Located on the outskirts of Bangkok, Concordian International School (CIS) offers a well-rounded global education that includes all three IB programmes, an immersion programme in English-Chinese, and a four-month residential course in life skills.
Concordian International School (CIS) is Thailand’s only trilingual school to offer a full IB education. Located south of Bangkok in the Samut Prakan province, this all through school has the benefit of many years’ experience in offering the IB programme to Thai and expat students aged three to 19 years. It also stands out from the crowd by offering an English-Chinese immersion programme, a residential life skills course, and some really impressive science, arts and technology facilities.
Since being founded in 2001, CIS has established itself as a popular international school with around 890 students, 80% of whom are Thai citizens. As a full IB World School, CIS offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students 4-10 years, Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students 11-16 years, and the Diploma Programme (IBDP) for students 16-19 years. Languages of instruction are English, Thai and Chinese Mandarin, and there is full English-Chinese immersion from nursery to Grade 4.
The school says,
“At Concordian we believe that an immersion approach develops language proficiency as well as intercultural awareness, critical thinking and problem solving. Students completing the primary years immersion program enter the middle years fluent in two to three languages and with an active appreciation of the world around them.”
The school year is divided into two semesters running from August to December and from January to June, and class sizes here range from 16 in nursery to Grade 3, to 20 in Grades 4 to 12. As well as being home to a modern science, art and technology centre, CIS started the 2017 academic year with new facilities including a library, playground, sports centre and high school building.
An IB education
There are plenty of international schools in Thailand offering a part of the IB programme, but CIS is one of the few to teach all three programmes and not mix and match with other curricula either. Children as young as three enter the Primary Years Programme (PYP), which focuses on inquiry-based learning activities from nursery through to Grade 5. There are around 570 students in CIS’s PYP program, divided equally between early years and primary school.
The curriculum focuses on languages, maths, visual arts, performing arts, social studies, science, information and communication technology, and personal, social and physical education. All subjects are integrated rather than being taught in isolation. In line with the PYP structure, learning focuses on Knowledge (What do we want the students to know?), Concepts (What do we want the students to understand?), Skills (What do we want students to be able to do?), Attitudes (What do we want students to value?) and Action (How do we want students to act?).
The Middle Years Programme (MYP) runs from Grades 6 to 10 and is based on integrated learning, global engagement, and intercultural understanding. As the school says,
“The MYP does more than allow students to learn in subject areas. All students study individuals and societies, language and literature, language acquisition, maths, design, arts, sciences, and physical and health education.”
In Grades 11 and 12, students enter the IBDP, which includes humanities, at least two languages, experimental science, maths and the arts. Other core requirements of the IBDP include an extended essay, the Theory of Knowledge course, and Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) activities. Students also graduate from the school with a Concordian high school diploma.
As well as immersing students in English, Chinese and Thai languages, CIS focuses strongly on science, art and technology combined – and many lessons are held in the school’s dedicated Science, Art and Technology Centre (SATC) for these three subjects. Also, the IB programmes feature technology at every level. There are well-equipped computer labs, iPads and computers in all classrooms, a BYOD policy from Grade 6, and CIS’ own app for communicating with parents.
CIS runs an immersion programme in English-Chinese from nursery to Grade 4, and teaches the curriculum in both languages; from Grade 5 onwards, the main language of instruction is English and there are separate English and Chinese lessons. By the time students reach high school, you can expect them to be not just fluent but literate in two languages.
The school says,
“By immersing children from an early age in a language-rich environment, and through a content-based curriculum, CIS greatly improves chances of acquiring near-native fluency and pronunciation.”
CIS is the only school authorised by the International Baccalaureate to offer English-Chinese immersion in the primary years, and its students are encouraged to “naturally acquire Chinese as a second language”. Far from following a textbook approach, CIS makes language learning fun and enjoyable through activities such as brush calligraphy, cooking, kung fu, and the celebration of Chinese festivals.
CIS is a trilingual school as Thai language is taught every day from nursery to Grade 5, and every other day in all other grades.
Activities and after-school
There are plenty of after-school activities and sport programmes that run alongside the IB programme at CIS. Students in all grades sign up for at least one extra-curricular activity per semester, choosing from a varied list of ballet, basketball, Chinese calligraphy, choir, drama, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, pottery, piano, violin, and many more.
In terms of sport, CIS fields its Concordian Dragons teams in various interscholastic events, and runs an athletics programme in basketball soccer, badminton, tennis, swimming, volleyball, track and field, table tennis and golf.
Community and Service (CAS) is an integral part of the MYP and IBDP, and students have the opportunity to get involved with various projects in the local community. There are also several student initiated organisations that raise funds for good causes. The school enhances its IB curriculum by organising various field trips throughout the academic year, hosting student art exhibitions, staging annual talent shows and plays, and organising student internships.
Life skills programme
Most schools cover life skills during class time in programmes such as the IB’s personal, social and physical education (PSPE) – but CIS goes one step further by offering a four-month residential life skills programme. All students in Grades 8 to 12 are given a ‘life-changing’ opportunity to live on campus and learn everything from changing a tyre and replacing a lightbulb to sewing on a button and doing the laundry. During their three-month stay, students also learn to budget the monthly allowance in their personal bank account; spend an hour every day without any electronic equipment; and take part in outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and watching sports matches.
The school says,
“These are the essential life-learning opportunities for students to build their foundation upon so that they can go out into the world with confidence as a moral and intellectual leader.”
The programme, which is typically held during the second semester of every academic year, costs THB 20,000 per month.
The latest results posted by Concordian are for the IBDP in 2016. There was a cohort of 22 students and the average score was 32, which is just slightly higher than the global average of 30. All students went on to study at college or university.
CIS has a modern purpose-built – and architecturally stunning – campus close to the coast in Samut Prakan. The jewel in this school’s crown has to be its Science, Art and Technology Centre (SATC), which opened in 2013. The SATC includes art galleries, art studios, specialist libraries, science labs, computer centre, a radio recording studio, and a multi-purpose conference hall and theatre.
Sport facilities include a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor courts, football fields, a brand new six-lane covered 50m swimming pool, 25m swimming pool and wading pool, squash courts, and an adventure playground. There’s also a library with over 50,000 books, a kitchen for food technology classes, and a cafe for both parents and students.
Admission and fees
CIS is a non-selective school that accepts applications throughout the year. Scholarships are available for students in Grades 10 and 11 who “demonstrate a passion for excellence, leadership, and social responsibility”.
CIS is one of Thailand’s more affordable schools; fees range from THB 471,000 for nursery, THB 597,000 for Grade 1, THB 660,300 for Grade 6, and THB 725,000 for Grade 11.
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