More about BSOs

British Schools Overseas (BSOs)

Which schools may call themselves “British Schools Overseas”?

The term “British Schools Overseas” (BSO) may only be officially used by a school that has been inspected, within the past three academic years, by one of the inspectorates approved by the UK government’s Department for Education.

How many BSOs are there?

More than one hundred schools have been inspected under BSO regulations. An increase of more than 50% over the previous year.

What is the BSO Inspection system?

The BSO inspection regime is based on the standards used to inspect the great majority of independent (i.e. private) schools that are based in England and Wales. This means that a school deemed to be, for example, “Outstanding” in a BSO inspection, is comparable in standard to an UK-based independent school with the same rating.

Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education – a UK Government organisation) quality assures the programme and seven inspectorates are approved to provide inspection services leading to BSO status.  Further information and a list of currently-approved inspectorates may be found at

Why was the BSO inspection programme developed?

The BSO scheme was implemented in 2010 to give parents and others an assurance that a school had been properly inspected and to give access to the inspection reports of each BSO.

Why do schools want to achieve BSO status?

There are several reasons for a school to submit itself to the rigorous BSO inspection system – and these, of course, vary from school to school. Amongst these are:

  • BSOs enjoy certain benefits, such as the right to take British teachers through their induction period, in the same way as would be the case were they to do this in a UK-based school. Experienced graduate teachers overseas who, for one reason or another, do not have a UK-recognised teaching qualification may also pursue a route to qualification in a BSO

  • BSOs now have the right to display the BSO logo on websites and publications. The UK government gained worldwide legal protection of this logo, which has the status of a “State Emblem”,

  • A BSO can join the Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO) and benefit from membership of a organisation that brings together Heads and Principals to pursue common interests

  • Schools that have successfully undergone a BSO inspection demonstrate to parents and the school community that they have reached a certain standard and that this is similar to that of a UK independent school that has attained the same rating in an Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) inspection. (ISI inspects the great majority of UK-based independent schools)

  • Any school, no matter how good – can benefit from an external assessment of their strengths and areas for development

  • The Board of Governors may wish to use an inspection as a measure of how well their school is operating – although this should, of course, be one of many indicators used in coming to any conclusion.

  • BSOs are given a DfE number as part of the recognition of their status.