10 Characteristics of a Great International School

A group of students posing for a picture

Limitless opportunities for the future, exposure to new cultures and lived experiences, exponential personal growth, these are some of the many benefits that accompany gaining admission to an international school. This type of education helps your children become independent through innovative course work and experiential learning.  

As you begin your research into possible international schools, understanding what makes an education exceptional might be confusing. To help you cut through the clutter, here is a list of 10 characteristics that make a great international school. 

1. Academic Excellence

One of the reasons parents are so quick to choose an international school is the international curriculum used to educate your children, such as the challenging International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. 

The IB Programme at the International School of Tanganyika (IST) nurtures a love of learning and inquiry in students. Allowing students to increase their knowledge base, demonstrate their comprehension and then act upon what they’ve learned.

Over the almost 40 years of teaching the IB Programme at IST, we’ve come to understand how best to ensure students leave the school ready for a successful future. Through this curriculum, your children will become:

  • Inquirers
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Risk-takers 
  • Knowledgeable 
  • Principled 
  • Caring
  • Open-minded
  • Well-balanced
  • reflective

Following graduation, 95 percent of students receive admission to four-year university programmes or colleges.

2. Global Educational Networks

Students connect with others both locally and worldwide through our connections to global networks. These provide your children with the opportunity to participate in activities that expand perspective and connects them to peers around the world. 

3. Local Partnerships 

Partnering with local businesses and organizations can drastically improve a student’s experience by giving them opportunities outside the school doors.

These partnerships ensure students have every opportunity possible, such as through volunteer work in the local community or sports affiliations where students have the opportunity to compete globally and face a new level of challenge. 

4. Commitment to Local Community 

A school that has a commitment to the local community helps inspire students to use their voice for the greater good. 

Students have many opportunities to engage in service work. This not only benefits those around them but also the students themselves as this type of volunteering plants pivotal skills necessary for a successful life.

5. Personalized Learning 

A personalized learning curriculum is pivotal to student success. The way we learn as individuals is as unique as we are; people retain information in different ways, and that is exactly how this approach to learning is tailored. 

With a personalized learning curriculum, programmes are balanced in a way that provides opportunities for each student to explore and develop in areas that they are interested in or passionate about.

6. Excellent Facilities 

Great international schools boast exceptional campuses designed in such a way as to foster interaction and collaboration. 

According to Mark Osborne, a leading educationist, school campuses should be flexible, open and provide students easy access to resources.

“In a modern learning facility, there are movable walls, flexible workspaces, more glass and the use of a learning common which is a central teaching and learning space that can be shared by several classes. These areas give all students access to what other classes are learning so that teaching and learning can be complemented and enhanced,” writes Osborne. 

This type of atmosphere inspires students to learn and supports a world-class educational experience.  

7. World Class Faculty 

A great international school recruits, faculty both locally and around the world to promote a diverse range of values and lived experiences. 

Regardless of where our teachers and support staff are from, they share four important characteristics: 

  1. They are experts in their field, often holding advanced degrees and training in core programmes such as the IB Programme. 
  2. They are committed to making the world a better place and are keen to contribute to their local community.
  3. They are willing to contribute to co-curricular programmes and are excited about sharing their passions and interests with the community.
  4. They love working with students and recognize that all students are unique individuals.

8. Dedicated Support Systems

A great international school should have excellent support systems and staff

Support staff are available to aid students in need and to work collaboratively with faculty, parents and students to develop programmes that meet the individual needs of each student.

9. Distinguished History

In order to become a great international school, an extensive history is of utmost importance. It’s longevity and sustained excellence that separates a great school from a good one. 

With more time, a school has the ability to learn, change and grow.

10. Balanced Programmes 

Through balanced programmes, each and every student has a chance to explore a variety of disciplines and identify areas they are passionate about. As mentioned above, the way we learn is as unique as we are and therefore it’s important a school has opportunities for each type of interest.

Whether it be through arts, athletics, academics, service learning or after school initiatives, balanced programmes help give your children excellent educational experiences. 

There you have it, 10 characteristics that make a great international school. If you’re in the midst of researching possible international schools for your children, you know how stressful it can be. Our new checklist outlines everything an international school should have in an easy-to-use way. Download it for free today! 

A picture with a link to the International School Checklist

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