The benefits of an international education in Thailand

English-medium learning, globally recognised qualifications and routes to world-renowned universities are attracting globally mobile parents to Thailand's international schools as a great base for intra-regional mobility in south-east Asia.

As part of Great International Education & Schools Fair, we catch up with two of the most well-established and respected international schools in Thailand to get the inside track on why a British and international curriculum education is so appealing.Watch the webinar 
Joining Relocate Global’s Managing Editor Fiona Murchie in conversation in the Focus on International Education and Schools in Thailand webinar, available now to replay, are:

Why is international education in Thailand special?

“I do think I’m the luckiest school principal in the world,” says Sarah Osborne-James, School Principal, Regents International School, Pattaya, which is based just 15 minutes away from the beaches on Thailand’s eastern gulf coast. “I’ve got the palm trees behind me and my office is in the Clock Tower overlooking the oval.“I also think the one thing that makes us unique is that we are a happy place and it's inclusive. It’s a warm and nurturing school and our after-school activities give a buzz around the school. It’s a very happy environment.”Both Regents International School, Pattaya – part of the international Nord Anglia group – and British International School (BISP) have been part of the burgeoning international school community in Thailand for around 25 years.“We are a traditional British school in Thai culture,” says Jason Perkins, Head of Senior School, BISP, which is located on a large campus in a majestic green space on the internationally connected island of Phuket. “What separates us from many of the other great schools in Thailand is that we recognise what we are. We aspire to make our students leaders for tomorrow and want to normalise what schooling is for international students.“The joy of being in Phuket is that it is very much a caring environment. Our families really love that our teachers are open to meeting parents and students. We nurture wellbeing and we have a lot of sports and academics in the school, so our job is to really get our students to flourish and ignite passions. “The beating heart of our school is really our parents and the school partnership. We bring in everybody and we nurture their children as well. Our school is more of a community than anything else. Parents come here in the morning, they do their yoga, they do their sport, they do their swimming, then they pick up their kids and go home. In that respect, it’s very different to a typical British school.”

A transferable international education with local relevance

Each school offers an international education from Pre-Kindergarten programmes up to Year 13, with day and boarding options. Both achieve above-average examination performance that gives graduating students access to some of the best-regarded universities around the world.Curriculum choice and flexibility are vital for internationally mobile and relocating parents, something both schools are mindful of. Regents International School, Pattaya, offers the English National Curriculum from Pre-Nursery to Year 11 (GCSE) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Years 12 and 13, along with its own unique Global Citizenship Programme through the Early Years, Primary and Secondary Schools and an extensive range of extra-curricular activities.“We are an international school so we do have an international curriculum throughout the school,” says Sarah Osbourne-James. “In the primary school, we have a nursery where our children start at three. We also have Little Lions; a programme for our younger students to come and spend some time in a school environment. Around a quarter of our students go to the world’s top 50 universities each year.” BISP offers a similar approach. The school’s curriculum is based on the English National Curriculum from primary to the end of secondary school, then follows the IB programme in Years 12 and 13. As well as academic excellence, the school is also known across the south-east Asian region and internationally for hosting its prestigious BISP Soccer 7s tournament. This attracts thousands of students and parents from 41 international schools across the Middle East and Asia. A number of BISP alumni have also signed for international football teams, with others representing their country in other sports, like golf, triathlon and swimming. “We have all different types of students,” says Jason Perkins. “Students dedicated to the academics, and students who are using academics and sports to go through to top universities in America. We have a really dynamic public school in terms of where students go afterwards and we are really competitive with our results. Again, as a non-selective school, we welcome and offer pathways to all types of students. It’s an inclusive school for all learners.”

Developing the next generation of leaders

Yet an international education in Thailand at both BISP and Regents International School, Pattaya, is about much more than reaching academic and sporting potential. It is also about reaching outside the international school bubble and being an active citizen in the local community.Regents International School is part of the Round Square international-service programme, a global network that brings schools and students together with local community projects. “We want our students to be leaders and take action,” says Sarah Osborne-James. “We are fortunate we can make a positive impact in our local community. We do have community partners, whether working with other children, older people, or animals like elephants, and have ongoing partnerships that are based on equal terms. We are very proud of that.“Young people are very fortunate to come to a school like ours. Our responsibility is to share with them some of the issues that are right on their doorstep and understand those issues, contribute and make a difference.” “Our students are very privileged,” agrees Jason Perkins. “It’s up to us as educators to help develop our students’ moral compass. Our children have a wide range of local enterprises to contact here and we have access to charitable organisations for social welfare, children and eco groups. We want to train our students to be advocates, problem solve and make the solutions more fruitful. We’ve been focused on the training, the advocacy and the debating and understanding why and really building empathy skills.”

Preparation for future careers

The transferable skills and connections developed in these important service partnerships will be vital for the future world of work. Overlaying these are how these high-performing international schools in Thailand are approaching other areas critical for professional development and career paths in the coming decades, like STEAM/STEM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics).As part of the Nord Anglia group, Regents International School, Pattaya, has links with various partners like MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and The Juillard School, a world leader in performing arts education. A dedicated STEAM teacher provides a space for the children to be explicitly taught STEAM skills at primary level. This helps to instil critical and creative thinking in younger students before they move on to more subject-focused study at secondary level. “There are lots of different opportunities to explore, to make, to create and revise and talk about their projects,” says Sarah Osborne-James.“When it comes to STEM, our schools are very busy places,” says Jason Perkins. “After school on weekdays they are a hive of activity and STEM is a really key component of all of this. Bearing in mind this is a school on a tropical island, some of the biggest departments here are our design and technology and IT labs, which are well-equipped and have highly experienced staff. In a typical [non-Covid-19] year, we’d be doing lots of competitions out of Hong Kong and Singapore.”Both English-medium schools also offer impressive language programmes at primary and senior levels, including Thai, Mandarin and other world languages to round out their well-balanced international curricula delivered in caring environments and an inspiring environment.“Thailand is a fabulous place to live,” says Jason Perkins. “There is no doubt about that. It provides incredible opportunities to learn. It’s a beautiful place to live, work and bring up children. It’s a very safe and caring environment and that’s what BISP is about. You see people caring and nurturing children because we want the very best for them. We want them to be successful and we work hard for them.”“If you are thinking of coming to Thailand, then take that leap of faith and come,” says Sarah Osborne-James. “There are so many different opportunities to learn and grow – for adults and children as well. For the school, it’s a happy and nurturing place where we value the individual and offer a personalised education for each child. Our motto is ‘be ambitious’ and we are ambitious for each child. It’s all about students, but also a place.”

Follow the links for more information about international education and schools in Thailand and relocating to and doing business in Thailand.

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