Similar to my previous Getting Started series here I will cover the general information needed to get into the field of K-12 International School teaching. However, once again we need to start with establishing what I mean by International School; education does love its acronyms and specific definitions.
The definition I prefer to use is that a school is an International School if it allows students to graduate with a non-local degree or follows and is overviewed by a non-local curriculum or education group. The more traditional and strict definition of international schools are schools the serve only foreign passport holders. Those kinds of schools are rare and have only gotten rarer in recent times. Due to the incredibly low number of schools that fit the stricter criteria I will not be using that definition even though those schools are generally very good and excellent long-term career goal. The large respected recruiters like International Search Associates and ISS-Schrole advertise positions for schools that fulfill the criteria I have presented.
It is common to hear talk of fake “international” schools. When people mention those generally, they are talking about a local private school that offers bilingual instruction. Local private schools will not have accreditation in a foreign curriculum and generally have lower compensation than an international school. However, that does not mean they are bad. They simply just can not charge as high of tuition as a school with a greater draw to high income parents. They mostly aim at the middle class of the resident country. If you have no or little experience or lower credentials than a international school desires they can be a potential option, but I will cover job searching in the next article.
The last point I will make is on the “tiers” of international schools. Commonly people will talk about wanting to investigate “tier 1” international schools. There is no official list by any means. International school ranking is even vaguer than the Chinese city tier system. Generally, schools with majority foreign passport holders, that are well funded, offer generous compensation packages, and have a long history are considered “Tier 1.” Next time I will cover the requirements to work in an international school and job search advice. At the end of this article is a list, by no means comprehensive, of schools that are considered Tier 1 by a number of people.
Lincoln School - Argentina
FDR - Peru
Graded - Brazil
Nido - Chile
ISK - Kenya
American International School Jo'burg - South Africa
Lincoln School - Ghana
IS Dakar - Senegal
IS Tanganyika - Tanzania (maybe?)
American School of Dubai - UAE
American Community School - Abu Dhabi - UAE
TAISM - Oman
International School of Bangkok
NIST - Thailand
International School Manila
International School Beijing
ASIJ - Japan
Yokohama International School
UNIS - Vietnam
JIS - Indonesia