Council of International Schools

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The Council of International Schools (CIS) is a global, non-profit, membership organisation that defines standards and supports the continuous improvement of international education through an integrated portfolio of services. Core service areas are School Support and Evaluation, Educator Recruitment, and Higher Education. In addition, CIS has developed an Affiliated Consultant Network, confers an International Student Award, facilitates networking and professional development in all service areas, and hosts various, annual conferences and events worldwide.

CIS membership comprises more than 680 primary and secondary schools, 490 higher education colleges and universities, and represents 109 countries. All members must demonstrate a fundamental commitment to providing students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to pursue their lives as global citizens. Educators, School Leaders, counselors and students can also registers as individuals with CIS to benefit from Recruitment and Higher Education Services.

The CIS offices are located in Leiden, the Netherlands, and in Ithaca, New York, USA.

Member Schools can be variously defined as international, national, non-profit, government, company or proprietary. Staff and students are multinational; the primary language of instruction is in most cases English, although some schools offer bilingual or tri-lingual programmes. The curriculum usually offered is Western in format but, adapted for the international market, e.g. the International Baccalaureate (IB), the International General Certification of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and Advanced Placement (AP), among other international models. The financial set-up ranges from government or company funded to the more typical, tuition fee-based. Usually an international school is established for the children of parents who have temporarily been assigned to work or live in a different country, but national students are increasingly attending schools offering international programmes, as their parents value the increased post-secondary educational and career opportunities resulting from an international education. Member schools must be actively committed to self-analysis and improvement and participate in evaluation.


CIS' core services were originally offered as part of an organisation called the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), which was founded in 1965. A decision was taken to divide the ECIS portfolio of services and form a separate organisation to manage the Accreditation, Higher Education and Educator Recruitment service and in July 2003, CIS was established. Subsequent to the split, the two organisations maintained a close professional relationship, even sharing an office in Petersfield, UK but eventually both organisations moved to new locations in 2011. CIS relocated to Leiden, The Netherlands and consolidated the Petersfield office and an office that was located in Madrid.

School Support and Evaluation[edit]

CIS provides member schools with a rigorous yet supportive, on-going, standards-based evaluation vehicle designed to drive continuous improvement. Schools undergoing this process must write an extensive Self-Study report involving the whole school community. Volunteer peer evaluators from other CIS member schools then visit the school for a week to evaluate the school in light of its Self-Study report and against the CIS standards of Accreditation. The team complete a Visiting Team report on their findings. Both reports inform the decision whether to award the status of Accreditation to the school.

The status of Accredited demonstrates the school's commitment to high quality international education to the school community and the outside world.

In order to maintain the Accredited status, school must continuously engage in this evaluation process. One full cycle lasts ten years.

Upon specific request by a school, CIS collaborates with other organisations involved in aspects of school evaluations such as NEASC and IBO in order to carry out a joint evaluation.

Recruitment and Leadership Search[edit]

CIS facilitates the recruitment of educational staff for positions at member schools. Educators meeting certain criteria may apply to become CIS candidates and establish a professional portfolio that is available to member schools. Candidates may access job vacancies posted by schools and have the opportunity to participate in a recruitment fair during which job interviews are conducted with representatives from member schools located globally. The London Recruitment Fair is a well-established, annual event occurring in January/February and includes various activities such as workshops and presentations.

Candidates for senior administrative positions can also register with CIS. Member schools engage CIS to lead searches for new senior administrators. The precise degree of CIS' involvement in the selection process is determined by the school in consultation with CIS.

Higher Education[edit]

CIS develops links between secondary schools and their students, and member colleges and universities. CIS organises student recruitment tours to various world regions for higher education admissions and recruitment professionals, allowing them to raise the profile of their university or college and to meet with prospective students and their parents. Higher Education members and counsellors may participate in the annual CIS Forum, a conference on international admissions and guidance topics. Smaller regional conferences involving secondary school representatives along with university admission and recruitment professionals are also hosted. CIS maintains a database of interested prospective university students, an admission and guidance listserve, to facilitate communication and share information, and collaborates with Carnegie Communications to Produce the American Colleges & Universities (AC&U) magazine containing profiles of higher education institutions.

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