Groups & Affiliations

If they’re not state schools, who runs international schools?

A good way to visualise the operation of international schools is to compare them (loosely) with academies in the UK, charter schools in the USA and Canada, and partnership schools in New Zealand. Although some may be one of a kind, many are part of a large group. For example, the Harris Federation operates a couple of dozen academies in the UK and EdisonLearning has over 50 schools in the USA. Internationally, you may be familiar with the likes of GEMS Education and Nord Anglia.

So as not to labour the point, a key difference between these schools is that those academies, charter schools and partnership schools receive money from the state whereas international schools don’t.

The largest international schools groups include:

  • Beaconhouse – based in Pakistan with schools in 9 countries
  • Cognita – based in the UK with schools in 7 countries
  • GEMS Education – based in Dubai with schools in 14 countries
  • Maple Bear – based in Canada with schools in 11 countries
  • Nord Anglia – based in Hong Kong with schools in 12 countries
  • Quality Schools International (QSI) – based in Slovenia with schools in 27 countries

A newer group hoping to challenge the largest – GEMS Education and Nord Anglia – in the coming decades is the International Schools Partnership (ISP). Such ambition is testament to the expected growth in this market.

It must get pretty lonely scattered around the globe

In addition to these international institutions having sister schools in other countries, there are a large number of international and regional affiliations which they can join. For example, the National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS) or the Tri-Association covering American schools in Central America, Colombia, the Caribbean and Mexico. These affiliations hold regular conferences on sharing best practice, education technology and other topics of interest.