Bangkok is a city or area with many “international” schools, or at least it a city or area where many schools define themselves as being international schools. It is certainly too extreme to say that “international” education in Bangkok is some kind of racket or scam, but parents searching for a suitable school for their children must be careful, as a school advertising itself as an “international” school might not really be what parents have in mind when they think about international schools. For example, many “international” schools have very few foreign students or teachers!!!! They are almost exclusively Thai in the make-up of their student body and faculty! They define themselves as being an international school on the basis that they say – and this word “say” is very important - that the curriculum is taught in English. Certainly, parents must be suspicious of such a proposition. Often, these students have virtually no understanding of English – or French or German or any other foreign language – so it is really hard to imagine that the exclusive language of instruction is a foreign language. Therefore, parents really must be careful when considering an appropriate school for their children.
There are many things to think about when selecting a school. It is recommended that the following be considered before thinking about more usual items such as cost:
most international schools in Bangkok follow a British curriculum, and some follow an American curriculum. Of course, there are a few schools focused on the curriculums of other countries or nationalities such as China, Japan, France and Germany. Obviously, it can’t be said that a particular curriculum is best for a child. Selecting a curriculum, of course, depends on where parents are from, plans they have for their child, and/or where they think their child will live latter in life. It is recommended that parents check with various sources to see that a school actually teaches from a curriculum it claims to teach from. In many cases, this is not easy. Parents often lack the knowledge of exactly what a “curriculum” is or should be. Many countries, such as the United States, do not have a single “curriculum,” but parents can inquire about the textbooks used, the backgrounds of the teachers and so forth.
these are two edged swords and do not actually always guarantee quality education but they can be very important in a, literally, “foreign” situation as they strongly indicate that a particular school conforms to at least some standards, and it is serious about education! Schools in most modern societies must meet certain standards to be accredited by either their governments or by professional organizations, and these accreditations can be extended to schools in foreign countries, at least by professional and private accreditation boards. There are many forms of accreditation, and it is generally advisable to insist that a prospective school have at least some respected accreditations.
Background of Students:
schools have this information and parents should insist on knowing where the students at a prospective school come from. Parents should ask if most of the students are from English speaking countries or are Thai. Reputable schools provide this information without any hesitancy. It should be pointed out that a rather large number of native Thai students is not necessarily a “problem,” as some schools have large numbers of Thai students that have lived and studied overseas, but it is probably unlikely most parents would select a school where almost all the students are Thai. One must also be aware that Indians and Pakistanis will constitute a large percentage of foreign students in some schools.
Background of Teachers:
one should try to learn about prospective teachers. One should ask prospective schools where their teachers are originally from and about their educational credentials. It is worthwhile to see if children are taught by teachers who have been trained in the subjects which they specifically teach. It should also be pointed out though, that many teachers might be considered “unqualified” simply because they do not have education degrees… and many experts believe that this is a very poor way to estimate the “real” capability of teachers. Parents should also not automatically reject native Thai teachers as many of them have studied overseas and have degrees from foreign universities.
parents should also check and/or inquire about such items as class size, school facilities, availability of extra curricular activities, location… and of course cost.
this is always an important consideration in education. Obviously, parents who are paying for private education have a right to expect a reasonable class size. A problem parents might not anticipate is that classes might be too small. Also, since some schools have relatively few students in certain age groups, they might aggregate the students. In this case, a student might be in a class with significantly younger or older students.
the condition of classroom facilities is generally NOT a problem at most international schools. Parents do need to check and see if see “auxiliary” facilities such as gymnasiums, libraries and cafeterias meet their ideas of what a satisfactory facility is.
Extra curricular activities:
clubs and sports are an important part of education in most countries, so parents should check to see if these activities are available at prospective schools. Parents need to know if they are supervised, and if school facilities and resources are devoted to these facilities. Many international schools are essentially “go home after school” types of places and do not provide students with much in the way of extra curricular activities. For younger students, of course, this is probably appropriate.
international schools in Bangkok are focused, as one might expect, around Sukhumwit Road, and the Silom-Sathorn Road area. Thus, most parents will not have difficulty finding a school that is convenient. Parents might want to check if the school is near a BTS or MRT station.
this is an important consideration in the selection of an international school. Unfortunately, international schools can be very expensive. Average yearly tuition is around 100,000 baht per student, and, of course, there are usually other fees to pay. Parents should ask about additional fees. Some schools charge by the year, other charge by the semester – there are usually two or three semesters a year. Parents need to know about terms of payment.