Networks of dedicated schools or education services abroad

ETTW works with the European Institutions to better understand the educational systems set up by the Member States of the European Union, for the children of their expatriate citizens.

Here is a first result that follows the conference on the subject organised in March 2018 with the European Committee of the Regions. Thanks to all who have contributed.

This inventory does not have a scientifically exhaustive approach to the question, but is rather a useful collection of evolutive information (in particular, it does not yet cover all the countries of the European Union). If you wish to contribute or comment on this survey, please contact Pierre Mairesse (

Draft inventory

The countries of the European Union and expatriate organizations have set up a network of schools and services for the education of the children of their fellow citizens on the move. At the same time, international schools have emerged in Europe and around the world.

A number of these networks and services have been identified by ETTW, the European Throughout the World association of expatriates. It is the purpose of this document.

This inventory does not have the ambition of a scientifically exhaustive approach to the question, but rather a useful collection of information. Such a more comprehensive and systematic approach could be processed by European Institutions through Eurydice (The Eurydice network supports and facilitates European cooperation in the field of lifelong learning by providing information on education systems and policies in 38 countries and by producing studies on issues common to European education systems).


  1. Austria
  2. Belgium 
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Danemark
  5. Finland
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Italy
  9. Netherlands
  10. Poland
  11. Portugal
  12. Spain
  13. Sweden
  14. UK


  1. Austria

The Federal Ministry of Education manages 7 schools offering an Austrian curriculum abroad (134 teachers)

  1. Belgium

French community

The ‘Association des écoles à programme belge à l’étranger’ manages 4 schools in central Africa (3000 students, 200 teachers).

Flamish community

Flanders and the Netherlands share a tradition of collaborating when it comes to organising native language education abroad, as well as cultural and general education (see the point on Netherlands). The foundation Flemings in the Worlds (VIW) put, on its side, attention to the quality of the provided schooling, as well as to the Flemish culture teaching, and to children who return to Flanders after an expatriation or should be able to easily re-enrol, in particular with a Flemish initiative called D-Teach ( has been set up for distance learning and it uses the Flemish curriculum as a benchmark. Flemish children abroad are also enlisted in Dutch departments of European schools

  1. Bulgaria

Bulgarian education services are supported by the Association of Bulgarians Schools abroad (ABSA) in cooperation with the Temporary Social Councils of Bulgarians abroad (TSCBA). The vast majority of the ‘schools’ are registered as NGOs and teach Bulgarian language, history, geography, and culture of Bulgaria for several hours a week.

  1. Denmark

Danes Worldwide is the Danish organisation for Danes across the globe, advocacying economy, civil rights and education:

    • Danes Worldwide’s annual summer schools offers 3 weeks of teaching in the Danish language and culture for children and adolescents who reside outside of Denmark
    • Danes Worldwide’s online Danish courses support and develop the students’ insight into the culture of Denmark and their skills in the Danish language so that they will be able, notably, to enter Denmark’s school system easily upon their return.
    • Danish for Beginners is a fun and serious online learning program developed for Danish children living abroad who are learning Danish for the first time
    • Local lessons called ‘Group Instruction’ are provided in several cities worldwide.
  1. Finland
  • 6 schools provide Finnish basic education abroad. Information on these is available at the Finnish National Board of Education.
  • Children of expatriate Finns can also be taught at home according to a specific Basic Education curriculum developed for them.
  • The comprehensive school syllabi can also be studied with the help ofkotiperuskoulu, which’s a virtual learning network intended for young Finns living abroad
  1. France

The Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) is the public French body under the supervision of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, which, in conjunction with its partners, manages and coordinates the network of approved schools (‘établissements homologués’). As guarantor of the French education system abroad, the AEFE plays a key role in expanding France’s cultural diplomacy and French higher education.

AEFE ensures the continuity of the French public education service for the children of French families living abroad. All students, either French or from other nationalities, from an accredited school can pursue their schooling in any other French school abroad or in France without having to sit for an exam.

The list of approved schools is determined on an annual basis by a joint ministerial order from the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Education.

The network of French schools is unique in the world with 492 schools in 137 countries: 74 schools under direct management, 153 jointly operated AEFE schools that are managed by associations or foundations, and 265 partner schools. In total, 350.000 students are learning in those schools (126.000 French students, 224.000 foreign students) following courses given by more than 30.000 teachers. The MLF (Mission Laïque Française / French Secular Mission) manages 93 of those schools in 41 countries.

The AEFE is also the public operator of two additional programs:

      • FLAM (French as a native language): The AEFE provides financial aid to 48 local associations in 18 countries seeking to ensure the French language skills of French children who do not attend an accredited school (non formal out of school education).
      • LabelFrancÉducation : this label identifies, recognizes and promotes high-quality foreign schools with national programs that contribute to the development of the French language and Francophone culture. 209 schools are labelised in 44 countries
  1. Germany

The Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen, ZfA) of the Federal Office of Administration supports educational work abroad:

  • Worldwide, about 140 German schools abroad in 71 countries (25% of German pupils, 2000 teachers), most of which are run by private organizations, receive personnel and financial assistance from the ZfA in close cooperation with the Länder. Schools deliver 2 kinds of diplomas: Internationa Abitur, or German IB.
  • Apart from that, ZfA provides assistance to approximately 1.100 other schools in the respective educational system where the German Language Certificate (DSD) of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany can be acquired.
  • There is also throughout the world, German pedagogical advisers ans schools coordinators
  1. Italy
  • 22 States schools
  • 131 Private schools recognised by the State
  • 76 bilingual sections in foreign schools
  1. Netherlands

Stichting Nederlands Onderwijs in het Buitenland, or NOB (The Foundation for Dutch Education Worldwide) is the core of a global network for Dutch education abroad.

The Foundation for Dutch Education Worldwide is a non-profit organisation that has been facilitating a smooth transition into the Dutch education system for Dutch-speaking children – since 1980. The Ministry of Education, Culture and  Science has commissioned NOB to promote and support high standards of Dutch education for Dutch-speaking children around the world. NOB does this together with a global network of nearly 200 schools with support of teachers, parents, companies, prominent parties, administrators and governments.

When Dutch children return to the Netherlands or Belgium, they (re-)enter the Dutch (or Flemish) education system at anywhere from primary school to university level. In 2017 13.430 children are enrolled in the 4 types of Dutch schools that are available worldwide as well as 13 European schools.

Five types of Dutch schools abroad can be distinguished. All five types have their own method of certification:

  • Full-time Dutch primary and/or secondary education programmes: at 14 schools around the world full-time Dutch education is offered. The educational program of these schools meets the core objectives of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences. This allows students to transfer seamlessly to schools in the Netherlands (1787 pupils in 2017).
  • Dutch-International schools: at 6 schools around the world a fusion of Dutch and international curricula is offered (569 pupils in 2017).
  • Dutch Language and Culture programme, integrated in an international curriculum: available at 28 international schools. 1929 pupils follow Dutch Mother tongue, integrated in an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate.
  • Dutch Language and Culture schools (in addition to the locally available education programme): 58% of students attending Dutch classes abroad are enrolled in a Dutch Language and Culture school (NTC school). There are 142 of these schools that offer Dutch language and culture classes to 7755 pupils several hours a week, out of regular school.
  • European schools: In 2017, 1390 Dutch students attend a European school. In 8 (out of 13) European schools there is a Dutch section.

NOB supports several organisations for distance learning, which provide (depending on the organisation) all the education types mentioned above. The providers include known names such as Edufax, Wereldschool, Language One, Worldwide Juf, etc. For more information:

  1. Poland

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the policy towards the Polish community  abroad. The Ministry of National Education carries out tasks in the scope of maintaining knowledge of the Polish language, culture and sense of  identity of Poles living abroad. People may attend the following schools:

  • school consultation points  at diplomatic, consular and military representative offices of the Republic of Poland in 36 countries; school consultation points implement a  learning plan in the field of Polish language and knowledge about Poland
  • a Group of Schools in Athens,  which implements both a framework learning plan for pupils completing their compulsory education in this system and a supplementary learning plan in the field of Polish language and knowledge about Poland for pupils completing their compulsory education in the Greek education system.
  • the National Education Commission for primary school, lower secondary school and upper secondary school providing distance learning (online).

In total, 18,300 pupils attend the Group of Schools in Athens, school consultation points and schools in the Centre for the Development of Polish Education Abroad. 573 teachers teach in the above-mentioned facilities. There are also four Polish sections in the French education system.

The Ministry of National Education also supports the teaching of Polish and in Polish conducted by Poles’ organisation schools registered abroad, and:

  • designates teachers to work abroad in the areas of mass deportations of Poles
  • organises various forms of professional development for teachers teaching Polish, history, geography, Polish culture and other subjects taught in Polish abroad
  • equips schools of organisations of Poles, schools at parishes and schools located within the education systems of countries of residence of Poles with necessary textbooks and teaching aids
  • organises competitions for the implementation of public tasks supporting the teaching of Polish and in Polish, including professional development of teachers teaching Polish, educational camps for young people of the Polish diaspora, cooperation between schools functioning within education systems of other countries and managed by social organisations of Poles and schools in Poland

The above-mentioned tasks are carried out by universities, non-governmental organisations and local self-government authorities selected in a competition.

In addition, the Minister of National Education:

  • organises meetings of the Rada Oświaty Polonijnej (Polonia Education Council): a platform for cooperation and dialogue between the Ministry of National Education and Polonia educational environments from 19 countries
  • strives to provide the Polish national minority in Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine with the right to learn Polish and learn in Polish

The minister of national education put also in place actions aimed at pupils and graduates coming from abroad (including polish citizens and repatriates):

  • organising Polish language courses and courses of adaptation to Polish society
  • developing legal regulations regarding the admission of pupils coming from abroad to schools and monitoring their implementation
  • developing legal regulations regarding the recognition of foreign school leaving certificates and monitoring their implementation
  1. Portugal

Under the supervision of the Ministry of foreign affairs, The Institut Camoes gives courses to around 50.000 pupils in the world

  1. Spain

The Ministry of Education is present in 40 countries with education offices and resource centers:

  • There are 24 Spanish schools abroad (22 Centros de titularidad del Estado espanol and 2 Centros de titularidad mixta), 11 of which are in Europe
  • The Ministry has signed agreements with Latin American institutions to integrate elements of the Spanish curriculum into their curriculum
  • There are Spanish sections in foreign institutions (28 in 6 countries) and bilingual sections (63 institutions in 9 countries)
  • 13 agreements of cooperation with foreign institutions
  • 19 ‘regroupements’ for out of school education
  1. Sweden

The National Agency for Education is the central Swedish administrative authority for the public school system, incl. publicly organised preschooling, school-age childcare and adult education.

Swedish schools abroad are entitled to state grants for education in pre-school classes and in grades 1-6. In some cases even for high school grades 7-9 and upper secondary school 1-3.  There are currently 18 foreign schools receiving state grants, in the following countries: Austria, Belgium (Scandinavia), France, Germany (Sweden and Scandinavia), Kenya, Mocambique (Scandinavia), Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and United Kingdom. There are also Swedish sections in International Schools in Geneva, Paris, Warsaw, Papa (HU), Hanoi and Dubai. The schools follow the Swedish curricula and the teaching is in Swedish. Swedish foreign schools receiving state grants have the right to give grades to the students. The School Inspectorate supervises the activities that receive government grants. The National Agency for Education is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the activities.

There are other Swedish schools and other education programs abroad that do not receive government grants or have the right to grade according to Swedish law. Such schools are not under Swedish state monitoring, evaluation and supervision. Swedish embassies and consulates abroad can provide information about such schools.

Source: (Swedish only)

  1. UK

The British government does not support directly independent schools abroad. In practice:

  • There are more than 2300 schools abroad with elements of the British curriculum
  • There is a system of inspection on a voluntary basis
  • COBIS is one of the associations that promotes the interests of British schools abroad. There are +/- 130 schools accredited by COBISSCHOLA EUROPAE /EUROPEAN SCHOOLS

The European Schools are an intergovernmental organisation managed by a Board of Governors, whose members are representatives of the government of the EU Member States and the European Commission, based on an international treaty (the European Schools Convention). Their aim is offering education to the children of European Institutions civil servants and providing them with comprehensive education (maternal, elementary, secondary), in their mother tongue.

They are located where the European institutions are located and education is free for the staff of the European Institutions. The course leads to the European Baccalaureate, which gives access to all universities in Europe.

There are 13 European Schools, which welcome more than 26,000 pupils. If the European Schools have further capacity (as is at present the case in all schools outside Brussels) they may take in other pupils, who will pay fees, which roughly correspond to half of the real costs.

Some years ago the Board of Governors decided to allow associated schools. They are MS national schools, which decide to offer European curriculum, which corresponds to the pedagogical requirements laid down for the European Schools. Since they work within the framework of the national school systems, they are outside the administrative and financial framework of European Schools. At present, there are 14 accredited European Schools. The EC can decide to contribute for the children of the EU staff, while the other pupils have to pay for themselves or to be paid for by the local government.  Such associated European Schools exist today in Strasbourg, Helsinki, Heraklion, Parma, Manosque, Dublin and from September 2014 in Copenhagen (list much longer, please see website


  1. the International Baccalaureate (IB)

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programmes of international education (4276 schools). Associations of International Baccalaureate® (IB) World Schools are groupings of IB schools. The IB works closely with Associations of IB World Schools.

  1. Nordic network of international schools

The Nordic Network of International Schools (14 international schools) is a collaborative network that serves International schools in the Nordic and Baltic Regions. The network seeks to enhance collaboration between its participants to ensure best practices in international education.

  1. European Council of International Schools

Founded in 1965, ECIS is a non-profit organisation that provides professional learning, credentials, and bespoke solutions to its members, comprising start-up and mature international and internationally-minded schools, organisations that support education through their products and services, and individuals who are internationally-minded in their outlook and practice.

  1. UNESCO associated schools (ASP network)

Founded in 1953, the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet), commonly referred to as UNESCO Associated Schools, is a global network of 10,000 educational institutions in 181 countries.

Annex : Summary

The table below summarizes the information collected and illustrates the diversity of approaches (dedicated schools, agreements with other schools, out of schools activities, online learning, …)

Dedicated schools Agreements with other schools Out of
online learning other
Austria 7
Belgium (FR) 4
Belgium (NL) 21 178 yes Cooperation with NL
Bulgaria yes
Danemark Summer schools,
local lessons
Finland at home yes
France 492 209
Support to 48 associations
Germany 140 1100
Pedagogical adv.
Schools coord.
Italy 153 76
Netherlands 20 28 142
yes Cooperation with Flanders
Poland In Greece Yes (5 in France) Yes , camps, … yes School consultation points
Portugal yes
Spain 24 Agreements, 91 Spanish sections and/or bilingual sections yes
Sweden 22 6
UK 2300