International Schools in Europe: embracing change for flexible futures

Top international schools already have a reputation for moving with the times. Their response to the pandemic proves why. Find out more in our webinar.

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The coronavirus pandemic and the UK’s exit from the European Union have changed how families and employers both think about relocation and international mobility.Watch the webinar
With education and international schools a key consideration in deciding where to put down roots, and hybrid working practices and international commutes making it possible to work from anywhere, school options for parents are perhaps wider than ever before.The webinar, International Schools Embracing Change & Regional Ecosystems: Admissions & Communication Perspective, which is part of Relocate Global’s Spring Great International Education & Schools Fair, showcases how international schools in Europe are adapting their offer to meet the demands of internationally mobile families.Joining Fiona Murchie at the Great International Education and Schools’ Fair webinar to talk about how international schools are building on lessons from the pandemic to deliver an international education fit for an uncertain future for the next generation, are:

Self-determination during times of change

Speaking ahead of the webinar on Wednesday 17 March, Kate des Places of Marymount School says that the past year has really shown the value of an international education. “When we went into lockdown what was most striking was the was ability of the entire community to react very quickly.“We’ve talked a lot about the flexibility and adaptability innate to international environments,” continues Kate des Places. “One of the biggest growth factors that has come out of something relatively traumatic is this ability of our children to self-navigate in a world where the future seems more unmapped than ever. For international schools, it has shown us that we really do have our place in the world.”For teachers, the shift to remote learning during the pandemic has also been a valuable opportunity to find new ways of working. “From the move to online, a lot of children have learned different strengths they didn’t know they had,” says Cynthia Davis Hall of the American School of Milan. “In turn this had made teachers reflect more on their teaching practices and reach out more to colleagues about what other schools are doing and what they are doing in their own classroom.”

Opportunity to try new approaches

The pandemic has made the world smaller in many important respects. Yet through technology, strong and connected communities and peer-to-peer learning, the international schools world has become even bigger.“Our community all of a sudden become a lot larger and able to incorporate a lot more people than before,” says Michaela Seeger, Director of Community Relations, Zurich International School. “The pandemic meant we had to try and could try things we wouldn’t have done before.”One outcome from the pandemic and the move online is that alumni events have become much more accessible. This has opened the door for new approaches to careers days that would have happened, to happen more quickly.

What parents want and the employers’ role

A deeper integration within the school community, seen across all aspects like health and wellbeing, is also playing out externally. “The world is changing, and we have seen a lot of changes in our customer base and the companies with which we interact,” says Michaela Seeger.“Eighteen months ago when our new director joined, we embarked on a new strategy. The first step is we interviewed lots of stakeholders and asked what they liked, what they shouldn’t change and where we the opportunities for growth. A month ago we launched our strategic plan.“What is key is that our parents, our companies, would like us to reach out more from our bubble and be more connected to our host countries. One of the things we will be doing going forward is to strengthen our German language programme and to really make sure we have excellent relationships with companies in Zurich so our students can have internships and speakers.“The world has changed so much, and it is our corporations that can help us prepare our students for how it has to be in the future.”

Languages rise up the agenda

The Zurich International School is now introducing a multi-track approach to languages to develop this rootedness in the local community and as a global citizen. Such responsive approaches support families’ own language portraits and future needs – such as the length of stay in country and the opportunity either to transition to the Swiss system or international school elsewhere.This renewed focus on language as a passport to future opportunities and connection with the local community is a trend Cynthia Davis Hall has also seen at the American School of Milan. “The school has always offered strong language track for Italian, including a track for native speakers. It has always been very important for families that come here.
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“We are now seeing a lot of international Italian families moving back to Milan even if the children have never lived in Italy. They definitely require an educational environment like ours, where they can continue their Italian language study if they want, but at the same time continue their international education delivered in English they have had their whole lives.”Local families too are increasingly aware of the benefits of a bilingual education. “There are French families who recognise that teletravail suddenly the world is up for grabs and you need to render your children really competitive,” says Kate des Places of Marymount International School Paris. “They really want this anglophone international education for their children.”

Access more of Relocate Global’s International Education and Schools Guides, Great International Education & Schools' Fair webinar recordings and articles.


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