Storm resistant?

International schools and the adaptation to crises

Will Bedford of ISC Research, asks how resilient the international schools’ market has been in historic times of crisis and how this might inform future planning.

Underlying strengths

The international schools’ market is not new to crises and many international schools have comprehensive plans in place for unexpected closures. Nothing, however, has impacted the whole sector quite like COVID-19. Charting a course into the future is not going to be easy.

The international schools’ market is, nevertheless, expected to show resilience, for the same reason it has in the past. Local international school parents, particularly in Asia, value their child’s education over many other needs. So much so, that they will only withdraw their child from their international school as a last resort, as past experience has shown during tough times. During the global recession following the financial crash of 2008, most local children maintained their international school places even if their families were financially impacted in other aspects of their lives.

Historic responses

The reasons why international schools have weathered crises in the past are examined in a series of White Papers published by ISC Research<> for international schools, educational suppliers and investors. In addition to the 2008 global financial crash, this new series examines data and market response to the major oil and gas slump between 2014 and 2016, and Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011.

Current adaptability

According to ISC Research analysis, many international schools are demonstrating adaptability and resilience in their response to the worldwide crisis. Their solutions for distance learning, wellbeing provision and strategies to assess and address learning gaps, are in many ways already leading the current educational responses the threat of Covid-19.


Future action

They will need to display similar qualities to prepare for other difficulties going into the future. One such challenge may involve potential staff recruitment challenges, which will only fully reveal themselves from July, when recently recruited teachers need to relocate to take up their new positions. According to the White Paper, there will be some who choose not to travel, while others may face travel issues related to border restrictions. Either way, according to the analysis, the result could be staff shortages at the beginning of the new school year and International schools will need to consider alternative options.

It’s going to be a busy summer as schools, suppliers and owners face a situation that is likely to be unpredictable and volatile for some time. With so many issues beyond control, identifying and being fully in command of areas that can be planned for has never been more important.



Will Bedford – Senior Manager of the Schools Division at ISC Research






Free copy

If you would like to download a free copy of the white papers, please click here.>.

ISC Research tracks the world’s international schools’ market. It gathers and supplies intelligence and data on international school market developments, challenges and opportunities. More information about the market, and the reports and services available:<>


Feature Image: by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

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