The origins of Sandford International School can be traced back to the early 1940s when Mrs. Christine Sandford wanted to establish an English-speaking school for her children. Christine Sandford was the wife of Colonel Sandford, Head of the British Military Mission to Ethiopia during World War II, who along with Cunningham and Wingate, led the British contingent that the British Government dispatched to help Emperor Haile Selassie I and the Ethiopian army reclaim the country from 5 years of Italian occupation under Mussolini’s Government.
Colonel Sandford liked Ethiopia very much and decided to live here 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.
At that time, the school was known as Sandford English Community School. It 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.
By 1949, with the full support of the Emperor and the school community, the school moved to its present location.
Its role has been unique in Ethiopia and in Africa. It was one of the first international schools in Africa for both nationals and expatriates learning on an equal basis.
The last Sandford family member 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 approximately 400 students.
In 2001, Sandford English Community School was re-registered as “Sandford International School” and started to offer the International Baccalaureate. The school was divided into three sections: the Primary School from Nursery to Year 6; the Secondary School from Year 7 to Year 13 and the Adult Evening School. Public examinations offered are the Ethiopian National Examinations at Year 8, and Year 10, IGCSE at Year 11 and the International Baccalaureate at Year 13.