Schools That Change Their Names

rebrandingOver the years, we’ve noticed that some International Schools have changed their names, some more drastically than others. Why would a school do this? Here are our thoughts on the topic.

#1. It makes good sense that a school would add a word or two to its name to reflect a major change. For example, with the addition of a second language as the medium of instruction, the International School of Jupiter might become the Bilingual School of Jupiter. Likewise, adopting a Montessori format would prompt the addition of the word “Montessori” to an institution’s name.

#2. If a school were to expand its enrollment policies to include International students and not just locals, it stands to reason that it may decide to change its name from The Jupiter School in Crater One to The Jupiter International School in Crater One. Or, even simply The International School of Jupiter.

#3. Some schools, however, change their names so thoroughly that any and all connections to their former identity is totally erased. Why would the International School of Jupiter become Pluto Neighborhood School of International Education? Of the 13 International Schools listed below, 12 changed their names to just such an extent.

Are drastic name changes done for tax and/or licensing reasons? Or, is it an indication of new ownership or a complete overhaul of the facilities, programs & procedures? Are the name-changing reasons authentic and transparent, or are they to thwart unwanted attention from the glare of previous poor publicity and misdeeds? We do wonder why, if at all possible, a school wouldn’t want to retain at least some connection to its previous name, especially if  it were proud of its accomplishments & reputation under that name?

We speculate that a complete name change, especially in the absence of a regulatory advantage, new ownership or a major overhaul, may be motivated by promotional goals or motives similar to those of a person who changes their name from Bob Smith to Awesome McWonderful.

Of course, all these ideas are just speculation on our part. If YOU have taught at a school that changed its name, we invite you to share your experience. What prompted your school to change its name? What was accomplished by changing the name? In your opinion, was this a good change or a bad one?

Schools Reviewed on ISR That Changed Their Names
Current Name
Former Name
Beijing International Bilingual Academy China Kinstar International Bilingual School
Busan International Foreign School Korea International School Busan
Yongsan International School Seoul
International Christian School
American Baccalaureate School Kuwait American Bilingual School
Canadian Bilingual School Kuwait Gulf International School
International School Myanmar Yangon International Education Center
Muscat International School Oman Muscat Private School
Doha British School Qatar Doha Montessori British School
Awsaj Academy Qatar Learning Center School
Excelsior International School Singapore Emaar Raffles
Heathfield International School Thailand Lord Shaftesbury International School
Al Mizhar American Academy UAE American Academy for Girls
St. Paul American School Hanoi Vietnam American International School

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12 Responses to Schools That Change Their Names

  1. Tereza Lopes says:

    Nice post with good information about schools. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    Some schools have two names and even the teachers don’t know it! The Dubai American Academy (for example) is actually technically GEMS American Academy.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I taught at a school that changed its name because the school board wanted a different name than what they originally choose. The school was only 1 year old at the time of the name change so it did not matter too much.

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  4. anonymous says:

    Taylor’s International School Malaysia – formerly Sri Graden s School.

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  5. Sandra Schintu says:

    The Exelsior International School Singapore has changed it’s name again around two or three years ago. It now is called the Nexus International School.

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  6. Max says:

    All schools in Indonesia that had the word “international” in their name were forced to change their names. JIS changed the I to intercultural, but many others, like mine, just dropped the word as instructed.

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  7. Falcon Randwick says:

    I once accepted a job at a school called Singapore International School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I made the move there, not so long afterwards. On my first day of duties I went to the street address, but couldn’t find the school. I did, however, find a place called Western International School. I had a closer look and there, leaning up against a fence at the side of the school, was the deposed former school sign. The school knew I was coming, so it would have been nice if they’d passed on the rather salient piece of news that the school had changed its name.

    I later learned that there had been shenanigans in the admin of SIS and that the owner had done a bunk, back to Singapore presumably, with the cash fees of many students who had enrolled for the forthcoming school year and that WIS, a reputable and established school, had bought/taken over the property.

    Welcome to Cambodia…

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  8. Kris was Beijing now VA says:

    Most schools’ legal name isn’t their English name, so tinkering with the advertising may just be marketing. I’ve worked with many owners/ boards who were not educators, not English speakers, not professional “ad men,” who had little to no overseas experience. Name changes didn’t seem as significant to them as to the expat staff and community.
    Many saw their foreign staff as very temporary and discounted their expertise.

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  9. ICS has now become YISS because an organization called The Korea Foundation wished to establish a school for international families in the Yongsan area. ICS won the contract and YISS was born.

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  10. Steven says:

    Hello, I worked at Vietnam American International School in Hanoi the first year it opened (2011-12). It is now St Paul American School in Hanoi. I can not say the real reason for the change. However, it is a part of a wider organization of schools that are named St. Paul. The “parent” or main office for all these schools is in St. Paul, Minnesota. From my experience, the school had 2 principals and 2 temporary principals the first year. I have seen 4 principals in 4 years, but only one majority owner. The school retained only 2 original faculty members the second year. The rest quit during the first semester, were fired during the first semester, quit at the end of the year, or finished their contracts and moved to another school (like me). No one received Vietnamese work permits until the end of the first year in June. So, we were working illegally as we only had tourist visas. Occasionally, the Vietnamese gov’t would not let us renew the tourist visa unless we left the country and came back. So, the faculty had to take visa runs to Bangkok, Thailand.
    The first year, there was about 65 students from K-10. I found the mostly Korean students very respectful, about ½ were hard working and motivated, but almost all were lacking in the English skills, and a few were severely limited in English. The curriculum was American-based and has not changed. The facility was an 14 floor office building that was unsuitable for a school. The school has since moved into a different part of Hanoi and into a proper school building, but I don’t know about the specific facilities of that school.

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  11. Edward Shephard says:

    I am not responding to a previous post, merely making a comment. Earlier this year the Indonesian government made it illegal to call any school in the country international. Hence the name changes BIS to BSJ and Jakarta International School to Jakarta Intercultural School. As a result many other schols have also been forced to change their names some considerably more than others.

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  12. I worked at the American Bilingual School in Kuwait for one year. I’m sure that most of the complaints about this school were average. Some teachers loved it there, but some didn’t, mostly due to the current administration at the time, which changed often. I also know that the school was very concerned about its reputation as a provider of quality education focusing on college-readiness, which would explain the enhanced name, one which mirrored that goal.

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