As well as being known as Thailand’s oldest British international school, the all-through Bangkok Patana School has a reputation for academic success in IGCSEs and the IBDP, as well as its sporting and artistic achievements.
As Thailand's oldest and largest British international school, Bangkok Patana School has certainly stood the test of time. Since opening in 1957, this all-through school has gained a reputation for top-scoring IGCSE and IBDP results, excellence in sports, and its outstanding campus facilities. A large not-for-profit school with more than 2,200 students from 18 months to 18 years, Patana is also well-known for its extensive offering of over 400 extra-curricular activities, its impressive arts facilities, its sports programmes, and its multilingual language programme.
Located in Bangna, in the south-east corner of Bangkok, Patana follows the EYFS and the National Curriculum for England up to Year 11; Year 10 students take their IGCSEs, and Years 12 and 13 students study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The school welcomes parents with the message that it offers a truly well-rounded education, both in and out of the classroom. In fact, the school is so proud of its all-round excellence that it publishes an annual Student Achievement book to capture it.
“Our school has a proud record of achievement for nearly 60 years – academic, sporting and artistic – and we celebrate the distinctive accomplishments of each of our students.”
Read about our tour of the campus here.
A British international education
Founded as a British international school, Patana remains very true to its roots. As well as following the National Curriculum for England and adopting a strong pastoral and house system, the majority of teachers at Patana are from the UK, and around 24% of students are British. That said, Patana embraces its international setting by offering the IBDP, welcoming around 65 different nationalities (with a 20% cap on Thai students) and teaching no less than 13 different languages.
The school says, "We’re keen on keeping the school very international.”
There are several nods to the school's Britishness, though, including a classic red telephone box, a London Underground-themed English department, and celebrations for events such as the Royal Wedding.
Patana admits children from as young as 18 months to its nursery classes, which are separate from the school and offer flexible timings. The school's FS1 and FS2 classes follow the UK’s EYFS and are located within a new dedicated foundation building on campus. Facilities for the school’s youngest entrants include a learn-to-swim pool; indoor exploration areas; music, movement, and sleep rooms; outdoor play areas; a variety of ICT tools; library; and gardens.
From Year 1 onwards, students follow the first two Key Stages of the National Curriculum for England and have specialist lessons in music, art, PE, ICT, Thai culture, and modern foreign languages (from Year 3). The primary school is run by a dedicated head teacher, and each year group has a dedicated floor with collaborative learning pods and classrooms.
Also run by a dedicated head teacher, Patana’s secondary school takes students from Year 7 through to 13. Learning follows the National Curriculum for England and leads up to students taking their IGCSEs in Year 11; the curriculum then becomes more international in Years 12 and 13 when students study for the IBDP.
Patana is a large and non-selective school but, reassuringly, it does have the programmes in place to address students' individual needs, such as careers coordinators, counsellors, an English as an additional language department, and learning support teachers.
Mick Smith, head teacher of the secondary school, adds,
“Although we are large, a great strength of the school is our UK-based pastoral system where each child is part of a tutor group of not more than 22 students overseen by a tutor who is their first and most frequent point of contact in the school.”
Technology is incorporated into lessons within all year groups – from videoconferencing and data logging to music composition and podcasts – and students in Years 6 through to 13 use their own laptops in class.
Sal Flint, head of libraries at Bangkok Patana School, shares her recommended reading list here.
You would expect some outstanding exam results from such a well-established school – and you won’t be too disappointed. Patana’s 2018 IB cohort achieved a 98% pass rate and an average score of 35, which is considerably higher than the global average of 29.78. Two students achieved the maximum score of 45 (out of approximately 300 in the world) while 18% of the cohort attained 40 points or more. The majority went on to study at a UK or US university.
In the 2018 IGCSEs, 83% of all grades were awarded A* – B, and 61.5% of all IGCSE grades achieved were at A*/A. 17% of students achieved all IGCSE grades at Grades A*/A, and 36% of students achieved eight or more A*/A grades. Art and PE were graded under the new 9-1 system, and 36.4% of grades in these two subjects were awarded at grade 8/9 (the equivalent of A*).
Patana gets top marks for its language programmes, which start from a young age and encourage multilingualism. Students in Year 3 are given a short introductory course in all five languages on offer – French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish – and Years 4 to 6 then select one language to study, including the option of Thai. In addition, all students in Years 1 to 6 follow the Thai Language and Culture programme, which is taught by Thai nationals to help students “learn and appreciate the culture and language of the host country”.
The school also runs an extensive home languages programme that offers extra-curricular lessons to multilingual students in their native tongue. Language classes include French, Italian, Japanese, German, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, Hindi, Russian, Chinese Mandarin, Singaporean Mandarin, and Dutch. This is supported by dedicated Dutch and Singaporean Mandarin teachers on campus, as well as a Thai language department.
Patana means 'development' in Thai, and if there’s one area where the school has really developed, it’s within the arts. In 2010, the school opened an impressive arts centre, which includes the 600-seat Rosamund Stuetzel theatre, a 300-seat black box, practice and rehearsal rooms, an orchestra practice room, multi-media production studios, and art and drama studios.
As well as encouraging high academic standards, Patana gives students plenty of opportunity to display their singing, dancing, artistic, dramatic, and musical talents from foundation stage through to graduation. Drama performances alone include annual productions, house drama competitions, and inter-school festivals. Patana also organises drama trips, art exhibitions, and guest artist visits.
In the school’s own words,
“Students learn a lot about themselves through performance experiences. They develop important skills that will prove most valuable in whatever context they find themselves. That is why it is so important to offer as many performance opportunities as possible in the school environment.”
In terms of music, the school’s website boasts that,
“Music is given high priority and the skills and appreciation of music are taught and encouraged across the two schools. Children perform regularly in school productions and concerts, and at functions around Bangkok where they represent the school.”
All students in Years 7, 8, and 9 learn a chosen instrument and attend music lessons in performance ensembles rather than class groups; these ensembles include string, Thai instrument, vocal, concert band, and guitar. In Years 10 to 13, the school’s music curriculum focuses on performing, composing, listening, and appraising. The school also has an instrumental music programme that teaches more than 25 different instruments to around 600 students, and works towards external music exams.
Art is hugely popular at Patana, with many students taking art in their IGCSEs and for the IBDP.
The school says,
“One of the attractions of studying art at Bangkok Patana School is the variety of media that students have access to such as large etching press and smaller presses, silk-screening, photography, ceramics and collage.”
Patana’s sports teams are known as the Tigers, and there’s definitely a tiger spirit running high across this school. One glance at the school’s trophy cabinet says it all – the school is the reigning BISAC (Bangkok International Schools) and FOBISIA (Federation of British International Schools in Asia) champion, and runner-up at the SEASAC 2017 (South East Asia Students Activity Conference). The naming of the teams in different year groups, from the Tiger Prawns up to the Tiger Sharks, also helps to reinforce the strong sense of community at this school.
The school has a strong sports programme that focuses on basketball, football, tee-ball, athletics, gymnastics, and swimming; there are also teams for adventure sports, including sailing, climbing, and bouldering. From foundation through to graduation, students take part in annual swimming galas, sports days, inter-class tournaments, an aquathlon run and swim challenge, and record breakers where students compete in running, jumping, and throwing events.
Outside of school, students are encouraged to take part in matches and competitions, and sign up to the many extra-curricular activities on offer. Clubs include the Patana Tigers Tennis, the Tiger Sharks swimming club, and the Bangkok Patana gymnastics programme (that follows the Australian Levels National Development Programme). These three programmes run after-school at the school's impressive facilities for tennis, swimming, and gymnastics; there are plans to open dance, drama, and football programmes in the future.
Beyond the classroom
International schools are renowned for taking learning beyond the formal classroom, and Patana is no different. One-week residential camps are held every November across Thailand for each year group (from Year 3), and there is a varied programme of field trips and educational visits to places of interest around Bangkok. Popular events on the academic calendar include themed learning expos, international day, and the first-ever TEDxYouth Event in South East Asia, TEDxBangkokPatanaSchool.
The school runs more than 400 different ECAs, ranging from ballet and Mandarin to the environmental club and horse riding. At secondary level, students are given the opportunity to take part in the International Award (known in the UK as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award) and the Model United Nations.
The academic year runs from August to June.
For parents interested in transport services, Patana operates its own school bus service; it also offers students a Patana card that can be loaded with credit to be used in the canteen, snack bars, and noodle bar. All meals served in the canteens are cooked in-house.
PHSE, soft skills and community service
As well as developing digital skills, Patana’s well-rounded education focuses on all-important life skills. Junior and senior delegates act as role models to younger students while developing their leadership skills; the student council and student environmental committee are both active voices for all students. Also, students take part in various community projects ranging from fundraising days to voluntary service – and secondary students are encouraged to help others through tutor and year group projects, extra-curricular activities, and as part of the Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) component of the IB programme.
Patana has moved four times since it was founded within a small bungalow, and the campus today is divided between the primary and secondary schools. Each school has its own modern classrooms, canteen, and play areas.
Several parts of the school have recently been renovated, and the learning spaces in early years and primary are particularly modern. Both schools share facilities, including sports pitches, tennis courts, a huge sports hall with climbing wall, dance studios, spin bikes and fitness studio, hard courts, and swimming pools. Across the road, via a pedestrian bridge, the school has dedicated facilities for rugby and tennis, as well as an outdoor classroom. There's also a uniform shop on campus and staff accommodation located next to the school.
Admission and fees
Patana is a non-selective school that has two different application processes, one for the school’s Thai intake (which is limited to 20%) and another for international students. Fees range from THB 595,100 in Year 1 up to THB 796,600 in Year 13, and canteen fees are included in the tuition fees for Nursery through to Year 6.
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