There are over 120 international school in Bangkok. A variety of curriculum is offered with the most common being American, British and The International Baccalaureate. Parents have an enviable task of selecting the right school for their child and it will be one of the most important decisions a family will make. There are many factors that parents need to consider when making this decision and I offer some suggestions to help parents when considering a school for their child.
Location Location Location
Bangkok is a very large city in terms of area and transportation within the city can be problematic. The proximity of your residence to a school is an important factor. I suggest you draw a circle around your residence and include schools within reasonable travel distance. You do not want your children taking up valuable time travelling to school in a car or bus. I know families where children are in buses for 1 hour to and from school. This means a total of 10 hours each week is spent in travelling. Most parents try to select a school within reasonable travel times. Another factor is that if your child will be participating in after school activities, travel time will be a consideration.
Quality time spent with family and friends is just as important as time at school.
What Curriculum is offered at the School
International Schools in Bangkok offer a variety of curriculum and parents need to undertake some research on curriculum to determine which is best suited to their child and the aspiration of the parents.
There are significant differences between American, British and International Baccalaureate Schools.Within the primary, the subjects may be similar but the teaching and learning activities are different. At Secondary school, the approaches vary quite considerably and some curricula offer external examinations while others offer continual assessment. What is different to other schools or the same? Is your child an inquiring individual or would you like him or her to develop such skills? Is your child one that sits more comfortably in an environment that is teacher-led rather than student-driven?
Parents need to ask many questions as they visit schools to ensure they are confident their child will join and participate happily in the school environment. Many parents request information on the availability of modern foreign languages eg French or Mandarin in addition to other curriculum offerings.
Parents know their children best and need to ensure they gain the information they need to ensure the school programmes meet the needs of their children.
You know your child, so you need to ask the questions and ascertain if the answers match your desires for the education to which you feel your child is best suited.
Visit the School
The best way to gain a perception of a school’s suitability for your child is to visit the school. The perceptions can start from the initial conversation and greeting when you first enter the school. Often the first few minutes set the tone for the entire school visit.Some points to consider:
- What was your sense about students and staff? Did everyone seem happy and contented in that environment?
- How did students respond to you as a visitor as you walked around the campus and stopped by in classrooms?
- Were the teaching faculty and admissions team members friendly and responsive to your questions? Did you sense a genuine warmth of relationships within the school community?
- Were there displays of student work visible around the campus?
- What was your sense of the level of technology integration within the school?
- Last, but not least, make sure you see all the facilities available to the students and if the school has more than one campus, be sure to visit both campuses.
When visiting classrooms, make sure you listen, observe and ask questions. Schooling is now very different from when you attended school so keep your mind open to differences and new methodologies and technologies . If you are visiting numerous campuses, remember to compare and contrast your overall perceptions and ask the question- “Will my child be successful in this educational environment”
Assessment: An Essential Part of the Admission Process
All international Schools in Bangkok will have some form of assessment to determine an applicant’s suitability for admission. Schools use a variety of assessment tools including the review of previous academic reports. Some schools use formal assessments prepared by the school and others prepared by external organisations. There is usually an interview scheduled for prospective new students.
Children can get very nervous during this process and it is important for parents to share that it is not always about the score, but whether your child’s personality, interests, needs, gifts and talents can be effectively catered for by the school, along with their performance in any assessment that governs the offer of a place being made.
Most parents when considering a school for their child/children, generally take a long-term view and plan for the financial commitment necessary to maintain the education for many years, usually leading to graduation. It is essential to consider the financial implications and budget accordingly. It is important to remember that international schools will often raise the tuition fees on an annual basis and financial planning needs to take this into account.
Parents often invite their children to visit prospective schools but be reminded that children may be impressed and influenced by facilities but they are not blessed with mature experiences and you cannot expect them to make an informed choice. Neither do they have the wisdom to do. It is important to hear their point of view but school choice is a parental responsibility. My strongest recommendation is that parents do not shirk from that responsibility.
School choice is one of the most important decisions a parent can make for the future of their children. Parents need to make informed decisions after gathering data from school marketing materials, website reviews, campus and classroom observations together with personal perceptions of school leaders and the people involved with teaching and learning. Enjoy the experience of visiting schools, learning about the curriculum and how each school can meet the needs of your child.
Good luck with your search and please contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Dr Bruce Robinson