What parents want

What parents want
. . . when choosing an international school

 Anne Keeling looks at a recent White Paper published by ISC Research which provides insight into what parents are looking for in an international school this year.

The analysis

In most global cities, parents now have extensive education choice including a range of international schools. Why parents select an international school in preference to the other options available to them, some of which are state funded, is the discussion of a new white paper published by ISC. Research.

The white paper explains the shifts in demand for international schools over recent years, and looks at the impact of COVID-19 on school selection. It also explores the motivation behind school choice, highlighting the results of qualitative research conducted with a range of international school admissions leaders in a survey conducted in December 2020 to understand current pattern of demand.



According to the survey, a school’s ability to cater for the wellbeing of students is becoming a real priority for parents when choosing a school. 66% of the admissions staff questioned said that wellbeing support provided by a school is now considered a very important factor during their school selection. The need to support wellbeing is increasingly being recognised by many schools, with some international schools delivering outstanding wellbeing practice. ISC Research has little doubt that the impact of COVID-19 has also raised awareness of strategic wellbeing provision in schools and that schools are responding.

Provision of online learning

Another new demand by parents when considering schools is access to online learning. As the impact of COVID-19 has continued, parents have acknowledged the likelihood of repeated campus closures or isolation periods and are exploring the preparedness of this by potential schools. The white paper states that 84% of the admissions staff surveyed said their school’s online learning provision is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to prospective parents.

Safety a major factor

Other emerging questions from parents for international school admissions officers include health and safety provision, fee flexibility, and the contact time accessible between parents and their child’s teachers. Every single international school surveyed said procedures for school building sanitisation, social distancing protocols and other safety procedures are currently considered ‘important’ or ‘very important’ by parents, and many are wishing to know the details of such policies.

Fee payment plans

The field-based research team at ISC Research, who have been gathering extensive intelligence from international school leaders on the implications of COVID-19, also report in the white paper that admissions departments are having an increasing number of conversations regarding possible school fee payment plans. Understanding ways in which school fees can be paid or spread throughout the school year is likely to be a common request for some time to come.

The quality of teaching staff

Parents are becoming increasingly critical in their evaluation of potential schools. 92% of all admissions staff interviewed believe that the quality of teachers is now a very important factor to most parents when selecting an international school. However, the report states that many parents can be influenced by teacher nationalities or language skills without full consideration for teacher qualifications, experience, or their value to the school community. “The skills and experience of teachers employed by international schools are vital to maintain educational standards, and this does not always relate to their nationality,” says the white paper. 

Keeping up with the trends

Monitoring admissions trends has always been important for international schools, but with the impact of Covid, the situation has become increasingly fluid. With opportunities to meet parents in person limited, it is also more difficult to establish rapport and listen to the latest feedback. International school admissions staff and leaders may therefore find the white paper useful in providing insights about how parents are thinking this year, when physical tours and personal engagement may be limited.


Anne Keeling Communications Director | ISC Research

Data and intelligence on the world’s international schools market


UK Office   +44 (0) 2920 304996   ( UK Office   +44 (0) 7906 353863    anne.keeling@iscresearch.com   :  www.iscresearch.com   Skype Anne_Keeling



You can download a copy of the white paper here:



Feature Image: by Dika Rukmana from Pixabay