Caroline Babin; Jonna Reinders; Jikke ter Haar; and Thomas Cienski

The History of inclusion in International Schools

The concept of inclusion should be inseparable from the idea of international education but that has not always been in the case.

After the intolerance and global separation as a result of World War II, there was a diplomatic boom. This sudden and rapid spread of diplomats around the world created a need for a place where the children of these envoys could be educated in both the language and culture of their home country (Powell, 2013). However, these new establishments, called international schools today, were meant to be much more than just a school for diplomat children. These schools, at first largely populated by only a few nationalities  grew more diverse, adding families students from a wide variety of countries and cultures. This development of these increasingly multicultural, multinational and multilingual communities was the beginning of the inclusive journey for many international schools .

Initially, most international schools didn’t admit students with special needs, stating that they had neither the necessary equipment nor experts with the training required to be able to support such students. Fortunately, over the course of many years, a new vision of inclusiveness took root in the international community. The vision was that international schools should serve all family members, including those with special learning needs (Bartlett, 2020).

This idea is based on the belief that it is the school that should be able to adapt to the child, rather than the other way around. With developments like this, many international schools began to work towards more inclusion; some by creating basic learning support programs, others by hiring a team of professionals to support children with special learning needs.

Currently, the push for inclusive education is slowly gaining momentum, even though many schools still consider a strict admittance policy to be a source of prestige. Luckily, organizations such as New Frontiers for Inclusion educate and advocate for inclusion and help international schools understand why and how they can make inclusive. International communities a reality. Furthermore, international schools tend to serve the country’s elite, and educating the students in an academically diverse environment can have a positive effect on their future as national and global leaders (Thompson, 2009).

The interviews and survey answers in this chapter should provide insight into the current progress of many different schools on the road towards inclusion. Each institution is different, and although the majority is progressing towards inclusion, their growth still depends on all the members of their community, from the administrators, to the teachers, to the students and their parents.


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by Caroline Babin; Jonna Reinders; Jikke ter Haar; and Thomas Cienski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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