Comment Topic Highlight

Student Populations at International Schools: Are they Increasing or Declining?

June 27, 2021


It is a catch 22. If the student population is increasing, then you might have one or more of the following: the maximum number of students (or even a few more) allowed in each classroom, the need to build a new school building (which can take years and a lot of headaches), the school gets more money to pay for teachers and other things, etc…

If the student population is declining, then these things might happen: teachers might be made redundant, the school stops funding certain programs and decreases various budgets, maybe a better education for students as the student-to-teacher ratio might be lower, etc…

But this is the life of an international school and they should be prepared to adjust to the different waves of their student population.

Many of these waves are caused by outside forces, most recently the COVID 19 pandemic. The pandemic caused many families to relocate due to lost jobs or many companies to close their sites in the country.

So international school teachers need to be aware of these waves and be prepared when they go up and down.

When you first arrive at the school, they might be in a wave of increasing student population. Things are going great. Budgets for teachers are ample and ready to use. PD opportunities off-campus are available for teachers to apply for. And most importantly, teachers are getting paid and on time.

After a few years at this school, the student population could easily be declining and teachers could be experiencing quite a different situation.

Before taking a job at an international school, it might be a good idea to ask about the predictions about the future of their student population.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of maternity benefits. 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 538 comments (June 2021) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers on this specific comment topic (one out of the 66 in total) called – “Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why.”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“Our population has been relatively consistent over the past few years. We did not lose as many students as we had anticipated during the height of the Corona pandemic…” – International School of Zanzibar (Zanzibar City, Tanzania) – 67 Total Comments

“Student enrollment has slightly increased over the past few years. The reputation of the school in the community for the past 40 years combined with its connection with ARAMCO has helped maintain its enrollment numbers…” – Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) – 103 Comments

“Increasing! Due to covid-19 border closures and the simple fact that Vietnam is much safer than, say, the US or Canada. There has been ample effort to market the school as per the HoS’s partner designs. There is no waiting list and the doors are opened to any and all that are able to come…” – American International School (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 212 Total Comments

“Growth has been slight but steady for a number of years. Enrollment is dependent also on the oil, gas and mineral industries, and they can fluctuate. There were expectations of rapid, high growth recently, but that all changed with the pandemic. In the summer of 2020 the school lost 45% of its enrollment. Some of that has come back as of December, but we’re still down 33% from where we expected to be…” – American International School of Mozambique(Maputo, Mozambique) – 45 Comments

“Student population increased significantly since the school moved to their own building. However, since March 2020, the student population has declined because of Covid-19 situation. Mostly, the parents of the preprimary students are reluctant to attend online classes and seemed to have decided to take a year break and see how things go in 2021…” – Australian International School (Dhaka) (Dhaka, Bangladesh) – 25 Comments

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News Reports about your Host Country

COVID 19 Update: What is the Current Situation and Well-being of Staff like at 4 International Schools?

November 30, 2020


International school teachers around the world are all going through challenging times at their schools. The range of experiences goes from complete lockdowns with the government mandating remote learning for all schools to basically doing “normal” in-school teaching with only a few precautions being taken.

Regardless of what your international school is doing, COVID 19 is and has been taking its toll on all stakeholders: teachers, parents, students, etc.

We asked some ISC members about their experience related to their well-being at the moment living in these days of COVID 19 and lockdowns.

We also asked them…

1. What is the current state of COVID 19 in your city and country?
2. How is that current state affecting your school and teaching?
3. Because of this state, how is your well-being and the well-being of the students and staff at your school?
4. What is your international school doing to help and be supportive to all stakeholders during this time?

The American School of London (London, United Kingdom)

The numbers are currently rising and we are currently in a one-month lockdown (although you wouldn’t know it by the number of people you see).

I have appreciated the school’s steps to keep us all safe – strict bubbles, SD, increased cleaning & mask-wearing from K-12. We have had a few cases, with the majority in the upper years, but in general, they have been mostly linked to outside contact. The school has an excellent track & trace system & I feel very confident in their protocols. Admin has been very gracious & understanding that stress levels are higher and have changed PD days into holidays. I feel ASL cares a lot about my well-being.

That being said, enrollment has dropped and there is some obvious financial strain. There is a lot of mistrust in the UK government as their policies have been very inconsistent and people are fed up. Local schools do not require masks and people are not really adhering to social distancing. Cafes, restaurants, etc. are only open for take-out. The economic fallout will be huge and apparently take 3 years to recover.

The school has a solid continuous learning plan for teachers/students who have to isolate and it has been offered to families for 2 weeks post-winter break.

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen International School)

In Denmark, the numbers right now are at the highest they’ve been since the pandemic began, but they are staying steady at the moment and the deaths per day are low (compared to other EU countries).

Right now my school is doing in-person teaching, and we are doing “Normal +” which means we are basically doing our normal teaching, but with all the added precautions (like middle and high school teachers and students wearing masks all day, teaching teams staying in their “bubbles” throughout the day, etc.). It seems unlikely that we would go to full remote teaching or an emergency learning setup again, but we’ll see.

Because it is normal teaching pretty much, many teachers are just getting on with their teaching without too much worry, but we do have teachers that are worried and concerned. We’ve had a handful of teachers and students that have tested positive and for the most part, my school has taken the correct actions and precautions.

My school has a work environment group that looks out for the wellbeing of the staff, and they have been regularly meeting with admin to discuss the current situation and what more can we do to make sure our school is following the guidelines set out by the Danish government and how best to support teachers during these crazy times. There is some extra added pressure for classroom teachers to make sure they are doing all these extra precautions (cleaning desks, washing hands, etc.) while also doing their normal planning and lessons. It is a lot and can be overwhelming!

KIS International School (Bangkok, Thailand)

CoVid in Thailand has been very well handled. We locked down in March and the schools stayed closed until August. The borders are still closed to most outsiders. Although this is killing tourism, it is not allowing the spread of the disease. Most of our kids held up well even with the IB debacle and most graduates managed to get a place at university although most are still studying here online. At school, it is masks all around both in and out of classrooms which is a tad annoying in the heat, but most things seem to be running well. Both my wife’s school [in Thailand] and mine have been trying to help the local communities with food drives, etc.

Hope International Academy Okinawa (Okinawa, Japan)

Here in Okinawa (Japan), we are facing the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19, which is expected to bring a higher number of cases than the first two waves that we experienced last July and August. As of November 29th, we are currently on Stage 3 on Japan’s scale of the pandemic’s severity, just one level below the highest warning level of widespread infection level.

We have been fortunate thus far and have had no COVID-19 cases among our school community. We still can have “normal” days at school, so our teaching duties and practices haven’t changed. On school grounds, teachers, school staff, students, and parents wear masks at all possible times. Also, we wash hands regularly, take water breaks, and open all windows in the buildings during the day. Besides these preventive measures, we have canceled all the major school events for the next month, including Sports Day, Ice-Skating field trip, and the Parent-Teaching Conference will be a virtual event.

After experiencing one month of remote learning last April, it seems everyone in our school community is aware of how lucky we are to go to school, meet each other, and support each other in different ways. The level of collaboration and communication among teachers and staff has significantly improved. For instance, creating online groups has helped us share ideas, concerns, and, most importantly, get a sense of belonging. We are in these difficult times together.

For the last four months, we have updated our communication tools (website, blogs, Google sites) to provide more efficient and transparent communication with parents, teachers, and school staff. For instance, renewing Seesaw for School licenses to increase student and family engagement, purchasing Amazon Echo smart speaker devices for all classes to improve communication among teachers and school staff. In other words, our school has invested in updating tech tools to enhance the level of communication among stakeholders.

If you work at an international school and would like to share what it is like at your international school in a future ISC blog article, please consider joining the International School Community Advisor’s Facebook Group.

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