Firstly, what is an international school?
Definitions differ, but only slightly. Essentially, an international school is one that teaches a curriculum which isn’t that of the host nation; i.e. the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London or the British School of Paris. However, don’t get these confused with UK independent schools or US high schools that simply teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma at post-16. The International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) also drew up a list of additional commonalities at their 2009 conference. These included the likes of the transient nature of teachers and pupils.
International schools evolved out of the need for standardised education worldwide. They provide a continuation of learning for the children of diplomats and employees of multinational corporations regularly posted overseas. As such, the pupil populations of international schools tend to not be native children, though local families will send their aspirational children to gain international qualifications.
So, they’re the English-medium schools I’ve heard of?
It’s important to not confuse international schools with English-medium schools. The latter are schools teaching in English in countries where English is not the first language; i.e. there are around 80,000 schools in India that teach an Indian curriculum in English.
Are international schools important? There can’t be that many
By 2019 there were already over 10,000 international schools spread across the globe and some estimates project there being in excess of 16,000 by 2030. Regardless of whether you offer curriculum-aligned resources or manufacture classroom furniture, international schools represent an excellent target audience due to the nature of them being fee-paying institutions and their progressiveness in teaching.