Are international schools becoming more inclusive? A new report by ISC Research
In August 2020, ISC Research published its latest report on inclusion in international schools. The research, in collaboration with Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI), surveyed international schools just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report sheds light on how the international schools market has been adapting to the needs of all children over the past four years.
207 international schools from 69 countries participated in the research. The report shows that learning support programmes are an established part of 67% of the international schools that participated in the survey. An additional 26% of international schools consider themselves at the beginning of the journey towards inclusion, are developing programmes of support, and want to learn more.
Since the last report in 2017, there is an increase of 15.5% in the number of international schools with an EAL (English as an additional language) programme. A growing number of schools (an increase of 11% since 2017) report that students who require both EAL and learning support are served through the SEN (special educational needs) programme.
Over 80% of the international schools surveyed said they have a high incidence of students within one or more of the following categories: high functioning autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and/or executive functioning issues, disabilities of speech, language or communication, and disabilities of reading, writing or numeracy.
Compared to the results of the inclusion research conducted in 2017, there has been an increase of over 6% (from 53.8% to 60%) in the number of schools recognising students with mental health and emotional conditions that require intervention. This percentage may increase in the wake of COVID-19.
One question in the research asked international schools to identify and prioritise the support and professional learning services they would find of most value. It suggests there is most demand for professional learning in inclusive instructive pedagogy, as well as a need for appropriate training for learning support assistants. 62% of schools said they would like their staff to participate in seminars or workshops led by inclusion professionals to improve their skills and knowledge.
As part of her conclusions in the report, Ochan Kusuma-Powell of NFI urges the global international school community to work together to develop a common language with common meaning and understanding of terms used in the area of special needs education. "Because the use of language is often context dependent, educators from one part of the world may find that language used in one setting to mean something different in another," she warns.
The Inclusion in International Schools Report 2020 is free of charge and accessible to all international schools, and organisations supporting international schools.