Founded in 1965, ECIS (the Educational Collaborative for International Schools) is a non-profit, global membership organisation for internationally minded schools and partners. We are a vibrant network representing 500+ communities and 50,000+ passionate educators in 85 countries on six continents.
ECIS provides culturally sensitive professional development, led by outstanding educational facilitators, and thought leaders. Our global educational community provides access to a multitude of resources aimed at enhancing a school’s vision and mission, as well as innovative projects that can help shape and improve the future of learning.
ECIS is focused on skill development, application of understandings and creating a culture of lifelong learning. We want to ensure that all students at ECIS member schools know they can become a force for good in this world. We believe that quality education should be personalised, immersive, connected, evolutionary, and diverse.
Through the power of commonality and inclusion, we are committed to social justice and equity through diversity, inclusion and intercultural understanding. All of our work is guided by our commitment to social justice and equity as an essential component to a meaningful and lasting international education for all students.
The ECIS Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct is fundamental to our values, and therefore essential to achieving our mission to impact lives through international education. We invite you to read through our ethics booklet here.
The ECIS Team
Board of trustees comprising official representatives from the ECIS Member Schools
- Tim Kelley, Head of School, International School of Stuttgart (Chair)
- Richard Parker, Head of School, International School of London
- Kathryn Miner, Director, American International School Vienna
- Peggy Pelonis, President, ACS Athens
- Tom Egerton, Head of School, Beijing City International School
- Dahi Al-Fadhli, Head of School, American Creativity Academy, Kuwait
- LaTyia Rolle, American Elementary School Principal, John F. Kennedy School, Berlin
- Courtney Lowe, Director, American School of The Hague
- Rachel Hovington, Head of School, Benjamin Franklin International School, Barcelona
- Pascale Hertay, BEPS International School
- Dr. Tim Stuart , Regional Education Officer, Office Of Overseas Schools, United States Department of State
- Dr. Oli Tooher-Hancock, Director, American International School of Lusaka
The first gathering of those who felt it prudent to pursue the formation of a group of linked international schools within Europe was held at a bar in Beirut in the autumn of 1962 during the International Schools Foundation conference, an annual gathering for heads of American and International schools.
That initial seed soon took root as the putative Council of European Schools Serving American Students (CESSAS), and there was talk of formalising the organisation. Later, just one year before it was to incorporate officially, there was a meeting in Brussels at which the earliest form of the Office of Overseas Schools—then called the Overseas Schools Policies Committee—was announced as having been established by the US Department of State, and so began an affiliation between the two organisations ab initio. The historic meeting that resulted in the official formation of the association was held at the Collège du Léman in Switzerland in March 1965, and, since those earliest days, the organisation we now know as ECIS has grown from a core group of prescient schools to a worldwide organisation that spans myriad cultures, curricular models, and organisational designs. ECIS owes its existence to a group of passionate and visionary educational leaders who exercised their resolve, and their names echo loudly in the halls of international education, from Mary Crist Fleming (The American School in Switzerland) to Arthur Denyer (International School of Brussels) to Francis Clivaz (Collège du Léman) to John Chapman (The American School of Paris), among others whose numbers grew rapidly in those early years.
ECIS has had four corporate identities in its first fifty years.
The first incorporation was in 1966 as a Swiss non-profit, the second in 1974 as an American Foundation (Delaware), the third in 1983 as an American 501(c)(3) Delaware non-profit corporation, and the fourth (and current) in 2012 as a UK non-profit.
Alongside incorporation is the matter of nomenclature. When it was resolved to form the organisation in 1965, it was given the name European Council of International Schools, and its core membership was international schools within Europe, although the idea had had its genesis in Beirut. Over the years, as membership parameters were revisited and expanded to permit membership of non-European schools, the ECIS base grew to include members on six continents. When ECIS relocated its offices to London in 2011 and was granted UK charitable status the following year, the name of the organisation changed to ECI Schools, as the utilisation of ‘European Council’ was not permitted on account of EU regulations on that combination.
In January 2016, the ECIS Board of Trustees voted to change the name behind the acronym to the Educational Collaborative for International Schools, emphasising the organisation’s collaborative nature and removing geographical limitations from its name. In many ways, this development was inevitable and perhaps somewhat overdue, given the association’s truly global membership. Yet the use of the acronym ‘ECIS’ will long remain a positive nod toward and suitable reminder of its nascent membership in Europe, which remains the organisation’s core market.
Related closely to corporate identity and nomenclature is the leadership provided to ECIS by its executive directors over the years. While every executive director has served the organisation loyally and with skill, it is fitting to highlight an extraordinary leadership period of 29 years provided by Gray Mattern and his successor, Michael Maybury, each of whom led the organisation during years of rapid growth, both in terms of schools served and programmes undertaken.
ECIS began to accredit schools some seven years after its inception, even though the subject had been broached in 1965, as a way to acknowledge that international schools (not just American schools, but the growing number of different kinds of international schools) differed from the kinds of schools being accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools—the primary accrediting agency at that time. The first school to be accredited was Antwerp International School in 1971, and it marked the beginning of a long and fruitful period of accreditation by ECIS. Schools that soon followed were Copenhagen International School(1972), Stavanger American School(1974), and the International School of Hamburg (1975), with many more to come after these first ten years of existence.
The Collège du Léman became the first member school to undergo what we now term ‘dual accreditation’ in 1978, with the two agencies being ECIS and Middle States, although the processes were not as coordinated as they are now. In that same year, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) announced that they would begin offering accreditation services in Europe and would be prepared to conduct dual accreditation with ECIS. The International School of Belgrade and the Anglo-American School of Moscow were the first schools to complete this joint process in 1981.
Accreditation carried on in this fashion until the start of the new millennium, when a decision was reached to separate the accreditation portfolio from the rest of the business operations of ECIS. The legal separation occurred in 2003, with the birth of the Council of International Schools (CIS) as the entity to handle accreditation as well as recruitment services.
The ECIS conferences grew from a combination of regular meetings and serendipity. From the inception of the idea in Beirut through the earliest days of ECIS, there were European springtime meetings. The spring of 1967 saw a more formalised structure offered, and what we now know as the leadership conference ensued.
It should be noted, though, that the first ten years of ECIS conferences were attended largely by directors and administrators, most notably college counsellors, even at the autumnal gathering. As the organisation began its second decade, however, it was recognised that the needs of teachers could be met by ECIS, specifically by means of offering a conference where ideas could be shared and networks created or expanded—and so the Special Interest Group conferences, focusing on specific disciplines, became a mainstay event for teachers professional development.
In 2020, with Global Pandemic of COVID19, the ECIS Leadership Conference was scheduled for April at UCJC in Madrid. Recognised for their innovation and agility, rather than cancel the conference completely, ECIS took the courageous step of converting the entire face to face conference to virtual with five weeks’ notice. As a result, nearly 1000 leaders internationally accessed the conference. ECIS were also able to offer extended, and therefore, embedded professional development for their International Leaders, by extending the conference content accessibility for sixty days after the conference, on-demand.
ECIS conferences, and their suite of digital and face to face professional development, continue to evolve and are rooted in evidence around effective professional learning, and shows ECIS’ commitment to delivering professional learning that is flexible, innovative and creates impact to their International School Community.
ECIS had run conferences during its early years, and, as schools grew and more staff had more need of professional development opportunities, it made sense to carve out an area within the organisation that would devote itself to discovery and implementation of programmes of action to enhance the performance of professional staff in member schools; thus was launched School Services.
By the summer of 1982, ECIS was organising face to face training workshops for teachers. The growth of these workshops can be seen in today’s offering of ECIS professional development. ECIS now have both digital, blended, and face to face professional development which is both asynchronous and synchronous. In addition, we now have training for the entire International School Communities, from students, support staff through to governors and owners. In many ways, “school services” are very much alive and well, and they continue to evolve to meet the times and needs of members as well as non-members.
As a result, ECIS are delighted to collaborate with The International Classroom Partnership and to offer our first Virtual recruitment Fair in January 2021 to widen our school services and the support we provide to the entire International School Community.
Although ECIS had moved from Switzerland in the 1970s to be housed in London at the newly-built American School of London, its growth soon required a move to larger office spaces, which the organisation found in Surrey, in the southern suburbs of London.
ECIS continued to grow in membership and in staff, and, just several years later, the offices were moved again, this time to more spacious accommodations in Petersfield, a market town just north of Portsmouth. Petersfield proved a beneficial location for some time, and, even when ECIS and CIS were distinctly separate beginning in 2003, it remained the home of both until 2011, when ECIS moved to its headquarters to London on Buckingham Palace Road, where we remained until moving to Greville St in 2018.
International Task Force For Child Protection
ECIS is proud to be a Founding Member of the International Task Force for Child Protection (ITFCP), and we uphold the group’s standards for child protection. Alongside the other founding members:
- Academy of International School Heads
- Association for the Advancement of International Education
- Council of British International Schools
- Council of International Schools
- International Schools Service
- U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Schools
The ITFCP now meets regularly to discuss and share quality standards, raise awareness of the challenges facing the international school community in this area, and to help schools to meet these challenges. ECIS have developed their Child Protection Certificate, now available for the entire International School Community and available in four languages to support raising awareness and training of individuals Child Protection responsibilities.