communities are .......
Kevin Bartlett and John Lippincott

Transforming international education through technology

One of the many challenges faced by today's international schools is how technology, coupled with other developments in instructional practice, can improve learning for........
Michael Crowley, Head of Middle School, International School of Brussels andDoug Stone, IT Director, International School of Brussels

The world is their oyster:

Worldwide, college/university application numbers are up and the admissions process has become increasingly competitive. While most students tend to choose higher education .......
Rick Cameron & Phil Moss

Corporate investment in the future of our schools

There are no longer blanks on the world map. Old atlases with areas of pink indicating uncharted land have been replaced by satellite .......
Robert Brindley & David Willows

A student view on the experience of international education

The benefits of an international school are varied and far-reaching. Whether you're learning to appreciate exotic cuisine........
Aisling Daly, ISB Class of 2008

The New Eurotrotters: Freedom to Work, Freedom to Learn

A United Europe provides its citizens with unprecedented freedom of movement. European universities compete for students. International companies compete for........
Kevin Bartlett, Director, International School of Brussels, Belgium, Chair, Board of the Council of International Schools. Kari Kivinen, Director, European School (Uccle), Brussels, Belgium

Learning Outside the International School Classroom: A Student's View

Two international school students share their experience of learning through Arts and Sports in an international school setting.......
Drew Zaremba,Eric Hamblett,Dr. David Willows of International School of Brussels (ISB)

Campaigning to Change the Landscape of Energy: International schools and the fight against climate change

In 2005, the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission launched Sustainable Energy Europe 2005-2008, an unprecedented campaign aimed at ensuring greater public awareness, understanding and........
Kevin Bartlett, Director, International School of Brussels, Belgium

The 21st Century Dispositions

Hard-nosed vs. soft-hearted, financial focus vs. academic focus, the real world vs. the rarified world - these are just some of the traditional ways that have characterized the world of business vs. the world of academia........
Kevin Bartlett, Director, International School of Brussels, Belgium

Setting Standards, Improving Schools - How accreditation drives quality in international education

There are no longer blanks on the world map. Old atlases with areas of pink indicating uncharted land have been replaced by satellite .......
Kevin Bartlett and Richard Tangye - Council of International Schools

One School, One Classroom: Student Perspectives on International Education

ISB is like many international schools around the world with 1500 students, aged 2 to 19, from 70 countries........
ISB Middle School Students: Ciaran Daly, Gabrielle Flowers, Mubah Rafi, Max Passler, Erum Khalid, Mikala Skelton and Mackenzie Sambuco.

The Benefits of an International School Education

International schools are no newcomers to the educational marketplace - but there are ......
Newsweek Showcase

The International School of Brussels
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The Council of International Schools
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Antwerp International School
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Quality Schools International
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Southbank International School
36-38 Kensington Park Rd
Notting Hill
London W11 3BU
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7243 3803
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Salem College
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Schiller International Schools
Contact in USA:
Tel: +1 727 736 5082
E: [email protected]
Contact in Spain
Tel: +34 93 479 16 16
Click here for more information

British School of Brussels
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