In the ISC Research global update webinar about the world’s international schools market (October 2020), many questions were asked by attendees. We did not have the time to answer these during the webinar, so now here are answers to them all from the team at ISC Research:
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Q: What is currently the range of monthly fees for mid-market international schools?
A: The fees for mid-market international schools vary significantly from country to country, as do the fees for the premium schools. Broadly speaking, ISC Research classifies the top 25% of schools within a country as Premium and the next 40% as Mid-Market. However, these percentages are not appropriate for every country. ISC Research applies different percentages to some countries and even to some individual cities based on our deep knowledge of key national markets. Premium or Mid-Market status does not convey any presumption of quality. For example, a premium school may charge higher fees because it employs more foreign teachers, or because it occupies a prime location in an expensive city. A mid-market school may be able to charge mid-range fees because it has very favourable lease terms on its premises and is run on a not-for-profit basis.
Q: What percentage of students in international schools are now from the host country vs expat students?
A: This varies from country to country and in some countries is dependent on government caps limiting the number of local children able to attend their international schools. In many countries today, at least 50% of students are local nationals. Globally, approximately 80% of all students attending international schools are local children.
Q: What trends are you seeing in teacher recruitment, training and development?
A: There remains significant demand by international schools for teachers who have qualified and gained teaching experience in English-speaking countries where education training is highly valued such as Britain, US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland, although there is a difficulty right now in hiring teachers from Australia due to COVID restrictions on travel from the country.
However, more international schools are valuing a blend of teachers with different experiences and skills. This is increasingly including local teachers who have local cultural understanding and local language skills, as well as skilled expatriate teachers from a broader range of countries. Some international schools and school groups are developing training programmes to upskill some of their staff, particularly their local staff, and actively supporting them in developing their teaching skills and qualifications.
Many international schools are now offering incentives to preferred teachers to extend their contracts in order to provide more stability within their teaching staff.
Q: I have developed bi-lingual software for the EYFS. With the current political climate between China and the UK should I continue to promote this in China or concentrate on other markets?
A: Government regulations have a crucial impact on export success and China is one country where regulations are very restrictive. There are many countries where your software would be accessible to international schools without limitations.
Q: Any idea if the government would implement a better digital learning, i.e. laptops, internet for South East Asia?
A: Government strategies towards digital learning will differ from country to country. Education ministries may well look at the great work international schools have been doing around digital learning, and consider ways, where appropriate, of mirroring these practices throughout the local system. In Thailand, we have spoken with heads who mentioned there is a growing desire amongst the Ministry of Education for international schools to work in collaboration with the local school sector. We imagine this, in part, will refer to strategies revolving around distance learning. We are not hearing of countries in South East Asia enforcing specific legislations surrounding digital learning at this time. Governments are more likely to be learning from international schools.
Q: Can your team share any perspective on the International schools market in India?
A: India has more international schools in the world than any other country except for China. Currently there are 730 schools with several new international schools in development there. Although demand for quality, English-speaking, international education is very high amongst local families, many cannot afford it. Fees are generally low because of market demand, and so schools tend to aim for high enrolments, and higher than average teacher to student ratios, to compensate for the low tuition fees. Some cities, such as Mumbai/Pune and Bangalore, have potential for more international schools that can charge higher fees because of the access there to more wealthy families. However, with 42 national languages, and education governed on a state by state basis, developing an international school or establishing an education brand in India is challenging and requires full market knowledge, understanding, and trusted in-country partners to achieve success.
Q: Do you have any feedback from schools on how they are identifying gaps in learning? e.g. what assessments/teacher practice is being used? How are they addressing the gaps?
A: Assessment during online learning was challenging for most schools due to time availability as well as authenticity of learning evidence and clarity regarding the extent of parental involvement in the submissions of some students. As a result, many schools have been assessing children as they have returned to campus learning in order to identify gaps and most schools say they have implemented new or expanded assessment strategies. For example, in some schools students are being asked to deliver self-assessment and reflect on areas they are unsure of, and many schools are maintaining strong communications with parents through parent and teacher evenings, open days, and parent presentations with Q&As in order to give feedback. Collapsing timetables has been a way some schools have found beneficial for focusing on specific subjects where there are most gaps.
Q: What about students who are stranded in their country, how would they sit for the oncoming exam?
A: This year’s examinations will be dependent on what governments and examining boards decide. Some boards and governing bodies are discussing possible assessment alternatives.
Q: How much activity do you think there is around monitoring and supporting young people’s mental health through this time?
A: Many schools have talked of their concerns regarding student and staff wellbeing as a result of campus closures, country lockdowns, and the impact of the pandemic. International schools have been very active in introducing strategies specifically to support student and staff wellbeing during this time, both during campus closures, and as campuses have reopened. The concerns regarding mental health continue and many school leaders are dedicating more resource to supporting this. Evidence of this has been seen recently in the number of applications submitted for the Wellbeing Initiative in this year’s International School Awards. Several of these initiatives will be shared in International School Leader Magazine throughout 2021.
Q: Can you explain a bit more about new models of international schools in the western hemisphere?
A: There continues to be demand for bilingual international education in the western hemisphere and more schools are offering this provision as a result. Development of new international schools has been slow in this region but demand continues, and some national schools have developed a more international provision (bilingual learning and international curriculum and qualifications) to meet this need.
Q: What are the trends in early years in international schools?
A: Knowledge of brain-friendly learning has developed rapidly in recent years and with it an increased understanding of the role of more informed provision in Early Years. There are some international schools setting significant standards in this phase of learning, and new curricula and many classroom solutions supporting Early Years have emerged as a result.
The use of technology has increased significantly in the Early Years in recent times. That being said, this has raised concerns about potential reduction in abilities elsewhere, such as motor skills. As a result, there is a growing debate amongst Early Years specialists about the optimum levels of tech usage.
Enrolment into international Early Years is a guaranteed pathway to the compulsory years of education in most countries, and parents seek it out for this reason.
Q: Apart from infrastructure and device availability have you picked up any barriers to a more blended learning approach? e.g. parental expectations, some subjects not lending themselves to blended learning, teacher knowledge on delivering like this? How are schools monitoring the effectiveness of this more common approach?
A: Blended learning is a completely different way of teaching & learning to the traditional classroom approach and, as such, requires significant teacher training and professional development. Schools considering introducing a more blended approach will be investing significantly into such support as well as improving infrastructure. This will require extensive development, but campus closures have shown some schools that this approach better suits the learning needs of more children and provides a solution that works effectively when campuses are forced to close, or when teachers are not accessible on campus. Even without a pandemic, many international schools do face campus closures from time to time due to environmental or political challenges so moving to a new way of learning that can be continued on or off campus will be appealing to some schools.
Evaluation of a new approach to teaching and learning is of course essential to track student progress and to evaluate teacher development needs. More formative and summative assessment models designed to support blended learning will no doubt emerge if this approach to teaching and learning grows in popularity.
Q: What is the price for country reports?
A: Costs of our reports vary depending on the country and the type of report that you require (whether it is for new school investment, strategic planning, etc) so do get in touch and we can guide you to the right report or solution to meet your need. We have solutions that support international schools, education suppliers, universities and institutions working with schools, future schools, school brands wishing to expand overseas, school groups, and school management companies.
Q: Do you have any parent research reports, e.g. on how they select international schools?
A: We do not currently have any research reports about this although we will be issuing a white paper later this year about why parents select an international school and how. This paper will consider factors such as accreditation, brand recognition, unique selling points, and admissions marketing.
This webinar was sponsored by Engage and we would like to thank Engage for its support. Engage is an award-winning fully integrated school management system which underpins the holistic educational activity, academic achievement and the financial health of international schools across six continents.
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