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Brighton College Bangkok Review

The new Brighton College Bangkok aims to replicate the British public school education offered at its high-profile sister school in the UK. This all-through, academically selective school is promising a challenging academic curriculum, outstanding pastoral care, and wide choice of extra-curricular activities.
At a glance
School phase
All through
Curricula taught
Availability 2018/19
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Availability 2019/20
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Annual fee average
THB 720,500
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2016
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
David Tongue
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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Brighton College Bangkok
School phase
All through
Curricula taught
Availability 2018/19
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked No data
Annual fee average
THB 720,500
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2016
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
David Tongue
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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First Published:
Thursday 28 September, 2017

Updated:
Thursday 28 September, 2017

The new Brighton College Bangkok aims to replicate the British public school education offered at its high-profile sister school in the UK. This all-through, academically selective school is promising a challenging academic curriculum, outstanding pastoral care, and wide choice of extra-curricular activities.

Brighton College Bangkok brings a very British education to Bangkok. As the sister school of Brighton College UK, which is one of the UK’s top independent schools, we would expect nothing less. This all through school for students aged two to 18 years replicates the authentic Brighton College experience, from the academic rigour of its curriculum through to the traditional house system.

Its purpose-built 20-acre campus in the Krungthep Kreetha area of eastern Bangkok opened with a pre-prep school (nursery to Year 4) in 2016; the prep school (Years 5 to 8) and senior school (Years 9 to 13) opened in September 2017. It’s still early days for this international school but, based on the success of its UK sister school and the two strong openings of Brighton College outposts in the UAE, we have high expectations.

The school has the capacity for up to 1,500 students, boys and girls. It follows the UK curriculum, which works towards IGCSEs and A Levels for senior students. All students sit the Common Entrance in Year 8, a set of exams that are required by some of the UK’s top academically selective secondary schools and are renowned for their rigorous syllabus and breadth of subjects. The academic year runs from September to July.

The founding head teacher at Brighton College Bangkok is David Tongue, who previously led Brighton College Al Ain in the UAE. More than 20% of the teaching staff come directly from Brighton College, and more than 75% have worked at leading independent schools in the UK.

We’ve seen the Brighton College model work well internationally. Brighton College Abu Dhabi is a WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Top School, and it has been rated Very Good by the Abu Dhabi Education Council; its sister school in Al Ain is rated Outstanding. You sense a strong culture of excellence at Brighton College Bangkok, which is an academically selective school with a demanding curriculum and very academic environment.

In the school’s own words,

“Our expectations are high but children rise to these challenges and thrive on the opportunities that they are awarded.”

A very British education
Brighton College Bangkok follows the English National Curriculum throughout all year groups – and the school channels children for achievement and excellence from a very young age.

The pre-prep school talks about “supporting, challenging and inspiring every child to achieve their very best academically, in the arts and sporting arenas”. As well as focusing on the academic subjects of reading, writing, phonics, grammar, punctuation, spelling, mathematics, computer science and science, the school has specialist teachers in the arts, music and sport. The UK curriculum has been adapted to include entrepreneurship, astronomy and space travel; the school also combines history and geography to teach humanities as a single subject. All students from the age of four learn both Thai and Mandarin Chinese, and children are introduced to music by learning the ukulele and recorder.

The website says,

“We believe passionately in offering a wide range of sporting activities to all children from the outset, whatever their ability, celebrating successes and effort, as well as giving children their first taste of competitive play. We have purpose-built art rooms and dance studios ensuring that children are encourage and inspired creatively from their earliest school days.”

At the new prep school, students in Years 4 to 8 study maths, PE, music, science, wellbeing, performing arts, two languages from French, Mandarin, Spanish and Thai, computing, art, English, and design and technology. The UK curriculum is given an international tweak to include lessons in Thai culture and the ‘story of our land’. Specialist teaching is introduced across the curriculum from Year 5, whereas most British schools will introduce this from Year 7.

“Children in Year 5 are at the right age to really benefit from this; their thirst for knowledge and love of learning makes them ready for the challenge. The advantage of teachers who are passionate about their subject is invaluable.

“Children who learn in a science laboratory with a science specialist and have the opportunity to use a dedicated design and technology suite at this age will have a more in-depth learning experience and the opportunities to really explore the practical side of such subjects.”

Once again there’s a lot of talk about “stretching and challenging” students within the school, so parents can expect their child to be pushed academically here. While the school stresses that learning should be fun, it does have high academic expectations. Internal exams take place annually until Year 8, when students sit the Common Entrance exam; the school says this teaches students, “the fundamentals of exam technique and revision skills while providing a strong foundation for senior school and beyond”.

To prepare for the Common Entrance exam, students complete KS3 a year earlier than most British schools, which means that they start preparing for IGCSE courses in Year 9 rather than Year 10. The school has been structured to encourage leadership and independence from a young age. Whereas most British schools start senior school in Year 7, Brighton College starts in Year 9. This gives Year 7 and 8 students the opportunity to act as young leaders and role models for the prep school, and an incentive in their final year is the Year 8 Brighton College Prep School Award.

Once in senior school, students study for their IGCSEs – English language, English literature, maths, physics, chemistry, biology and four ‘option’ subjects. In the sixth form, the majority of students are expected to take four A Levels, with a choice of English, maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, biology, languages, economics, history, geography, art and design, design and technology, computing, and music.

The Brighton College experience
As we’ve seen in the UK and the UAE, the Brighton College brand isn’t just about academic excellence. A house system, a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, and a strong emphasis on wellbeing are all part of its DNA. While many schools will have a house system, it’s often limited to grouping students into teams for competitions. At Brighton College, though, the house system is what you’d expect at a boarding school; it provides considerable pastoral care to students.

All students are assigned to one of four houses, where house masters and mistresses and tutors “play an integral part in each child’s life at the college”. Each house has a physical base or hub within the school where students can socialise, study or meet with teachers; the houses sit together for lunch every Friday; there are house competitions in sport and non-sporting events; and the houses meet every morning and afternoon. It does feel as if students are getting the benefits of a boarding experience without having to stay the night. As the school says,

“Good pastoral care is not just an ‘add on’ or something that happens when things go wrong.”

Wellbeing is central to an education at Brighton College, and with all the talk about turning out “respectful” and “polite” students, you should expect your child to leave the school as well-mannered as they are educated. There’s a daily wellbeing session that can include tutor time, PSHE, assemblies, service-related activities or house time. Throughout the year, students contribute to a Kindness Charter and take part in events such as Healthy Living day.

Sport and the arts
The family of Brighton College schools has a reputation for the quality of its arts performances. Not only are the arts an important part of the curriculum, they are well represented in the school’s extra-curricular programme. Lessons include drawing and sketching, painting with different media, modelling, weaving, photography and computer aided design, as well as drama and expressive arts, poetry and scripts. As well as hosting annual productions, the school offers students the opportunity to take part in choir, orchestra and individual instrumental music tuition.

In terms of sport, the school certainly has the facilities to develop talent in swimming, athletics and much more. In addition to the PE element of the curriculum, the school expects all students to commit to at least one team sport in its ECA programme; this is expected to include football, basketball, netball, tennis, touch rugby, swimming, dance, gymnastics, orienteering and badminton.

Beyond the classroom
There are many ways in which Brighton College Bangkok takes learning outside the classroom. It promises to offer an extensive programme of extra-curricular activities. There’s also a trips programme that runs throughout the prep school; this starts with a simple residential experience such as Night in the Library for Year 4, and builds up to a five-day residential trip for Year 8. 

The school is still in its infancy but it does have plans to develop a community service programme, organise charitable events, and run a young ambassadors programme that will focus on real-life careers.

Results
Although the college is a few years away from delivering its first cohort of IGCSE and A Level students, it does make this bold pledge to parents.

“It is expected that the majority of pupils at Brighton College Bangkok will achieve A* and A grades at IGCSE level.”

For reference, 91% of Brighton College UK grades were A* to A in GCSE, and 77% were A* to A in A Level. Could this be a hint of what’s to come from Brighton College Bangkok?

The campus


The school's theatre

Brighton College Bangkok has a purpose-built, low rise campus that’s surrounded by greenery. You’ll find the state-of-the-art classrooms equipped with the latest technology, a library that flows throughout the campus, dedicated hubs for each house, and a performing arts centre with a 650-seat theatre, music practice rooms and instrumental teaching room.

Sports facilities include a 50m and 25m swimming pool, sports hall, sports pitches, a fitness centre and dance studio, athletics track, and tennis courts.

Admission and fees
Brighton College Bangkok is a selective school and all students will need to pass the entrance exam and interview to be accepted. It’s also one of the most expensive schools in Thailand, with fees ranging from THB 680,000 for Year 1 up to THB 750,000 for Year 7 and THB 816,900 for Year 12.

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