International schools boost support for SEN pupils

11 December 2020

International schools are increasingly catering for pupils with special educational needs, according to Diane Glass of ISC Research, who spoke at a recent Global Special Interest Group meeting.

There is increasing interest in inclusive learning, she said, with 67% of fee-paying international schools having a learning support programme and 70% looking for expert training in how to teach inclusively. In addition, 60% recognise pupils with mental health issues.

The number of international schools has increased five-fold in the last 20 years., they now cater for close to 6 million pupils. There now over 12,00 international schools in the world, over half in China, with close to 6m pupils.

In 2000 most international schools taught UK and US curricula in English to children of ex-patriots. Today they are increasingly likely to teach in more than one language and to have local pupils, although UK oriented curricula are still dominant with around a third of schools offering them. There are 44 British independent schools operating in China, says Glass.

Following Covid 19 many schools quickly adopted remote learning. Schools reported synchronous learning platforms and live online lessons were most effective.

ISC Research runs a platform that includes two continuously updated databases of schools and of staff. The company also produces regular studies of the international schools sector. 

Glass was asked how BATA members should market their products to international schools. She had this advice: “You need to approach this from a number of different angles. Don’t do email campaigns too often and make sure they are well-targeted. Demonstrate you understand what sort of school you are approaching. Do include case studies.

“Webinars, thought leadership and content marketing are the order of the day. Organise a webinar with a school that is using your product. Social media is really important. The groups that manage international schools are vital you must talk to them.”