School Start Up Services

Starting an international school requires navigating an array of decisions to achieve a school’s vision and purpose. From fully customized solutions to pre-configured options, the ISS School Start Up team can apply its deep expertise and hands-on school experience to help you achieve your goal of opening a strong, vibrant school.

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New School Start Up: Visioning to Launch and Beyond

ISS New School Start Up and Management Services provides a comprehensive, customized offering that includes visioning, planning, implementation, and ongoing management of your school, which will be opened under your personalized brand name or an ISS brand. These various contracts provide deep assistance and direct management options to entrepreneurs and future owners who must navigate an intricate set of considerations and implications throughout the entire process.

These services typically include financial planning, campus design, fixtures/ (FF&E), technology planning, curriculum development, selection/procurement of instructional materials, school policy documents, staffing school leaders and teachers, creating effective teaching and learning plans, professional development, operational staff training, US accreditation support, and quality assurance. We can help create your school, honoring local culture and curricula as well as internationally-recognized curriculums such as the American curriculum (Advanced Placement® program) and International Baccalaureate® (IB) as well as the Finnish pedagogical approach.


ISS assigns a dedicated ISS Senior Leadership Team Executive to guide you through the process and will have direct access to many ISS Subject matter experts in key areas of your planning and implementation phases. In addition, our global set of benchmarking information will help inform critical choices as you create a vibrant, competitive school.

Throughout the entire process, we take an innovative, client-focused approach to help you ensure market differentiation and brand recognition for your new school. Timelines vary depending on a client’s unique needs, but this tailored solution usually takes about 24 months once you have secured land, licenses, and financial support to allow for all custom decisions. Our SISU Schools® option provides a standardized option for those seeking a streamlined option.

Visioning, Planning, and Preparing for Start Up

We delve into discovery, understanding the project purpose and goals, anticipated student population, local factors for student enrollment, and more—to create your customized plan for starting and managing a high-quality school, based on educational best practices. We focus on K-12 schools with English as the primary language of instruction but have effectively incorporated national languages, mother tongue, and an array of cultures to make a school unique and important to its community.

Whether you are considering an international boarding school or an international day school, we keep student-centered learning at the core. During this project phase, we identify your ISS Senior Leadership Executive and work with you regarding your feasibility study results, funding plan, expected financial outcomes, stakeholder needs, site visits, education plan, and other considerations, and create an action plan.


Executing the Action Plan

The proven ISS process thoughtfully addresses major action steps in preparing to open an international school and crystallizes key decision points, potential pitfalls and recommendations to keep your project on time and on budget. It begins with site evaluation and campus planning. From there, architectural plans are vetted to align with international-style education and modern-day learning environments.

The process also includes guiding governance structure, school policies and procedures and other important tasks. With experience in US-based Advanced Placement® (AP) curriculum, International Baccalaureate® (IB) curriculum and other international curricula, the ISS team will help you create a customized teaching and learning plan that is fully aligned with accreditation requirements.

You can leverage ISS’s multi-faceted services to support your school: conduct a head of school search from the best education leaders around the world and cost-effectively procure school supplies, including desks, playground equipment, uniforms, textbooks, and technology equipment.

Each Phase of the Project is Scheduled to Ensure On-Time Delivery

ISS can also help you recruit English-speaking teachers from your host country or around the world, through our expansive database of certified teachers, as well as provide support for your local staff hiring and training. We can even help you set up accounting protocols, payroll or US-incorporated nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity for your school.

Managing the School and Securing Accreditation

Once an international school is opened, the school must mature and grow through an interconnected set of activities and oversight. ISS can provide management support to ensure success in the early stages of school operations through accreditation.

This support can cover areas such as leadership and supervision, accounting and financial activities, recruitment and professional development, procurement, child protection policies, operations management, accreditation, quality assurance, and more. Our deep bench of seasoned school leaders means you have ready access to an experienced network of experts who can immediately guide you through any situation. ISS’s protocols and best-practice methodologies set the pace for continuous improvement to help you maintain accreditation and remain best-in-class over the life of a school.

ISS Quick Case Studies


Achieve Xiamen International School

Achieve Xiamen International School (AXIS) is partially owned and operated by ISS in a joint venture with a committed local investor and will serve the expatriate and international community of the Xiamen region. AXIS is three schools in one. The main school is an international school for foreign passport students in grades K-12 and will follow an international curriculum. Additionally, AXIS will operate an early years program for children aged 3-5. This program will be bilingual and will be open to Chinese and foreign passport holders. The third school will be an English-language high school, also open to Chinese and foreign passport holders. The campus is located in a prime position on the island of Xiamen and has more than 26,000 sqm of educational space. Purpose-built for international education, the spaces are designed for inquiry, curiosity, and engagement. The school incorporates dormitory facilities to house regional students in grades 9-12. See more ISS schools »


The United Lisbon International School

The United Lisbon International School, with ISS as operator, opened in August 2020 in the heart of a new development next to the Park of Nations in downtown Lisbon, Portugal. United Lisbon is a modern, innovative international school whose owners partnered with ISS for school architectural design, curriculum development, faculty recruitment and training, procurement, and opening and management. The school was planned, marketed, staffed, and opened with an initial enrollment of over 120 students in approximately 20 months…during a pandemic! United Lisbon offers a full pre-K-9 comprehensive education program for the 2020/21 school year and will add an additional grade through to the first International Baccalaureate Diploma Program graduating class anticipated 2024. The school is part of a planned community campus which includes an educational technology hub for the community, and the school has recently partnered with Sporting Club Portugal to bring a Sporting CP Soccer Academy to the school. This amazing school is the latest of the ISS Start Ups to help shape its community. See more ISS schools »

As a nonprofit organization supporting 800+ international schools a year, we are pleased to work with educators, philanthropists, private investors and investor groups, public and privately-held corporations, government leaders, other nonprofit organizations, and a myriad of entities who share the desire to create thriving, world-class international schools.

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