Choosing a school in Thailand

Thailand already offers plenty of high-quality education opportunities and aspires to become a centre for international education in Southeast Asia, which should increase the choice of schools still further.

Pupils in education Thailand
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There are currently around 170 English-medium international schools in Thailand responding to the learning needs of pre-school, primary and high-school students, with nearly 66,700 pupils attending, according to data from ISC Research.

Education in Bangkok

Bangkok dominates the market, with 106 schools. The city is renowned for its traffic congestion. Families already based there suggest that new expatriates find a good school close to home, or near an MRT (Bangkok’s fast and efficient Mass Rapid Transit network) station, to avoid long and difficult commutes.Most of Thailand’s major cities have one or two international-school options. Phuket has 12.

Demand for places in Thailand

As well as expatriates, wealthy local families are increasingly seeking places at Thailand’s international schools. This is partly because of dissatisfaction with the country’s national education system, and partly because of the increased opportunities for higher education that international schools offer their students.As a result, a number of the leading international schools in Thailand are in very high demand, and some have waiting lists.There is no government limit on the number of local students who can attend international schools. Some schools do set a cap, however, to ensure availability for expatriate families and maintain a diverse student intake that reflects the international nature of the school. 

A range of international school options

Of Thailand’s international schools, 52 per cent follow the National Curriculum of England, 32 per cent offer a US-style curriculum, and 14 per cent deliver one or more of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes. These are the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP).Bangkok Patana School and the International School Bangkok are established and popular. Both have an excellent reputation, with students achieving above-average exam results year after year.Established in 1951, the International School Bangkok occupies a 15-hectare campus in the heart of the city. The school, which has almost 2,000 students, aged from four to 18, offers an American-style curriculum, with the IBDP.
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Bangkok Patana, which is almost as old, having been established in 1957, is Thailand’s original British international school. It has over 2,200 students of
65 different nationalities, and is located in the southeast of the city. The school follows the National Curriculum of England and, for senior students, offers the IBDP.Affiliated with the United Nations, NIST International is another popular school in Bangkok. It was established in 1992, and was the first IB World School in Thailand, which means that it offers IB programmes for all ages (the PYP, the MYP and the DP).The school is located in the heart of Asok, one of Bangkok’s major business districts. Other established, high-profile international schools in Thailand include the British independent schools of Harrow, Shrewsbury and Bromsgrove. 

More schooling options

Based on the healthy growth of its international-school community, Thailand has an aspiration to become a centre for international education in Southeast Asia. This suggests there will be continued government support for new international schools, and continued accessibility of places for local children – a move that helps to drive the growth of schools.Following the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in January 2016 the number of international schools is expected to continue growing. This single market, involving a number of Southeast Asian countries, aims to expand business opportunities, enticing more multinationals to the region. 
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