The recent rapid growth of international schools in Asia is not due to an expansion of schools committed to an ideological viewpoint and to serving the needs of ‘global nomads’. The demand for international school places now comes predominantly from non-globally mobile families who perceive comparative advantage in an international education. These local families consider that an international school education is superior to a local one. We argue that, to meet the needs of families who want the benefits of a globally recognised brand, international schools must take seriously their responsibility to educate for the local context. Being internationalist in outlook and localist in emphasis are compatible and interdependent. The changing nature of international school students creates new responsibilities particularly as graduates return to their local areas after attending the international universities that provide a temporary global refuge. International schools should equip these returners to contribute to their local society and not remain isolated from it. We propose a tool for schools to challenge themselves to meet not only the high expectations associated with the best international education but also achieve a sustainable, active, responsible and respectful relationship with the local context.