How are partnered schools going to change in the next ten years?
Although people are asking about where international schools are likely to be built in the next ten years, Paul Cabrelli and Andy Homden think we should also be asking about how new schools are going to be different.
Change is in the air
There is a sense that although international education is still growing, it is also changing. Underlying demand for access to a high-quality education in the medium of English remains undiminished and is global, but seismic shifts in geopolitics and changes in the way that international schools are regulated within national jurisdictions, have focused attention on the ‘where’ of new opportunities for the establishment of international schools.
However, the question of what kind of international schools are likely to emerge as partners to a UK school during this period of change is equally important.
The story so far
International schools associated with British partners are generally of a certain type. A ‘UK Branded’ international school is likely to be a co-educational day school for students aged 3 to 18, whether or not the home school offers an all-though provision, or is single-sex. The international version of the home school will embrace a wide range of abilities, with provision for learning support as well as Oxbridge, Ivy League and Russell Group – bound alumni. It will, perhaps, be built to an award-winning design.
It will be a premium, high cost school and place an emphasis on general ‘excellence”
There is every reason to believe that more schools of this type will be built in the next ten years. But is it the only possible model for UK-branded international schools? If global uncertainty is making us think about the ‘where’ of new international schools, we need to pay rather more attention to ‘what kind’ of new schools are going to be started as international education evolves. In this context, home schools might consider a different reimaging of itself as a potnetial partner in an international context that really helps it stand apart.
The growing importance of boarding
A noticeable trend developing in the last 4 or 5 years is the growing provision for international boarding, not only in Asia, but also in Europe.
Boarding opens interesting possibilities for new schools to become more specialised than the ‘broad and balanced’ day model that predominates at the moment. According to Nick Mooney, an expert in specialist sports academies, experience suggests that schools which offer strong elements of sports specialisation also attract stronger general applications. Bearing this in mind, potential UK partner schools might benefit from identifying an element of specialisation in which they excel, in order to set them apart from competitors when seeking an international partner.
So what kind of specialist schools are likely to emerge in the next 5 to 10 years?
Establishing a specialised sports academy associated with the new school, possibly in assiocation with a national sporting body or sports charity, is likely to become increasingly common. Australia is leading the way by aligning designated sports schools with the Australian Olympic Committee.
Expect more sporting initiatives in the next five years associated with more UK brands.
Expressive and Performance Arts Colleges
Is this a curriculum area whose time has really come and gone mainstream? At the time of the Millennium, when Singapore acknowledged the importance of the arts in a modern economy massive investment in all areas followed. Where Singapore goes, others follow.
Creativity was the new buzz word in 2000 and is no less important today. And it’s not just about the artists and performers. With film, production and technical skills increasingly in demand to serve a rapidly expanding global entertainment industry, this is an area in which many UK schools are well placed to support in a new project.
Science, Design and Technology
Few countries in the world can afford to neglect the education of scientists, engineers and designers of all types. If a new school is to be owned or sponsored by a national or international engineering or design company there will be special opportunities. Establishing specialised Science and Technology Colleges in a zone where government or private investment are ecouraging the growth of speciific technologies is likey to become increasingly common. Home schools with the right connections are well placed to take advantage of this.
Entrepreneurial and business education
The strength of virtually any national economy will be reflected in the strength of its Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The growth of indigenous businesses is especially important for countries with a youthful population – countries like Egypt and Nigeria, where the development of entrepreneurial skills is essential and could provide opportunities for UK partner schools running the right kind of specialised programmes already.
Low-cost hybrid programmes.
UK partner schools have been reluctant to position themsleves to meet the growing demand for low-cost international education. This might be about to change. Hybrid education, for which a potential partner school may have developed an aptitude in recent years, might have rather different applications in a developing economy, where the majority of the population cannot afford a full international education. Online enrichment and weekend classes embedded in a newly-founded premium school might open up pathways for many, while helping to identify talented students who could qualify for scholarships and bursaries to attend the school as a full-time student.
The predominant 3 – 18 broad-based partner school is not going to disappear. Far from it. Moreover, any specialised programmes in the senior years of school will still be built on broad academic foundations, especially if the school covers the full 3 – 18 age-range.
However, greater variety is likely and partner schools from the UK, the Americas and Australasia are certain to play an important role as these trends develop.
Andy Homden and Paul Cabrelli are Senior Consultants at Consilium Education and support UK schools seeking to gain access to the international market in a variety of ways.
For further information about this work, please contact Andy Homden on firstname.lastname@example.org