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Exclusive: Record number of independent schools expand overseas

Soaring demand from affluent Chinese parents sparks rise in the number of UK private schools opening abroad

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Soaring demand from affluent Chinese parents sparks rise in the number of UK private schools opening abroad

More British independent schools are set to open overseas in 2018 than in any of the past 20 years.

The boom is being partly fuelled by demand from wealthy parents in countries like China who want their children to have a Western-style education, according to ISC Research, which has compiled the figures.

At the same time, independent schools want to extend their "brand" overseas, and raise income, says the research company.

Between June and September, the number of overseas British independent schools is set to jump from 57 to 72.

The 15 schools opening this year amounts to a higher number than in any year since 1998, figures seen by Tes reveal. 

In 2017, nine new British international schools opened overseas and in 2016, there were 10. Before that, the highest number came in 2011, when there were six openings.

Most international independent schools are built as "sister schools" that partner with a local investor and share the same brand name, style, ethos and learning approach.

Demand for independent schools

Others are given help with school management services, teaching and learning partnerships, and branding.

In total, ISC Research is aware of 20 international schools scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 academic year – nine of which are in China. They are affiliated with independent schools from a variety of countries including the UK, Australia and the US.

Wellington College is opening three new schools in China, as well as one in Thailand, an ISC report released today states.

Meanwhile, King's College Saint Michaels, based in Worcestershire, is opening an international school in Frankfurt. The report says this is "in response to the increasing demand for British education to support the families of companies, mainly banks and financial institutions, relocating to mainland Europe as a result of Britain departing from the European Union". 

Several British independent schools are branching out overseas for the first time, the report states. They include Sedbergh School in Cumbria, which is opening a sister school in China, and King's College School Wimbledon, which is opening two schools in China.

The report says: "British independent schools currently dominate the international independent school brand sector of the English-medium international schools market."

Taken together, fee income from Australian, US and UK schools amounts to USD $921.7 million, of which UK schools account for USD $833.5 million.

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