• Quiet neighbourhood location
• Easily accessible by car
• Large green and leafy campus
With its distinctive red buildings and blue turrets, KIS has plenty of charm and character. Located in a quiet road within a tree-lined, gated residential community, this all-through school makes a great first impression. The campus is a spread-out site of colourful mid-rise buildings surrounded by mature greenery with trees and sizeable grass, turfed playing fields and the addition of a new arts and design building. It has a neighbourhood feel that lacks in many city centre schools, yet it is just a 30-minute drive from central Bangkok.
It’s a school that looks well-established and has the ‘lived in’ feel of a campus that opened 20 years ago, although it’s fair to say that the almost quirky architecture distracts from the fact that its buildings are not the newest in Thailand. That said, there are display boards outside showing designs for a new extension, which suggests this school is moving with the times and expanding for the future.
There are two main gates with car drop off areas, and security is present at both entrances.
• New facilities opened 2019
• Self-contained primary and secondary schools
• Plenty of outdoor space
• Shared specialist facilities, with strong focus on STEAM
KIS does not have all the glitz and glamour of some other international campuses – and it’s certainly smaller and older than some other all-through schools in the area – but it does have some impressive, contemporary facilities (with more to come) and we quickly discovered that it has a very modern approach to education and teaching the IB programme. This school was purpose-built to teach the IB programme, and it shows.
Built more than 20 years ago, the campus has plenty of open spaces, wide open corridors and atriums within the main buildings; these are put to great use as exhibition spaces for IB units of inquiry and for collaborative learning. There are also refurbished sections of the school which have a modern, stylish design but still blend in with the wooden, earthy décor of the older architecture. We also have to give a mention to the various wildlife roaming freely around the campus, including turtles and chickens.
The campus is home to a primary school with classrooms designed for the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), a computer lab equipped with Chromebooks and iPods, a drama studio, multi-purpose room, gymnasium and a PYP library. The building was renovated in 2016 to include “acoustic classrooms” that are designed to offer a better learning environment. The early years centre is conveniently located on the ground floor, and there are dedicated shaded play areas for the early years and primary students.
The secondary school building features a library and media centre, study areas, IBDP lounge and study centre, language suites, art suite, design and IT labs, and science labs. A central point in the secondary school is the new showcase stair, which is both a functional and architectural feature, and we can imagine it becomes a popular meeting place for students between lessons.
KIS says: “It’s nice to have the primary and secondary schools separate but close enough for students to mix and share facilities and ideas.”
Students in all grades share facilities including music suites, a dance studio, rooftop 25m swimming pool, wading pool, 300-seat canteen, playgrounds, covered sports courts and playing fields. It was quick and easy to walk along covered walkways between all facilities, and there was never a sense of overcrowding in any part of the school.
The school is constantly being upgraded and improved, and we look forward to seeing the latest addition – a modern block with an IT design centre and 3D printing department, STEAM centre and exhibition space, basketball court and swimming pool.
There’s a strong STEAM programme here, and KIS’ makerspace offers students plenty of hands-on experiences. As well as resources such as Lego and toolboxes for building projects, the school is well-equipped with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) facilities. We saw an augmented reality sandbox that is sued by students to study the flow of water, and an AR t-shirt that students used alongside iPads to ‘see’ inside the human body from a 3D perspective.
KIS says: “STEAM is a big programme here, and it runs throughout the school. It is not unusual to see technology being used in the classroom, but augmented reality and virtual reality are game changers, bringing in-depth, awe-inspiring experiences into the classroom.”
Art, drama, music and D&T are all strong departments with many students going on to pursue further studies in these subjects at diploma level. We saw new music suites well-equipped with violins and other instruments; There’s also a 600-seat auditorium that’s used for school performances and events such as Battle of the Bands; during our visit, an author was presenting to a group of students from KIS and neighbouring schools. It’s an example of how KIS has become well-established within the local community, which is the advantage of an older school.
KIS says: “There are six different instruments that students have to learn throughout a year, and all students have the opportunity to continue learning an instrument in our after-school programme.”
In the corridors and classrooms of each grade, there is floor to ceiling displays of students’ project, written and creative work. Throughout the campus, there are also consistent messages about the different units of study in the IB programme; we saw examples of IB project work ranging from states of matter to creating sustainable growth in different countries. Also on the walls, we saw posters advertising various events organised by KISPA.
KIS says: “The KIS Parents Association does a lot of different projects, hosting parent forums, community service projects and school events at Halloween, Christmas and so on. They are very active.”
The school has the feeling of a college-style campus and students moved happily and around as lessons change; we particularly liked to hear the traditional hand-bell being run at the end of break. We saw children in the three different uniforms, which clearly identify the students in primary, middle and high school.
• Plenty of student work on display
• IB-style classrooms and learning areas
• Well-equipped, inspiring learning environments
Kindergarten is located on the ground floor of the primary building, and all classes lead to an outside area with sand and water play tables, role play stations and PYP learning resources; as students get older they move upstairs. Some of these classrooms and shared areas are nearly 20 years old, and there is lots of wooden furniture rather than brightly coloured plastic; this can be an appealing alternative to the glitzy facilities at some of Thailand’s newer campuses. The classrooms here are large, which is typical of older schools.
In the primary and secondary schools, each grade is three-form entry and has IB-style classrooms with desks arranged in circles and a central area with breakout spaces. The classrooms mature with the student, and in the higher grades we saw spaces for private study and less decorated walls.
There’s a huge celebration of learning at KIS, and we saw student exhibitions on every floor; the school also actively encourages and promotes sustainability and recycling.
In a Grade 5 classroom we saw fantastic examples of the IB’s Sharing the Planet unit of inquiry. Students were attempting to ‘grow’ a world map using planted coriander and parsley seeds, pots of blue water, and dishes of sand. In a different project looking at how anchors can damage the coral reef, students had created a coral bed from recycled plastic bottles; and another group of students had created bags out of recycled t-shirts as an alternative to plastic bags.
KIS says: “It’s a good unit where students take action and do something to help the planet. We’ve reflected on other exhibitions around the school and deliberately made this very hands-on. Everything is about getting people to think and to do, we want them to respond and take part.”
“There’s a lot of interaction with other grades where students present their work and get feedback, and they teach other grades what they have learnt as well.”
In another class we saw examples of a How We Organise Ourselves project, where students were building bridges over 30cm using five newspapers and 1.2m of Sellotape.
KIS says: “It’s a teamwork challenge to look at how they organise their resources, if they delegate, how they swap ideas and so on. There’s also a cross-curricular link to our decimal work in maths.”
And, in a Grade 1 classroom we saw self-portraits of the students on the wall, which were painted as part of the Who We Are unit in the first few weeks of term.
KIS says: “It was a good ‘getting to know you’ activity.”
We found the specialist rooms to be well-equipped and individual in character. For example, the art rooms were bright and colourful, had music playing in the background, and exhibits made from recycled materials dangled from the ceiling. In a D&T class, we saw some impressive examples of 3D printing, robotics and computer programming within a workshop-style environment.
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