Sandford International School was known until the recent change of name
as the Sandford English (Community) School.
The origins of the school can be traced back to the early 1940s when Mrs. Christine Sandford, wanted to establish an English-speaking school for her children. The English –speaking community was very small at the time but the Ethiopian nobility also wanted access to an English education for their children. Christine Sandford was the wife of Colonel Sandford, the Head of British Military Mission to Ethiopia during World War II, who along with Cunningham and Wingate, led the British contingent that was dispatched by the British Government to help Emperor Haile Selassie I and the Ethiopian army reclaim the country from 5 year of Italian occupation under Mussolini’s Government.
Partly in gratitude for their assistance and partly because Colonel Sandford liked Ethiopia very much and returned here to live with his family, as close friends of the Emperor and the restored government, the Sandford family was granted land for farming and for building a school. The small English Speaking community had no suitable educational facilities, nor did the British Embassy families who often wanted their children here with them instead of back home in England or boarded in Kenya or Cairo, the options at the time.
Sandford School grew rapidly, and in a manner befitting the founders and their interest in living in Ethiopia and educating their children along with Ethiopian children. From the beginning, as agreed with the Imperial Government, the school was open to Ethiopians with a reduced, subsidized system of fees to allow the attendance of Ethiopian children, including children of the Royal and other leading families. There was thus a development of education component meant to benefit the whole country, not only the few British families.
By 1949, with the full support of the Emperor and parents, the school moved to its present premise on about 8 acres, located in a residential area.
Both British and Ethiopian interests from the beginning, to serve English-language educational needs in the country in a holistic manner, established Sandford. Its role has been unique in Ethiopia and in Africa. Some say it is the first international school in Africa for both nationals and expatriates learning on an equal basis and catering for the special needs in multi-racial, multi-national education. It grew to include a majority of Ethiopian students and began to recruit teachers from abroad.
The last Sandford to run the school, on a salaried basis, was Philippa “Pippa” Sandford, who reported to the Board and the General Assembly and who retired in 1993, when the school had about 400 students.
The teaching staff was mixed international and national with most expatriates from the UK and from other English-speaking countries. Currently about 73% of the teaching staff of the school are expatriates.
In 2001, Sandford English Community School was re-registered as “Sandford International School” and started to offer the international Baccalaureate (IB) instead of the IGCSE A levels, as its pre-university course for yeas 12 and 13. The position of “Senior Manager” was established, to oversee the management of the School and to facilitate the working requirements of the senior academic and administrative staff and of the Board. The Senior Manager is also the chief liaison with the Ethiopian Government authorities.
The school divided into three sections: - the Primary School from Nursery to Year 6, - the Secondary School from Year 7 to Year 13, - the Adult Evening School. Public examinations offered are the Ethiopian National Examinations at Year 8, and Year 10, the IGCSE at Year 11 and the International Baccalaureate at Year 13.
The School has a student population of about 700 and is drawn from approximately 50 nationalities. A significant percentage of the students are Ethiopian.
The School works closely with various offices including the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, Ministry of labor and social affairs and other agencies. The School is a member of the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), and the International Baccalaureate Organization.