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What does it mean to be an international school?

What does it mean to be an international school?

By Derek Nelson, Primary School Principal


Within the last 20 years, the number of international schools has grown by almost 500% according to ISC , the International Schools Consultancy. During this time, school demographics have changed such that 80% of student populations within these schools now come from the host country. In 2000, that statistic was 80% expatriate families.

A growing number of educators are rethinking what exactly it means to be an international school. The blend of student demographics, teacher demographics, curriculum and culture are unique in each school. Some schools are international through purposeful design while others may be due to students diversity. 

There is no fixed formula or definition. Most schools, even national schools regardless of their label, are on a spectrum of internationalism and recognize that education must provide students with the skills to navigate an increasingly globalized world. Our students’ worlds are huge and getting bigger every day.

School leaders must foster a mindset that values the beliefs and constructs of many cultures and is suited to our interconnected present and future. Our school communities need to develop rituals and routines to support this mindset. And they need to continue evolving their curriculum to bring cultural diversity into teaching practice.