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At the IASL conference in Italy 2009, the international school librarian group brainstormed criteria for describing an international school and although all international schools may not meet all criteria, a majority of criteria would be met. The criteria noted were as follows:
a. Transferability of the students education across international schools.
b. A moving population (higher than in state schools).
c. Multinational and multilingual student body. (percentages?)
d. An international curriculum.( eg. IB - DP, MYP, PYP)
e. International accreditation (e.g. CIS, IBO, North Eastern ASC, Weston Ass. of Schools and colleges were mentioned by the group).
f. A transient and multinational teacher population.
g. Non-selective student enrollment.
h. Usually English or bi-lingual as the language of instruction.

If you have any more criteria to add or just have something to say - please comment!


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Replies to This Discussion

Perhaps also add a statement about a commitment to internationalism. I realise it is implicit in factor (d), but philosophically may be more, and also suggests a difference between international schools and those that have a national affiliation, etc. The factors above are certainly comprehensive, and include more than some references in the international school literature. Having looked at this literature for a thesis, there were three or four common features (as identified above) but also that it was not possible to define an international school, and I note that the group indicated all international schools may not meet all the above criteria. Sounds an interesting discussion.
I'm not so sure about that last criterion, Ingrid - "Usually English or bi-lingual as the language of instruction".

I believe there are Japanese, German, French, Spanish and surely many other international schools, teaching in the school's tongue and maybe others as well? What about the European Schools group?

Whether these schools meet the other criteria, including the one suggested by Anthony, that is another matter...

Hi Anthony and John,
Thanks for your comments. I agree with you both....defining an international school is almost impossible.....we talked round and round to come up with the criteria above and although we were not 100% satisfied, we wanted to get something down in writing - mainly to try to distinguish ourselves from national schools in the context of the IASL Regions.

One of the resolutions of the group, and reported back to the IASL executive committee on the last day, was to figure out the difference between the SIG (Special Interest Group) for 'Baccalaureate' and the purpose of the Region"International Schools' and who would do what, where, when. It was proposed that the Region "International Schools' ( in itself a global, not specific geographical entity) would be divided into IB programme International Schools and other International Schools (ie. non IB). Making that distinction might help sort into specific 'interests'.

John - the schools with other languages of instruction? - how international are they I wonder? I only know of very few examples and they appear to be national schools in an international setting. I am not saying of course that only English or bi-lingual schools can be international. I just don't know. Perhaps one of these days someone ( or organisation) will attempt to produce the ultimate World Directory of International Schools. ( and NO! it won't be me!)

Anthony - I would love to read your thesis - I am still waiting.



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