Located far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this Thai export of a prestigious UK public school offers students aged six to 18 years a typically British education on a large green campus with an impressive arts centre. The curriculum features IGCSES, A Levels and BTEC diplomas, as well as some creative approaches to learning.
Bromsgrove International School Thailand (BIST) has the real feel of a top-class UK independent school. From the spacious state of the art campus through to the rigorous academic education, this all through day and boarding school in the Min Buri district of Bangkok offers what has been coined the Bromsgrove Experience.
As well as recognising the importance of an academically rigorous education, the school says,
“We are also committed to producing individuals that are fully prepared for life beyond school and who possess the skills and personal qualities to succeed in a changing and increasingly globalised world.”
Since 2002, BIST has been offering a very traditional British education and adapted it to suit its international setting. Here’s a school that follows the English National Curriculum from early years through to college, and opens the door to university with its choice of IGCSEs, AS and A Levels, as well as a range of BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) diplomas. This is enhanced with various initiatives for BIST’s international community of students – including a Student Voice programme, a unique rewards scheme, and a pioneering personalised learning programme.
It’s a school that looks as good as good as it feels. As well as being located adjacent to a golf course, the school boasts some impressive facilities including a performing arts centre and modern sports facilities.
Head teacher Dr Dan Moore sums up an education at BIST, saying,
“With one foot proudly in the past, and the other firmly in the future, we provide the best of both worlds – a traditional ‘British’ education in a dynamic international setting.”
BIST is the only international export of the UK’s Bromsgrove School, which was established in 1553 and has a reputation for academic and sporting excellence. The school is also affiliated with the Daewon Foreign Language High School in Korea, an elite prep school that has a strong track record of getting students into Ivy League colleges.
BIST has two campuses – Windsor Park for students aged six to 18 years, and Bromsgrove Early Years for two to six-year-olds. The Windsor Park campus is divided into the primary school (Years 2 to 6) and the secondary school (Years 7 to 13). There are around 400 students who are mostly Thai, Korean and Taiwanese, and the majority of teachers here are British.
A British education
BIST is an academically selective school that follows the National Curriculum for England, and from primary school onwards it offers a broad and balanced education with an international slant. Class sizes are small with an average of 16 students.
The school describes its primary curriculum as “innovative, creative and child-led” and, not surprisingly at a school where more than 90% of the students speak English as an additional language, there’s a strong focus on English language skills. The weekly timetable includes a daily literacy lesson, daily session focusing on phonics, spelling, punctuation or grammar, a weekly reading lesson, and a weekly library session. Maths is also taught daily, while languages (Thai, Chinese and Korean), music and PE are all taught by specialist teachers. Other subjects – including science, humanities, ICT, and art and design – are taught using a cross curricular approach branded by the school as a Creative Curriculum.
The school says, “The ‘Creative Curriculum’ is a thematic approach to teaching and learning designed to support children’s natural curiosity and stimulate their creativity.”
From Year 6 onwards, the secondary school curriculum continues to be based upon the English National Curriculum. In Key Stage 3 earning centres on English, maths, science, ICT, humanities, drama, music, art, computing and media, Thai, Mandarin, Korean, Spanish (Year 9 only), PE. In Key Stage 4, students study for their IGCSEs and the core curriculum consists of English, maths and science, with a further four options drawn from a list of art, drama, music, media, ICT, geography, history, travel and tourism, business, economics, Thai, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish; students also have a weekly PE lesson.
Finally, in Key Stage 5, students study for their A Levels, choosing from options including English literature, maths, further maths, biology, chemistry, physics, art, drama, music, media, ICT, geography, history, business and economics. Students need a B grade at IGCSE level before they can take their A Levels. Since August 2016, students have also been offered a more vocational option of BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) diplomas.
All secondary students have a weekly BEAM (Building Effective Attitudes and Mindsets) lesson, which is BIST’s bespoke wellbeing programme that is similar to the UK’s Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) programme.
Bromsgrove has a strong record of academic excellence. In 2017, 55% of students achieved three or more A*-A grades at AS Level, and 64% achieved three or more A*, A or B grades at AS Level.
The Bromsgrove Experience
From the uniform (minus the boater) through to the active house system (including weekly House Shirt Friday), BIST draws on many traditions that have made Bromsgrove such a highly respected public school. It has also carved out its own identity with several pioneering and innovative programmes. BIST’s approach to personalised learning, known as the Mona Lisa Effect, uses data to tailor lessons to the “strengths and needs of each individual student”. Teachers use the results from the Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4) and Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS) survey to help identify a pupil’s strengths, weaknesses and learning preferences – something that has become quite a talking point in the international education arena.
BIST also launched the Polio Points programme, which rewards students with points when they excel in any of the attributes listed in the school’s Learner Profile; these ranges from being a team player to a creative thinker. These points are then used to ‘purchase’ Polio vaccines for disadvantaged children worldwide, which the school says, “incentivises student achievement and global citizenship through the provision of humanitarian aid”. It’s another example of how this school thinks out of the box.
In terms of leadership, students are encouraged to join the school’s Student Voice programme; guided by the head boy and head girl, this school council raises student concerns with the leadership team on a regular basis.
While some schools refer to it as homework or prep, BIST expects all its students to complete ‘extended learning tasks’ at home “to deepen and broaden their understanding of the curriculum”. These ‘Chilli’ and ‘Dessert’ tasks (Years 2-6), Extended Learning Opportunities (Years 7,8 and 9) and Independent Learning Tasks (Years 10-13) are said to offer students more “scope and creativity than traditional weekly homework”.
Beyond the classroom
There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their academic, sporting and arts skills during and after the school day. As well as being within walking distance of a golf course, students have a three-storey state-of-the-art arts centre on their doorstep; the Oriental Siam Performing Arts Centre opened in 2014 with a 500-seat auditorium and practice rooms.
The school says,
“BIST is determined to grow some of the very best music and drama provision in South East Asia.”
The school encourages healthy competition. BIST is a member of the Bangkok International Schools Athletic Conference (BISAC) and Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA), and it fields sports teams in football, athletics, T-Ball, swimming, basketball and golf for inter-school tournaments; all students represent their house in annual sporting events. BIST also enters teams for the academic competition, the World Scholar’s Cup.
The school day in primary and secondary runs from 7.45am until 2.45pm, except on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when students have to stay on until 3.45pm for a compulsory extra-curricular activity; there’s also the option of attending clubs on Mondays and Fridays. ECAs range from academic subjects such as English, maths and ICT to sporting activities, music, choirs, orchestra and ballet. Music and singing lessons are available alongside the regular curriculum.
School excursions include Thai culture trips, residential camps for Year 4 upwards, and camping on the school grounds for Year 3 classes. Year 10 students can take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award. The school also runs Intensive English Camps and an Intensive English and Adventure Camp every summer.
BIST offers flexible day, weekly or full boarding options for students aged nine upwards at its two boarding houses on the Windsor Park campus – Windsor House for boys and Tudor House for girls are home to around 180 boarders. Communal facilities include a TV room, games room and study room. As well as offering supervised homework and tutoring sessions, the school runs a programme of afternoon activities, sports clubs and weekend trips.
The Windsor Park Campus is green as far as the eye can see. Located next to the Windsor Park golf course, the BIST campus boasts some enviable views, peace and quiet, clean air and plenty of space to run around (and swing a golf club). It’s just a short commute to Bangkok city centre, and the benefits of being slightly out of town will make the journey worthwhile for many families.
Facilities include large classrooms, two fully equipped ICT suites, and the Oriental Siam Performing Arts Centre. As well as two boarding houses, BIST has a large swimming pool, covered basketball court, indoor air-conditioned sports hall, large sports field and a well-equipped library.
Admission and fees
BIST is a selective school, and the application procedure includes assessment tests in non-verbal reasoning and English (including reading and comprehension) and an interview.
Fees are mid-range for Thai international schools: THB 391,950 for Year 2, THB 508,740 for Year 7, and THB 522,990 for Year 12. There is also a compulsory meals fee of THB 11, 927 per term.
The school offers scholarships to all students aged six to 18 years for excellence in academia, sport, music and drama.
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