As the international schools market has expanded, and investment potential has increased, so brands are emerging within this sector that are considered influential across the global education market. ISC Research has released a white paper as a guide to current trends and developments.
The white paper highlights the school groups and brands that are developing as major influencers within international education. It includes data on the growth of school groups within the international schools sector, and examples of new school development and acquisition by school groups.
The growth of international school groups
The white paper suggests that school groups have increased significantly within the last five years. In 2017, ISC Research data recorded 333 school groups representing 2,526 international schools (23% of the total international schools market at that time) teaching 1.28 million students aged between 3 and 18. Today the data includes 616 school groups representing 4,861 international schools (38% of the total international schools market today) and teaching 2.18 million students.
Some of this growth has come about through new school development, but much has occurred through the acquisition of existing schools.
School groups, with their potential to develop common standards and staff development as well as build brand recognition, play a crucial role in raising standards and attracting enrolment demand across the entire international schools market.
Even with this growth, school groups still represent only 38% of the total international schools market, with 62% remaining as individual, often family or sole-owned schools.
The leading international school groups
The leading school groups within the international schools sector include Maple Bear Global Schools, GEMS (Global Educational Management Systems), Beaconhouse Group, SABIS School Network, Grupo SEB, and Nord Anglia Education.
Maple Bear Global Schools, which mostly serves children in the early years, has the highest presence of international schools with 361. GEMS has the highest total number of students enrolled within its group of international schools, in excess of 124,000.
International school groups currently generate over US$22.3 billion in income from annual tuition fees.
Different types of international school groups
Some international school groups specialise in a particular age phase, or represent schools within a specific country or region, whilst others have a more global presence and serve children within the entire K-12 sector. For example, all but one of the 144 schools in Grupo SEB are located in Brazil, and all schools within the Busy Bees group serve nursery-age children only. On the other hand, international schools within Nord Anglia Education serve children from 3 to 18 and are located in 31 different countries.
Some international school groups have been established by British or US independent schools in order to broaden access within locations where there is high demand for the school brand. Examples of this include Wellington College International and Malvern College International.
New development by international school groups
More than half of the 377 future international schools under construction and in planning that ISC Research is currently tracking are part of a school group. 92 of these are scheduled for opening this year (2022). However, most expansion by school groups is occurring through the acquisition of existing schools rather than new builds.
Needless to say, the white paper suggests that the international schools market is still fragmented. This, combined with the market’s defensive resilience and good growth potential, makes it an attractive one for continued investment.
The new white paper is free and available to download.