The number of English-speaking international schools across the world has grown by a fifth in the last four years to more than 10,000 schools, according to a new report.
And the number of teachers in those schools has increased by more than a quarter – from 396,300 in 2015 to 506,900 this year – which is more than the number of full-time teaching posts in England.
The 2019 Global Opportunities Report, compiled by ISC Research, also shows 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.
In the year 2000, there were just 969,000 children learning in English-speaking international schools. The number of international schools has increased more than fourfold in that time from 2,584 to 10,937, says the report. In 2015 there were 8,489.
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 independent schools that have established sister schools overseas currently dominate the very top end of the market, according to the report entitled “Looking to the Future.”
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).
In Asia, international schools have “become an aspiration for a large number of wealthier families,” a spokesperson for ISC Research states. It also says how, in some cities, the choice of international schools is now “extensive.”
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.
In the four years from January 2015 to 2019, East Asia has experienced an average annual student enrolment growth rate of 7.4 per cent, increasing from 452,400 students to 600,900.
South-East Asia has seen a 5.7 per cent average growth rate, from 394,100 students in 2015 to 492,300 this year. And enrolment in Western Asia (the Middle East including Egypt) has grown from 1,334,100 in 2015 to 1,597,200 today.
In China, where international schools for expatriate children are segmented from those that Chinese nationals can attend, it is the international schools for local Chinese children that have experienced most growth, says the report. Today 359,300 children in China attend the 884 international schools there and 66 per cent of them are Chinese nationals.