Membership Standards

The following general standards are designed to guide the Board and the ACAMIS schools about membership decisions.

ACAMIS believes that membership should be extended to those schools it can best serve and that, in return, are able to contribute to the ACAMIS community.

ACAMIS international schools include preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools of international character and are further defined as those that:

  • are located in China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Province of Taiwan, and Mongolia;
  • are governed by their own school board or other competent educational authority and led by an appropriately qualified school Director, Head, Superintendent, etc. who oversees the school’s day-to-day operations;  
  • are accredited by a legal and appropriate international accrediting body acceptable to and approved by the ACAMIS Board of Directors;
  • are not foreign sections of host country state schools or affiliated with universities;
  • employ a teaching faculty of several nationalities;
  • admit students from multiple nationalities and regions;
  • offer external examinations such as AP, IB, SAT, ACT, A-levels, etc, which prepare graduates for universities beyond the school’s host country;
  • does not offer the host country curriculum (existing member schools are not affected by this criteria);
  • use English as a language of instruction.

Membership standards and requirements are further elaborated below.

  1. The school's mission, program, and system of operation shall be in keeping with appropriate respect for diversity, and pluralism in international education. Member schools should be mindful of the need to respect host country laws, regulations, languages, cultures and traditions. ACAMIS cannot condone any actions by its member schools that jeopardize its relationship with the government of the host country.
  2. The school must be committed to a formal process of independent external evaluation regarding its educational program, its governance and management, a professionally certified teaching faculty, facilities and infrastructural operations including its child protection and health and safety standards and protocols. Such evaluation must be regularly conducted so as to inform and support continuous school improvement.

ACAMIS recognizes as a minimum standard for membership a school that submits evidence of successful single or joint accreditation by agencies such as CIS, WASC, MSA, NEASC, or AdvancED. Schools in mainland China may wish to use joint accreditation with NCCT. Curriculum authorization alone is not a valid external review. Schools that use other forms of external evaluation may submit the following:

for Canadian curriculum schools: successful inspection or accreditation by an official provincial body such as from Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta and British Columbia;

for Australian curriculum schools: successful recognition and review by state authorities such as New South Wales Board of Studies;

for British curriculum schools: successful initial British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection by one of the five agencies licensed by OFSTED and commitment to that process, including the required refresher visit every three years.

The ACAMIS Board may consider applications from schools that can demonstrate commitment to a process of independent qualified external evaluation not indicated above.

3. The school shall be governed by its own independent school board or other competent independent educational authority(-ies) who in turn shall appoint and authorize an appropriately qualified Director, Head, Superintendent, etc, who oversees the school’s day-to-day operations;

4. Schools applying for membership shall agree to host, at their school's expense, an evaluative visit by one or two members of the ACAMIS Board and/or the Executive Director. Upon the conclusion of the visit, the ACAMIS visitor(s), using an ACAMIS Site Visit Matrix, shall report to the full Board on the degree to which the candidate school meets membership criteria. A quorum of the Board of Directors will determine the outcome of the school’s application. The decision will be reported to the applicant Head of School by the Executive Director.


ACAMIS Ethical Employment and Enrolment Practices

Teacher recruitment and enrolment development are the lifeblood of international schools. During times of uncertainty, deteriorating conditions can erode the basic principles that maintain the integrity of a school’s practices and the professional respect of neighboring schools. With an increased number of concerns brought to the ACAMIS Board’s attention about these two issues, ACAMIS has compiled a set of guidelines for our members that encourage the continuation of high professional standards. Non-member schools will also benefit from following these practices. Any school that has been impacted by breaches of these principles immediately recognizes their value. Schools that deviate from them may solve an immediate problem but will soon find themselves with a long-term problem of loss of institutional integrity to the detriment of their relationships with other schools in the region. These guidelines help to remind us that integrity is vital to the reputation of a school.


1.  Schools should meticulously carry out the promises and contracts made with any person, school, organization, or the general public.

2.  Schools should carefully avoid misleading or ambiguous statements about their work, situation, or status.

3.  Schools should respect normally accepted conventions regarding confidentiality in accordance with host country employment law.

4.  Schools should respect the intellectual property of other organizations.

Staff Recruitment

1.  A school should not directly solicit teachers from another school unless they confirmed that person’s contract status or eligibility. People do have the right to visit and to consider employment in a school other than the one in which they are currently employed without notifying the current employer. If a teacher contacts a school, the school should be allowed to interview, but should not make any offer until the contract status is clarified.

2.  A school has a right to hold preliminary discussions about possible employment with a faculty member/administrator/staff employed in another school without notifying that person’s school as long as no offer is made to commence during the time period in which that person is already contracted.  This may be referred to as a preliminary interview to determine status.

3.  If it is determined that the prospective teacher is under contract for the period intended by the new school, (which includes a binding offer/agreement with the current school), no interview should be held.

4.  Contracts should be respected. No school should knowingly attempt to influence a person to break an existing contract. Teachers applying to start a new position before their current contract expires should not be hired. This is commonly called “breaking contract” and should not be condoned unless through negotiation with the current employer.

5.  No school should penalize a person who wishes to further a career and follows standard procedures. If a teacher has declined an offer of a contract extension and elects to move on, it is reasonable that the school support the teacher and/or also transfer their visa/work permit to another city or province if requested (where possible), and even if moving to a school in the same city.

6.  Contracts with faculty members/administrators should include a clause in which prospective employees certify that they are not bound by any other employment contract.

7.  Schools should include a clause in all employment contracts which states that upholding the safeguarding of children is a requirement of all employees. References should always be checked including a courtesy call to the Head of the school where the teacher is employed to determine if the teacher remains under contract or is in good standing. If an applicant has been in country for some years, the security checks could have been bypassed.

8.  It is important to remember that a written contract is for the protection of both parties and that employment provisions apply equally to both parties. The inviolability of the two-way nature of a contract has eroded somewhat over time with either some employees or employers thinking the contract is mostly relevant to them rather than to both parties. Contracts remain legally valid in most countries and violations by either party can be successfully pursued at little cost in court, which usually honors the terms of the agreement.

9.  Ensure that all staff charged with recruitment of staff and students are aware of these points and provide training about the ethics of recruitment.

Transfer and enrollment of students

1.  Schools should recognize the right of a student and his/her parents to visit and consider schools other than that which the student is presently attending, as is the right of such other schools to hold preliminary discussions about possible admission without notifying the school of current attendance. However, a school should not itself knowingly initiate an attempt to enroll a student currently enrolled elsewhere.

2.  When a student is transferring from one school to another, irrespective of whether either school is an ACAMIS member, and the first school notifies the receiving school that some financial obligation due to the former remains outstanding, the receiving school should delay admission of the student until a satisfactory arrangement to settle prior accounts has been agreed upon.

3.  Schools should consider their most important obligation in enrolling a new student to be the welfare of that student. Financial assistance or any other advantage not regularly accorded to all students should not be offered in such a way as to influence the enrolment decision improperly.

Suggestions for managing suspected breaches of ACAMIS Ethical Employment and Enrolment Practices

1.  While we are always interested in knowing about conflicts with these issues and can offer advice, ACAMIS is not an adjudicator and will not intervene nor serve in judgement on anyone’s behalf.

2.  The best means of resolution is to speak directly with the offending school Head to first present what is known and to seek the facts. It is possible that a Head is not aware of actions taken by other staff charged with recruitment. Then point out the transgression and refer to the Ethical Guidelines.

3.  If, after hearing the other school’s view of the issue, there is no resolution, the other school will at least be informed and be more inclined to follow the guidelines next time.

4.  If the loss of a teacher is due to a breach of contract and you really wish to retain the teacher, inform the other Head that you intend to take the issue to court, where contracts are usually upheld, and that this may be both embarrassing and costly for the offending school.

5.  It is also good to remember that the staff member seeking other employment may be mentally prepared to make the change and, if forced to remain, may be a disgruntled for the remainder of the contract.

6.  It is advisable to include explicit penalties in contracts to discourage departures before the contract ends.

June 2, 2022.