British schools abroad say new standards will protect their brand

30th October 2009 at 00:00

The organisation that represents top UK schools overseas has welcomed plans for a set of government-approved standards for British schools abroad.

The Council of British International Schools (Cobis) said that the move, expected to be announced today, will reassure parents and improve the "brand" of British education abroad.

Until now, the 5,000 British-style schools overseas have been voluntarily inspected by a variety of organisations, but there is no "gold standard" provided by an Ofsted-style inspectorate.

Under the new scheme, inspection organisations which meet the new standards will be able to publish their reports on the website of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate, which inspects independent schools in Britain and abroad, is expected to sign up to the new standards, along with private companies offering similar services.

Cobis has been lobbying the Government for a set of quality-assured standards for overseas schools and inspectorates for some years.

Fiona Rogers, Cobis general secretary, said: "Parents can find it very difficult to identify a school that is following the rigorous standards of a British school rather than a school that is just trading on the brand.

"This is not about imposing regulations, as it is totally voluntary."

In a letter to Cobis, due to be read at its teachers' training conference in Madrid today, schools minister Diana Johnson wrote: "We believe these arrangements will allow parents to access good quality, comparable and consistent school inspection reports."

IN PLAIN ENGLISH

International Schools teaching in English: 5,376

- Schools outside the UK teaching elements of the national curriculum: 2,000

- If a school describes itself as a "British school" it does not necessarily follow the curriculum. It may justify the name merely by teaching in English.

- Some schools calling themselves "International Schools" follow the British curriculum.

- British schools abroad often cater for the children of the 5.5 million British expats.

- There has been a 62 per cent increase in the number of international schools worldwide in the past three years.

Source: ISC ResearchIndependent Schools Council.

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