Shrewsbury International School Bangkok is an export of the elite UK boarding school and popular with expat and Thai families alike. As well as offering all the academic rigour of a UK public school, it has the broad appeal of an Excellence Programme in sport, a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, and an impressive music department.
This British institution opened its school gates in 2003 and brought with it all the traditions and values of the highly reputed British Shrewsbury School – from high academic standards through to pastoral care. Here’s a school that brings all the rigour of a Shrewsbury education from the banks of the River Severn in the UK to the banks of the Chao Phraya River in the very heart of Bangkok.
This city centre school in the Bang Kho Laem district is divided into the early years, junior school (Years 1-6), senior school (Years 7-11) and sixth form (Years 12-13). It currently has 1,600 students of around 40 nationalities, follows the English National Curriculum, and offers IGCSEs and A Levels. Principal Chris Seal talks about, “a Shrewsbury education, inspired by the eminent boarding school in England”, and there’s definitely a strong sense of Britishness at this school. The teachers are mainly recruited from the UK, there’s a high population of British children, and students wear the same uniforms as their UK peers (albeit minus the blazers).
Shrewsbury Bangkok is not simply a carbon copy of the British public school, though. Whereas Shrewsbury UK is a day and boarding school for students aged 13 to 18, its Thailand version is an all-through day school for children aged three to 18 years. As well as living up to Shrewsbury UK’s reputation for academic excellence at secondary level, the school has established itself as a highly regarded primary school in Thailand. As testament to the school’s success, the Shrewsbury group is opening a second Bangkok campus (primary school only) in 2018 and a new international school in Hong Kong in 2018.
Shrewsbury follows the English National Curriculum throughout its junior and senior schools, and the majority of lessons are taught in mixed ability classes. The overall teacher to student ratio is impressive at 10:1. An education at Shrewsbury does not deviate largely from the UK model, although there are some international adjustments, and the focus of the curriculum shifts as students’ progress throughout the years.
As the school says,
"…play-based active learning and discovery gradually leads on to more complex and specialist subject matter…”
From Years 1 to 6, the classroom teacher takes lessons in English, maths, science, geography, history, PSHE (Personal, Social Health and Economic Education), design technology, and digital literacy. As part of the Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculum there are specialist classes in languages (Thai, Mandarin, French, Japanese and Spanish) and PE (including swimming), as well as music, drama and art in Years 3 to 6.
Moving up to the senior school, and Years 7 to 9 study English, maths, science, geography, history, learning for life (also known as Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education), PE, art and design, design technology, drama, foreign language and music. From Year 10, students choose their IGCSE subjects from those listed previously, as well as psychology, business studies, computing, economics, and religion, philosophy and ethics. All subjects are offered at A Level, with the exception of learning for life and English language.
In the school’s own words,
“Traditional subjects are supplemented by a series of bespoke learning programmes, created especially for Shrewsbury students that focus on their emotional and social development, as well as academic skills.”
For example, sixth formers have to enrol in Shrewsbury’s bespoke Reading the World programme, which focuses on research, analysis, debate and presentation skills that prepare them for university. There’s a unique You Time! co-curricular programme, which brings students together within house groups for various after-school activities. Also, Shrewsbury offers its students the support of its School Listening Team and four full-time learning mentors.
Achievements of all kinds
Shrewsbury says that it is, “not just about academics”, and this is reflected in its wide offering of activities both on the timetable and out of school hours.
Shrewsbury is enormously proud of its music department. Here’s a school that has a dedicated music centre with teaching and practice rooms, an Apple Mac suite, rehearsal space and a recital hall. It provides an inspirational setting for the timetabled music lessons for all students from early years to Year 9, as well as the rehearsals for the school’s orchestra, choirs, big band and other ensembles, and individual music tuition in the full range of orchestral instruments.
There are plenty of opportunities for students to find their voice through singing, dancing and acting at Shrewsbury. The school stages various plays and musicals, takes IGCSE and A Level drama students to the annual Hong Kong Performing Arts festival, and hosts the annual House SceneFest competitions and Fusion event featuring sketches, poetry, dance and comedy. Art is another important part of the Shrewsbury curriculum, and there are paintings, sculpture, pottery and installation art on display throughout the school.
Just like Shrewsbury UK, the school has a strong sporting streak. Shrewsbury says that “sport for all should be a part of school life”. As well as timetabled PE lessons, the school gives students the option of training in one of its Excellence Programmes, competing in regional events, or simply enjoying the fun of sports day and swim galas.
All students from Year 3 and above must sign up for at least one weekly extra-curricular activities – and there is plenty of choice. You-Time! activities explore leadership, lifestyle, public speaking, self-confidence, teamwork and other valuable life skills. The school’s Excellence Programme offers specialist training in music, art, drama, maths, English and sport, and entry is typically by audition or invitation only. There are also paid-for additional activities offered by external providers.
Students are encouraged to develop their leadership skills, both in and beyond the classroom. Junior and senior students can be elected to sit on the school council or as house captains, act as peace ambassadors, or simply be a class or playground monitor. Sixth formers are given more responsibility with roles such as prefects, mentors and school project leaders.
Innovation and technology
Shrewsbury is well-equipped for next generation learners with interactive whiteboards, Apple TVs, an 1:1 iPad and laptop programme from Year 5 upwards, and Apple Mac suites. The library features a Makerspace, complete with an oversized Lego wall, where junior students can take part in weekly building and crafting challenges. There’s also a new junior innovation centre equipped with 2D design and laser cutting, 3D printers, Makerspaces and working walls. The focus is as much on teaching students “how to use these tools safely and responsibly” as it is on giving them access to the latest technology.
Beyond the classroom
Shrewsbury Bangkok organises various study and residential trips for all year groups throughout the academic year, and encourages its senior students the opportunity to complete the Duke of Edinburgh International Youth Award and attend the Model United Nations.
Shrewsbury’s 2018 A Level results are well above average, and 44% of its students were graded A*-A; this is 5.5 times higher than the UK average. 70% were graded A*-A, and 97% received grades A-C. In IGCSEs, 42% of students were graded A* and 96% celebrated grades A-C.
The first thing to strike you about Shrewsbury Bangkok is its riverside location, right on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in the Bang Kho Laem district. Students even have the option of catching the free school boat service to campus, which is certainly one way to avoid the traffic!
Back on dry land and there are separate buildings for the early years, junior and senior schools, as well as a sixth form centre. Each school has dedicated play/recreational areas, and the early years centre has a soft play area with splash pool. Shrewsbury’s facilities include a 580-seat auditorium, 130 seat music recital hall, standalone music hall with studios and practice rooms, library, a learning support zone for counselling and special education needs, and a junior innovation centre.
Sports facilities include two sports fields, a running track, sports hall, gymnastics hall, tennis and squash courts, aquatics centre with learners’ pool, junior pool and championship pool, a dance studio, and a climbing wall.
There are plans in the pipeline to extend certain facilities by 2021 to meet the anticipated growth of the senior school following the opening of Shrewsbury’s new City campus primary school in 2018. While the senior school currently has 800 students, this is expected to increase to 1,300.
Admission and fees
Shrewsbury is a selective school, and the application process is designed to ensure that students will “thrive in our ambitious and academically challenging environment”.
The school charges THB 653,400 in annual tuition fees for Year 1, THB 747,900 for Year 7, and THB 959,700 for Year 12. While this is one of the most expensive international schools in Thailand, its fees do include lunch and snacks – and possibly (no guarantees, of course) a place at Shrewsbury UK. The school offers various scholarships to students who display talent in academia, art, sport, music and drama.
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