The British International School Safeguarding Coalition

Colin Bell looks at a new global coalition supporting safeguarding initiatives in British International schools.

The importance of international safeguarding

Over the last 10 years safeguarding and child protection has become a central concern for all international schools. The work of the long esatablished, excellent and very active International Task Force on Child Protection (ITFCP) has been central to this major steps forward in this area and in November 2023 at the recent AOBSO conference, a specifically British international counterpart was announced: the British International School Safeguarding Coalition (BISSC). This groundbreaking collaborative coalition for associations that represent British international schools overseas, now complements the ongoing excellent work of the ITFCP.

Both have a common purpose – to reduce risk to children and young people worldwide.

Membership and aims

BISSC is, essentially, a federation of seven key organisations that represent high quality British schools across the globe. These are: the Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO), British Schools in the Middle East (BSME), Council of British International Schools (COBIS), Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA), Latin American Heads Conference (LAHC), National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS), and The Safeguarding Alliance (TSA).

The primary aim of BISSC is to create and promote a unified, strategic, and coordinated approach to strengthening safeguarding systems on an international scale within British-style schools. The coalition brings together educators, administrators, and safeguarding experts with a shared commitment and passion for driving forward global safeguarding standards.

The participating organisations, each a respected entity in the field of British international education, are joining forces to tackle the pressing issues surrounding safeguarding. By leveraging the collective strength of these associations, BISSC will work collaboratively to drive positive change in safeguarding practices.

BISSC priorities

Firstly, BISSC will lobby the UK government to provide greater and more effective safeguarding support and guidance to the British international school sector. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • The establishment of the International Teaching Regulation Agency (ITRA)
  • The establishment of the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme for International Schools (MDSIS)
  • The creation of a shared resource hub for British international schools.
  • The strengthening of partnerships safeguarding between BISSC, the UK Government and regulators.

The decision to form BISSC is a testament to the recognition that safeguarding is a critical issue that demands a collective effort. By pooling resources, expertise, and experiences from diverse regions, BISSC aims to address the multifaceted challenges associated with safeguarding in international schools.

Through active engagement with policymakers and elected representatives, BISSC intends to advocate global action to address safeguarding risks and concerns. By fostering dialogue at the highest levels, the coalition seeks to ensure that the protection of the most vulnerable members of the international school community remains at the forefront of decision-making.

Six core principles

The initiative will involve the implementation of six core principles to guide the work of the BISSC:

1. Collaboration and Partnership 

Collaboration is at the heart of our commitment to safeguarding. We firmly believe that by working together with like-minded organisations, regulators, governments, specialists, and communities, we can create a more powerful and effective force for change. Our commitment to collaboration extends to sharing knowledge, resources, and best practices to enhance the protection of vulnerable individuals. Together, we will grow a stronger culture in safeguarding.

2. Pioneering change

We are committed to relentlessly lobby for change in safeguarding. BISSC will work to advocate for stronger forms of protection, legal reforms, and heightened awareness. We believe that by actively engaging with policymakers and advocating for safeguarding improvements, we can make a lasting impact on the safety and well-being of vulnerable communities, ensuring a brighter, more secure future for all.

3. Sharing best practice

We believe that by openly sharing our knowledge and experience, we can empower individuals and other organisations to create safer environments for vulnerable communities. Through this commitment, we aim to foster a collective dedication to safeguarding, ensuring that the best practices are accessible to all, and ultimately, improving the well-being of those we serve.

4. Growing a culture of safeguarding

Our commitment to safeguarding excellence is embedded at the core of the new coaltion. We will prioritise continuous training, education, and peer support to nurture a culture of vigilance and care. Through ongoing learning and collaboration, we empower practitioners to recognise and respond effectively to safeguarding concerns. This commitment extends to our wider community, where we aim to inspire and support others in their journey towards effective safeguarding, ensuring that the protection and well-being of all remains paramount.

5. Child-Centred Approach

We pledge to always prioritise the well-being and protection of children. Their physical, emotional, and psychological safety is at the core of everything we do. We are dedicated to creating an environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive without fear or harm, abuse or neglect.

6. Impact Measurement

We maintain that safeguarding has no finish line. We will measure our impact, gather data, and evaluate our initiatives to ensure they are effective and meet the needs of the communities we serve. We will regularly review and enhance our objectives in light of evolving best practices, legal requirements, and emerging risks. We will learn from our experiences and from the broader safeguarding community.


The launch of BISSC is a clear example of a cross-association collaboration, representing international safeguarding. Since the launch in November 2023, we have been so encouraged by all the different organisations wanting to contribute, engage and be a part of this new coalition.

In a short space of time, we have already seen the immediate, short-term impact and we now focus on the long-term impact that BISSC can make on international safeguarding.

It is evident that BISSC represents a crucial turning point in the realm of British international education. The coalition’s commitment to a unified and strategic approach to safeguarding underscores the global nature of the challenges faced by educators and institutions.

By working together, these influential organisations are paving the way for a safer and more secure environment for students in international schools around the world.


As an integral part of the coalition, COBIS plays a vital role in contributing to safeguarding efforts. COBIS is already known for its commitment to establishing and maintaining high safeguarding standards within its member schools. We are proud of our comprehensive safeguarding resources and policies, designed to guide schools in creating safe and secure environments for their students. We are honoured to be part of BISSC, and take pride in this crucial global initiative.

Looking ahead, myself and all others connected to BISSC believe that we can create a lasting impact, to ensure that safeguarding remains a top priority and that every child in a British international school and other international school contexts are provided with a gold standard learning environment in which they feel cared for and protected.

As BISSC develops and grows, each of you, the schools, organisations and learning communities you represent  are invited to support and help amplify BISSC’s vision, core principles and lobbying activities, Stronger together.


Colin Bell is the CEO of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS),

 For more news about the work of BISSC, please see:



FEATURE IMAGE: Jannoon028 istockphoto

Support images – kindly provided by Colin.