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An International school is loosely defined as a school that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International Examinations, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in. More specifically, at a conference in Italy in 2009 the International Association of School Librarianship came up with a list criteria for describing an international school . They are as follows:
- a. Transferability of the student's education across international schools.
- b. A moving population (higher than in state schools or public schools).
- c. Multinational and multilingual student body
- d. An international curriculum.( e.g. IB - DP, MYP, PYP)
- e. International accreditation (e.g. CIS, IBO, North Eastern ASC, Weston Assc. 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 bilingual as the language of instruction
These schools cater mainly to students who are not nationals of the host country, such as the children of the staff of international businesses, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions, or missionary programs. Many local students attend these schools to learn the language of the international school and to obtain qualifications for employment or higher education in a foreign country. In April 2007 there were 4,179 ‘English-speaking international schools. with this number set to rise with globalisation. Already in New Delhi worldwide entries for the Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) June 2009 examination session are up by almost 20% on the same session last year. The strong growth confirms the status of Cambridge IGCSE as the world's, and India's, most popular international curriculum for 14-16 year olds, indicating that despite the global financial crises education is still a valued investment. International Schooling allows children to become global citizens by providing a rigorous and comprehensive education with full immersion into multiple languages and cultures. In April 2007 there were 4,179 ‘English-speaking international schools’.
The first International schools were founded in the latter half of the 19th century in countries such as Japan, Switzerland and Turkey. Early International schools were set up for those who are constantly on the move, like children of personnel of international companies, international organizations, NGOs, embassy staff with the help of nations having large interests in the hosting nation: for instance, American diplomats and missionaries often set up schools to educate their children; children of American military and army families often attended Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS); French diplomats and business families founded similar schools based on the French curriculum. Over time globalization has proven that education no longer can exist solely on a national level. “In a global economy, it is no longer improvement by national standards alone. The best performing education systems internationally provide the benchmark for success,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría launching the annual ‘education at a glance’ report in Paris. Increased movement of people around the globe has created a generation of children growing up and residing in foreign countries, creating and expanding this market for international schools that can cater for their educational needs.
International schools typically use curricula based on the school's country of origin. The most common international schools represent Education in the United Kingdom or Education in the United States. Many international schools use curricula specially designed for international school such as the International General Certificate of Secondary Education or the IB Diploma Programme that are all predominantly committed to the notion of internationalism and the global citizen and providing an environment for optimal learning and teaching in an international setting that fosters understanding, independence, interdependence, and cooperation. The United Nations International School (UNIS) was established in 1947 by a group of United Nations Parents to promote an international education for their children, while preserving their diverse cultural heritages. This was the very first school offering the International Baccalaureate program . The school promotes the appreciation of the diversity of persons and cultures, provides an optimal environment for learning and teaching, and offers a global curriculum that inspires in its students the spirit and ideals of the United Nations Charter. Like other schools, international schools teach the subjects such as language arts, mathematics, the sciences, humanities, the arts, physical education, information technology, and design technology. More recent developments specifically for primary school include the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). There are currently 3063 schools offering the international baccalaureate curriculum in the world.
For expatriate families, international schools allow some continuity in education and most prefer to stay in the same curriculum, especially for older children. Relocation services and institutions like School Choice International can help families choose the right school and curriculum for their child.
Faculty at International Schools are usually from or certified by the standards of their country of origin. However there are many exceptions. The most common exception is when the international school requires a teacher trained specifically for an international syllabus or for teaching a foreign language rare to the international school's country of origin.
Hiring is frequently done at large international job fairs, such as the ones held by the Council of International Schools (CIS), where schools can interview and hire several teachers at once. There are also a handful of agencies which specialise in recruiting international teachers. Over the years it has become harder to recruit young international teachers, partly because of international security fears, partly because the compensation packages are not as attractive as they used to be. In some countries such as South Korea, recent visa changes have also made it more difficult to obtain both qualified and unqualified teachers.
See also 
- List of international schools
- Council of International Schools
- European Council of International Schools
- United World Colleges
- International Baccalaureate
- Cambridge International Examinations
- International Schools Services
- International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) http://iaslonline.ning.com/group/regioninternationalschools/forum/topics/how-to-define-an-international
- Teachers International Consultancy (2008-07-17). "The Quiet Crisis in Recruitment". Retrieved 2008-12-09.
- Education: Governments should expand tertiary studies to boost jobs and tax revenues "http://www.oecd.org/document/52/0,3343,en_2649_37455_45925620_1_1_1_1,00.html
- United Nations International School: Mission and Guiding Principles http://www.unis.org/about_unis/mission__guiding_principles/index.aspx
- IB World School statistics http://www.ibo.org/facts/schoolstats/progcombinationsbyregion.cfm
- Council of International Schools: Recruitment Fairs http://www.cois.org/page.cfm?p=21