Internationalism in Schools – a Self-Study Guide

The Self-Study Guide is accessible and usable for new and long-established schools, public, private and international and national Schools.

To provide some structure the “Guide” offers a general context which the ISA believes will apply to many if not all Schools. Furthermore, this general structure may apply in its entirety to some Schools but only partially to others.

One fundamental aspect of the “Guide” is that it allows a School to speak to and for itself. There are no external criteria to be met, nor any measurements or assessments either of the process or of the outcome. Each School may assume genuine ownership of the “Guide”, of how it is put into practice and of how to respond to its outcomes.
Please see also associated information under the heading ISA Consultancy Services.

How to get the Guide?

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Table of contents

1. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2. The aims of the International Schools Association
3. The Purpose of the Self-Study Guide
4. Development of the Self-Study Guide
5. Nature of the Self-Study Guide
6. Structure of the Self-Study Guide
7. Use of the Self-Study Guide
8. Guidance and support
9. Recognition by the International Schools Association

Self-Study Areas and Sub-Areas

Area 1: School values

Area 2: Curriculum and teaching practices

2.1 Curriculum
2.2 Teaching practices
2.3 Curricular materials

Area 3: The School Communities

3.1 School and community
3.2 School and students
3.3 School and family
3.4 School and teachers

Area 4: School Management

4.1 Governance
4.2 Management, administrative personnel, secretarial and support staff
4.3 Admissions procedures
4.4 Public relations
4.5 Facilities

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The International Schools Association accepts, adheres to and wishes to promote the principles and values expressed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A(111) of 10 December 1948. See

The Association expects that each School which undertakes this Self Study will in the same spirit accept these principles and values and that they will form the underlying basis of its definition of internationalism

The aims of the International Schools Association are:

  • to encourage cooperation among international and internationally-minded schools;
  • to facilitate or undertake the study of educational issues of interest to such schools;
  • to encourage the creation of new international schools;
  • to nurture the interest of national schools in internationalism as a means of improving international understanding.

The purpose of the Self-Study Guide

This Guide has been developed to help Schools to:

  1. define their understanding of the term “international” in education
  2. use such a definition to reflect upon a number of areas of School life and work
  3. identify those areas which they may wish to improve
  4. review the original definition in the light of the outcomes of the study

Development of the Self-Study Guide

Within the community of international education there is a continuous and constructive debate about what “internationalism” and “international-mindedness” mean and comprise. Many worthy attempts have been made at describing the essential characteristics of these concepts but none so far have been accepted as definitive or fully inclusive. Into this dynamic environment the ISA offers its “Self-Study Guide”. It avoids both definition and a definitive tone and centres upon a process of analysis, reflection and action.

ISA guidance and support

The ISA will respond to all requests for help in interpreting and applying this Self-Study Guide by entering into e-mail or standard correspondence, through telephone discussion and, upon specific request, by visiting the School. Please contact

Recognition by the International Schools Association

Schools who wish their application of this Self Study Guide to be recognised by the ISA will have to show that their definition of internationalism or international mindedness:

  1. clearly reflects the values and principles embodied in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as noted above, and

  2. has been adhered to and applied consistently throughout the Self Study.

The beginnings of this “Self-Study Guide” can be found some ten years ago. A then senior member of the ISA Board set about devising a questionnaire for schools which was designed to provide, within each school context, some idea of the extent of their internationalism or international-mindedness. A number of versions of the questionnaire were created and trialled, and in 2001 the ISA adopted the questionnaire as a major development project. The SEK International University in Chile was commissioned to prepare a draft of a more comprehensive and expanded document, a task completed in both Spanish and English and the first edition of a booklet was published by SEK International University Editions in 2001. Over the past four years the ISA has consulted and collaborated with a variety of international organisations to continue to refine the “Guide”. In 2004 several international schools generously took part in an evaluation of the “Guide” which was carried out by the International Baccalaureate Research Unit at Bath University. The outcome of these consultations, collaborations and evaluation is what follows.

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