The International Schools Association (ISA) was founded in Geneva in 1951 as an association under Swiss Law. It is thus the most senior organization in the world of international education and the first to be granted representative status at UNESCO. During the half century and more since its foundation the ISA has contributed to the growth of international education in numerous ways. It has sponsored the development of two of the major qualifications now in use in many international schools, namely the International Baccalaureate (IBO) Diploma and Middle Years Programmes. Additionally, it has fostered cooperation and innovation, organized conferences and brought together young people for all over the world. It has made a distinguished contribution to the development of international education.

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The world of international education is very different from when the ISA was founded. The qualifications that the ISA originated and sponsored have been further developed by the IBO. Other organizations such as Council of International Schools (COIS) now exist to accredit international schools and provide services to support them.

What therefore should be the role of the ISA in this new world of international education? This has been the theme of discussions in the ISA Board over the last year with a view to considering how best ISA might continue to serve international schools in this new world.

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In addition to the continuation and enhancement of the current ISA Activities and Services, the Board of the Association has decided to develop a new ISA role. One that fulfills the requirement in its Statutes “to provide advisory and consultative services to international Schools” and “to promote the establishment of new international schools”.

Many new international schools, or schools aspiring to be international are springing up all over the world. Commercial organisations already exist to fund such ventures and the ISA, as a not-for-profit body, has no wish to compete in this field. There is a clear demand, however, for a wide range of educational support for these new schools and, in particular, for guidance on the development of a genuine internationalism in the sense in which this is understood within the ISA.

This support and guidance will be offered by a new ISA Consultancy Service. One key feature of this Consultancy Service will be advising schools on the use of the new ISA publication “Internationalism in Schools – a Self-Study Guide”. This “Guide” is designed to help established schools reflect on their internationalism and to introduce new schools to the ideas and practices in internationalism in education. Those schools which successfully work through the “Guide”, with or without consultant support, will be awarded an ISA Certificate of Internationalism. Further information on this new Consultancy Service is available on the ISA website: www.isaschools.org

The ISA will charge no fees for such Consultancy Services to fully subscribed member Schools. For other schools wishing to use these Services, fees will be fixed by agreement. As the Association is a not-for-profit body any revenues arising will be used to provide educational services to member schools such as financial support for students to attend Youth Leadership Seminars and for teachers to attend other ISA Seminars.

Further development of ISA Educational Consultancy Services (IECS) will be announced in the future.

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The ISA Board has reviewed the services it provides to member schools. These will henceforth include:

  • continuation of its successful Youth Leadership Seminars which bring together young people from around the world to explore issues of global significance.
  • support for youth cooperation through the activities if the Geneva-based Earth Focus Foundation and its environmental magazine Earth Focus.
  • free consultancy support for member schools using the ISA’s new publication “Internationalism in Schools – a Self-Study Guide”. This publication, developed in association with the University of Bath, offers a means of reflecting upon the nature of internationalism within schools.
  • a biennial Conference to be held in significantly different regions of the world and on themes which relate both to the region itself and to a wider global interpretation of the theme.
  • an annual Seminar on a key theme in international education and focusing on fundamental issues linking education and society. The Seminars will be held each January in Geneva in association with the International School of Geneva. The first of these, on “Schools as Cultural Crossroads” took place in January 2006 and the second in January 2007 on the topic of “Languages in Education”.
  • enhanced, interactive access to the ISA website to promote member schools development of inter-school contacts and to encourage the sharing of both issues and examples of good practice.
  • access to the ISA Oral Examinations in English.


Details of ISA Consultancy, and Membership together with an application form for non-members are available on the ISA website www.isaschools.org.

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The next ISA International Conference will be held in 2008 as the Association has recently adopted a policy of biennial Conferences. Each of these will be located in a different area of the world and each will treat a different global theme which has a particular relevance to the location.

The cost of attending such Conferences will, with this timetable, not be born annually. Similarly sufficient time will be given for the planning and preparation of such high profile events.

Proposals to host an ISA International Conference including a brief summary of the proposed theme are welcomed from all Member Schools.

For 2008 such proposals should be forwarded to the ISA Office in Florida ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by May 15, 2007.

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Education is the best instrument to build a better world. Living in peace is achieved by working together and celebrating our cultural diversity and similarity.

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