British international schools
British international schools are booming worldwide. Source: Shutterstock

The 2019 Global Opportunities Report by ISC Research has recently confirmed what many believed to be true – the international school market is growing tremendously.

The report showed that “pupil numbers in international schools have increased from 4.3 million in 2015 to 5.4 million this year, with demand for places particularly high in Asia,” according to TES.

ISR Research Schools Director Richard Gaskell said, “There is huge demand today from parents in non-English-speaking countries for English-medium education for their children that prepares them well for the best possible undergraduate degree options at universities overseas.

“The schools that are meeting this demand are the English-medium international schools which are accessible to a growing number of families in many urban locations around the world. There has been a phenomenal growth in the number of these schools in the past ten years as a result of this demand.”

British international schools are leading the way

While other types of Western curricula, such as the American system, have been slower to grow overseas, British international schools have seen exponential growth.

According to RelocateMagazine, “British international schools make up over 45% of the international schools market with 4,300 British schools globally. It is a sector worth more than £1 billion and is one of the UK’s leading exports.”

The 2019 Global Opportunities Report stated, “In the 2018-9 academic year alone, a total of 75 British independent schools have enrolled around 44,000 students aged between 3 and 18 outside the United Kingdom – generating around USD $1 billion (around £816 million).

China is one of the leading countries for welcoming British international schools, as more affluent parents are increasingly seeking a Western-style education for their kids.

Many are hoping for their children to pursue higher education abroad, so international schools are a natural, and more straightforward, pathway to this.

The UK has always been synonymous with high-quality education, with renowned universities such as Oxford cementing its strong education reputation.

Earlier this year, it was predicted that the number of British international schools in China, as well as private schools offering British curricula, will double by the end of this year.

But China is not the only country to experience a boom in international schools. According to TES, “In Dubai, there are now 309 international schools; Shanghai, China, has 168; Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, has 164; Beijing, China, has 151 and Doha, Qatar, has 144 international schools.

“A total of 22 new international schools have opened in the United Arab Emirates alone in the past two years, mostly in the mid-market sector where fees are more affordable.”

British international schools need more teachers

The report estimates that the number of international schools will increase from “10,293 at present to 17,368 in ten-years’ time.”

This means that more teachers at these schools are also needed, as “the number of corresponding teaching posts will rise from 506,900 at present to 916,900.”

Therefore, an extra 400,000 English-speaking teachers are needed globally to meet the demands of British international schools. This could be difficult as the country is already experiencing teacher shortages.

Andrew Lynch, Senior Consultant for Teaching Abroad Direct, said, “The shortage of teachers around the globe is an urgent issue. At the root, we must do what we can to make teaching fulfilling.

“Of course, fulfilment differs from person to person but communication is key. We need to listen to teachers, both aspiring and experienced, learn what they need and deserve from their post and environment. Whether that is abroad or at home.”

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