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“British Schools Overseas” (BSOs) are schools that have been inspected under the DfE-endorsed system developed for the purpose and which is quality assured by Ofsted. BSME was heavily involved in the adaptation of the draft regulations to suit an overseas context and the Middle East is the most active region in terms of the number of inspections: at the time of writing, more than 40% of the world’s BSOs are also BSME schools.

The framework is based on the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) system, used to inspect the vast majority of UK-based independent schools, but modified to meet the context of schools operating under different legal and educational jurisdictions. Judgments under these systems are comparable and so BSO schools rated, for example, as “Outstanding” are at a comparable standard to UK-independent schools with the same grading.

Five inspectorates have been given the authority to carry out BSO inspections: ISI; Tribal Education; PENTA International; G2G Education; Cambridge Education and CfBT Education.

Schools that have been inspected under the BSO regulations are accorded certain benefits, which, it is anticipated, will increase over time. Currently, BSO schools:

  • may call themselves BSO schools
  • are listed on the DfE website, together with their inspection reports
  • can hire and induct Newly Qualified Teachers from the United Kingdom
  • can work with graduate teachers, who do not have a teaching qualification, to help them qualify for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through the Assessment Only route
  • are eligible to attend the annual BSO conference (held in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona in the first two years, with Hong Kong the venue for the 3rd conference in November 2014)

BSME continues to be active in lobbying for more support for BSOs – and, of course, all BSME schools. One initiative close to fruition will be realized when the UK government has obtained world-wide protection of the BSO brand – a process it is pursuing, following intensive BSME lobbying, under the “Paris Convention”.

The continuing development of BSOs worldwide has led to an agreement, at the BSO conference in Barcelona in late 2013, to form a body (tentatively the “Association of British Schools Overseas” – ABSO). BSME’s view is to encourage this, but in a manner that ensures that a BSO body is a symbiotic partner with BSME and not a competitor! This tenet (applied also to the relationship with the other regional organisations – LAHC, FOBISIA and NABSS) was agreed by heads at the Conference to be fundamental. BSME has proposed that the new body’s remit be the sharing of good pedagogical and operational practices between BSOs and also adds its weight to the lobbying power of all overseas schools. If this remit is accepted, then there will be no conflict of interest in the case of Heads who wish to contribute to the development of both bodies.

The existence of so many BSOs within BSME adds considerably to the lobbying strength of BSME and our recognition by DfE and other UK government ministries. As Chairman, I encourage as many of our schools as possible to undergo a BSO inspection – it will surely, over time, become an important mark of quality, alongside the strength of the BSME “brand”, that will be recognized by parents looking for a school for their children and to teachers seeking the best places in which to work.

Current BSME / BSO schools are listed below, followed by further documentation about BSO and its development; the NQT induction scheme; the Assessment Only route to Qualified Teacher Status and BSME’s role in the evolution of these initiatives.

Ed Goodwin OBE

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