Comment Topic Highlight

How much are international schools actually improving themselves?

May 1, 2020


Sometimes it feels like your international school is stuck in a rut. As hard as it tries and how well intentioned the teachers and administration are at attempting to make the needed changes, the school ends up just staying in the same lane doing the same things it has been doing for years/decades.

But many international schools do indeed figure out how to make the needed changes to help their school improve and move forward to be more current and progressive. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to get these changes to come to pass, sometimes it takes many months and more often years.

Maybe it has to do with international schools going through an accreditation process. They do need to go through a self-assessment phase to figure out what they are doing well and not so well. And then, finally after the accreditation is all over, they get an action plan with specific tasks to complete in the next few years. These tasks typically are required to complete with the aim at helping the school move forward and improve themselves.

Maybe the school gets a change of administration. New administrators in a school typically have a number of new goals that they’d like their new school to achieve and they inspire the staff there to join them. However, it is not always easy to get the staff to ‘get on board’ with the new changes.

More likely, it just comes down to the grassroots efforts of inspired teachers and administrators that are not only just doing their job very well, but often they will be doing things a bit outside their task portfolio. These inspired staff will find others to join them in the quest for change and improvement. And with a lot of hard work and figuring things out about how these changes could work, they get small and larger changes to happen. Getting change to occur is always a challenging task. But with an inspired effort and structured plan with clear expectations and purpose, these teachers and administrators get the job done!

Who doesn’t want to work for an international schools that is living their dream and their best self? When your international school is leading the way, it is the best feeling to be a part of that. The students will also want to be at that school as well!

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of the improvements international schools are making. Our members can share what their experience has been working at various international schools around the world. There are a total of 242 comments (April 2020) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 66 comment topics called – “How have certain things improved since you started working there?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“I’ve been in IAA for a few years now. In that time it has gone through some major and positive changes. Most of it has been extremely overwhelming to most of the staff as they were used to a different way of doing things. In my opinion though, it’s been for the best. Now, we are more organized and structured than before. There’s been tons of professional development and new / higher expectations as well…” – InterAmerican Academy Guayaquil (Guayaquil, Ecuador) – 62 Total Comments

“We’ve added a small coaching team, we’ve begun in-house PD, and we’ve hired more teachers with longer international experience…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (Shanghai, China) – 88 Comments

“They have been working on having policies in writing and following those policies with more diligence. Before, things were a bit ad hoc but they’re trying to be more systematic…” – International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (Shenzhen, China) – 61 Total Comments

“I would say one of the biggest changes (at least in my division) has been morale. With a totally new administration team in the lower primary, people are quite happy and there is a nice sense of community. We have had very few vacancies the past couple years…” – Hong Kong International School(Hong Kong, China) – 145 Comments

“There has been an adjustment in salaries which is good for local staff as hyperinflation is a big issue. Recently, local staff have started getting subsidized lunches which helps a great deal. Secondary now has a TA which was very necessary as several students have special needs. This allows teachers to focus on other students and keep the lesson going…” – British School Caracas (Caracas, Venezuela) – 35 Comments

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Xian Hi-Tech International School in China

August 27, 2016


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China), described his way to work there as follows:

The road to XHIS…….

This is going to sound terribly stereotypical but one of the many reasons I love living in Shaanxi province is the potatoes! Now can you guess where I come from? I will tell you later. My journey to work each day is a very short one, but my journey to Xi’an has been a long one. I hope you enjoy reading about it.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

My name is Brian Lalor and I am in my third year at Xi’an Hi-Tech International School, in Shaanxi province in China. We are a two programme IB world school and are working towards offering three of the four excellent IB programmes. Our school is small at present with only 270 students but we are at capacity and have an exciting move to a new purpose-built campus coming up in August 2017.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

Each morning I get up and travel about four minutes to school! I know, the shortest ever commute, right? Our school is situated in residential area and all of our teachers’ apartments are located around the school. We are about 30 minutes from the city center in the southern suburbs. I ride my bicycle to school each day, that is why my journey is so short.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

On my journey to school I pass through the morning market. Here local vendors sell fruit, vegetables, nuts and breads for very reasonable prices. One of the wonderful advantages to living in Xi’an is the potential to save money. It is much easier to live here when compared to other big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Our school pays for our apartment, flights, international health insurance and gives us a monthly allowance for living overseas. Before coming to Xi’an I worked in Ha Noi for nine years, and in Jakarta before that. Each city has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantages living in Xi’an are the standard of healthcare and the bad pollution in Winter.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

Some of the wonders Xi’an has to offer are as follows. We are literally just a short 25-minute car ride to the beautiful Qin Ling Mountains which provides us with a great way to escape the heat in summer and some lovely snowy landscapes in winter. Another highly attractive feature unique to this city, is its amazing millenary history, with archaeological sites found literally in every part of town, with the city wall being one of its main attractions. And who hasn’t heard of the world-famous “Terra Cota Warriors”. Xi’an was once the ancient capital of China so as you can imagine there are lots to see in and around the community.

If you have not guessed it I am born and bread Irish. Oh those lovely potatoes! The food here is incredible and you could literally have a potato dish, every day of the week. Some noodles are even made out of potato here!

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in China?  Out of a total of 165 international schools there are 110 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Beijing BISS International School (Beijing, China)36 Comments

Beijing City International School (Beijing, China)31 Comments

Beijing International Bilingual Academy (Beijing, China)35 Comments

International School of Beijing (Beijing, China)25 Comments

Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)95 Comments

Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China)43 Comments

Changchun American International School (Changchun, China)50 Comments

QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China)64 Comments

Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China)48 Comments

Guangzhou Huamei International School (Guangzhou, China)48 Comments

Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China)45 Comments

American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)24 Comments

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)69 Comments

Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China)39 Comments

Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China)34 Comments

Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China)104 Comments

Canadian International School Kunshan (Kunshan, China)28 Comments

Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan, China)41 Comments

Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China)48 Comments

British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China)35 Comments

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)86 Comments

Shanghai American School – Puxi (Shanghai, China)39 Comments

Shanghai Community International School (Shanghai, China)33 Comments

Shanghai Rego International School (CLOSED) (Shanghai, China)74 Comments

Shanghai United International School (Shanghai, China)40 Comments

Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)204 Comments

Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)27 Comments

Buena Vista Concordia International School (Shenzhen, China)39 Comments

International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (Shenzhen, China)26 Comments

QSI International School of Shekou (Shenzhen, China)20 Comments

Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)47 Comments

Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China)54 Comments

EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China)49 Comments

Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China)54 Comments

Zhuhai International School (Zhuhai, China)59 Comments

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Highlighted Articles

International school student numbers rise in Shenzhen

January 13, 2012


The number of students enrolling in international schools in Shenzhen had risen significantly this year (2011).

Several schools, such as Shekou International School, Shenzhen American International School and Nanshan International School, had increased enrolments by about 30 percent, the schools said.

The International School of Sino-Canada (ISSC) had increased enrolments to about 300 this year, almost doubling last year’s figure.

Almost 700 had enrolled at Shekou International School, 30 percent more than last semester.

Most of the students were aged between 2 and 17 and from countries and regions such as the United States, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

The increases were mainly due to a sharp rise in the number of foreigners and their families settling in Shenzhen and the increasingly high quality of the city’s international schools.

Several new international schools had opened this year, including Buena Vista Concordia International School (BCIS) which opened Aug. 19, and the international department at Shenzhen Foreign Languages School is to open soon.

“We had high expectations about the future development of the school due to an increasing demand for international schools,” said Linda Coate, director of the admissions and public relations department of BCIS.

Meanwhile, more than 1.3 million students started the new semesters at public and private schools Thursday. Among these, 270,000 children of migrant workers had been accepted by public primary and middle schools, the city education bureau said.

According to government policy, all students with Shenzhen hukou and more than 500,000 qualified non-hukou students at primary and junior high schools did not need to pay tuition fees.

There were nine new public schools in the city, including five primary schools and four middle schools. They were mainly in Longgang and Bao’an districts and Guangming and Pingshan new zones.

The city planned to build 23 new schools in these areas in five years, providing about 38,000 school seats, the bureau said.

Taken from Shenzhen Daily by Wang Yuanyuan, Gu Yanwen

Currently, there are 6 international schools listed in Shenzhen on International School Community:
Shekou International School
QSI International School of Shekou
Green Oasis School
Shenzhen American International School
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen
Buena Vista Concordia International School

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Comment Topic Highlight

Which type of climate do you ideally look for when living abroad?

July 16, 2020


Many people would love to be living next to the Mediterranean Sea. It truly has one of the most perfect climates. Not too cold in the winter, and nice, very warm in the summers (not to mention a lot of sun!). However, not all of us are so lucky to work at an international school there. Plus, typically the salary and benefits are lower there, so that is not ideal.

Do you think to rather take a job in Moscow, Russia? You can probably make a lot of money, but you will need to be prepared for a cold, dark and snowy winter for many months.

How about a stint on a tropical island like Curaçao or the Bahamas? Many teachers are curious about the island life, but some who take jobs there don’t last for more than 1-2 years; too isolating and hard/expensive to even get off the island.

As we’ve stated before, when you search for jobs at international schools, you will need to consider a number of factors like: money, career, location, love life, weather, etc. These are all pretty important when deciding to live abroad, but which ones are more important than the others for you?

We can only be so lucky to find a place that meets our wishes in all the factors, but that rarely happens.

So, if you had a few offers to work in different cities and countries around the world, would you prioritize the city that had the most ideal weather and climate for you? Maybe after working for 10-15 years in a cold climate, you will finally choose the school that is on the Mediterranean Sea!

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of the host city’s weather year round. In this comment topic, our members can share what their experience has been working at various international schools around the world. There are a total of 604 comments (July 2020) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in this specific comment topic (one out of the 66 in total) called – “Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“In general the temperature is very temperate. The monsoon is long and will last from July- October. Winter is also cold with January being the coldest month. The school is generally closed for a good part of December and all of Jan so that you miss the worst of the cold…” – Woodstock School (Mussoorie, India) – 142 Total Comments

“Generally speaking, the weather is very pleasant in Shenzhen. August (when new teachers have just landed) tends to be sticky and hot so be mentally prepared for that but it gets better in Sept/Oct. January tends to be the coldest, and can go down to as low as 7 at night. In other words, you need a variety of clothes…” –
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen
(Shenzhen, China) – 88 Comments

“Doha is hot and dry. The weather is intensely hot in May, June July and August. Sept tends to be humid and October and November tend to have a few wet or cloudy days. The temperature then eases for the winter period. December is often 20-25 daily and around 15-20 at night which can feel quite chilly. January and February stay quite cold but the heat begins to return in March and April…” – The English Modern School (Doha) (Doha, Qatar) – 75 Total Comments

“Spring is short, maybe 2 months, same for autumn. The weather in these seasons is lovely. Summer is from May to September and it is HOT. Humidity will be 90%+. You will want to leave in the summer and you have to use AC throughout these months. Winter is 3 months and can be cold. Air quality usually declines during the winter and the wind direction changes and blows the pollution down from Beijing. I have an electric blanket on my bed as most apartments only have AC for heating and it is expensive and ineffecient….” – Lycee Francais de Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 38 Comments

“The weather is pretty great year-round. Rainy season lasts from May-ish until November time, but largely this only affects the evening with large thunderstorms etc. Outside these months, you can rely on weeks of no rain, lots of sunshine etc. Even in rainy season, the days are usually sunny and hot…” – Edron Academy A.C (El Colegio Britanico) (Edron Academy A.C (El Colegio Britanico) – 14 Comments

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