• Contemporary campus with modern facilities and decor
• Easily accessible location in central Bangkok
St Andrews makes a good first impression. It’s centrally located just off Sukhumvit Road and conveniently next to the Ekkamai BTS station. (We travelled to the campus by taxi and took the BTS home, and we can certainly vouch for the latter as the better, quicker option!) This new campus, which only opened in 2017, looks modern, well-maintained and spacious enough for its student body of 800. And, for parents with children of different ages, it’s just a quick 10-minute drive to the St Andrews primary school.
St Andrews says: “We’re 200m from the BTS so a very large proportion of our students travel to school independently – and we’re in a city where you can do this.”
The first thing that strikes you about this school is the three contemporary buildings and the large playing fields. Here’s a school that has the look and feel of a standalone secondary school – mature, neutral colour scheme and fairly quiet.
St Andrews says: “You don’t walk around this school, thinking that it’s a six-month-old school. It feels like we’ve been here for years. We brought the culture from the original campus with us. We’re always asking, are we letting students be the best they can be, is this meeting their needs, is this making sure happiness is important, is it inspiring and stimulating?"
There’s parking available on site, a drop off zone for school buses, and security barriers at the entrance.
• Dedicated facilities for secondary education
• Impressive sports facilities and outdoor spaces for a city centre school
• Well-equipped specialist classrooms
• Facilities open to students after school hours
After outgrowing its campus in Sukhumvit, St Andrews moved its secondary school to this new Srivikorn campus in 2017 – which meant that we were looking for dedicated facilities for 11 to 18-year-olds. We weren’t disappointed. We saw facilities that support a more sophisticated curricula at IGCSE and IB level, as well as specialist subjects such as performance arts. St Andrews has also created a learning environment that has been designed around the needs of secondary students, from the quiet study areas and group rooms to the wide-open exhibition spaces and sports facilities.
While it’s a large school spread across three mid-rise buildings, it’s also a very well-organised school that feels easy to navigate. St Andrews renovated the existing buildings of a former Thai government school to varying degrees, and it demolished five buildings including a 13-storey block to clear space for sports facilities. The result is a campus where students can easily move from building to building throughout the day, eat lunch in a shaded outdoor canteen; they can ‘hang out’ on the steps of college-style atrium, and take classes in dedicated art, science or music departments.
Learn more about the curriculum at St Andrews here.
There are dedicated floors for each year group where spacious, well-lit classrooms lead out onto a central area for group work and break-out sessions. St Andrews offers specialist subjects all the way through to IGCSE and the IB diploma, including drama, sport exercise, health science, and first languages in German, Japanese, French and Korean; these are taught in well-equipped rooms that range from science labs and workshops to music studios and theatre spaces. There are also a number of places available for students to work independently, either during lessons, before and after school or during breaks and lunchtimes.
St Andrews says: “We’ve looked at natural colours and spaces, and how can we reduce stress levels. Big open spaces can get very noisy and stressful, so we try to soften that with muted, balanced colours.”
There’s a huge amount of space here that’s dedicated to drama, music and the arts. We saw specialist facilities including drama classrooms, a performance hall, and a very New York-style dance studio. There are small and large practice rooms, equipped with a wide variety of instruments, music technology rooms and recording studios. Best of all, these facilities are used to the full, both during and after school hours.
St Andrews says: “We want our students to be able to use the space we have here and, because we’re a high school, we don’t have to compromise on that. We let our students stay on campus until 5pm; they can book a practice room, shoot some hoops, start a rock band, or simply chat. We supervise the spaces, and we provide the facilities and instruments, but we want the students to make the decision to be here.”
We saw students in costume for Grease; Year 7 students in a composition class studying the mood and tone of a short film clip; and Year 8 students studying dance and electronic music. It offers just a glimpse into the varied music programme here, which will appeal to both those students who can play an instrument and those who prefer to experiment with music technology. There’s also plenty of space – and enthusiasm from the teachers we met – for the school to run the popular Juilliard programme, which has “slotted in amazingly well”.
St Andrews says: “We have Juilliard alumni come in to host workshops and master classes, they observe lessons, give feedback to the teachers, and mentor Juilliard hopefuls. It’s a very empowering collaboration, and so much more than them just putting their brand name next to our school.”
Students can take part in large-scale performances such as the musical Grease, or display their work in one-night-only showcase.
St Andrews says: “We want to give students the opportunity to showcase one-off pieces of work or theatre that don’t normally get an audience, and that the parents never get to see.”
For a school located in the heart of the city, St Andrews has created a large central open space that has been thoughtfully-designed to include a playing field, swimming pool and tennis courts. Indoors there’s a gym, yoga studio, and a large sports hall that can hold the entire school. It’s a flexible space that has been used simultaneously by students playing basketball and volleyball one day, and for the launch of an MIT programme the next.
St Andrews says: “We offer football, basketball, athletics and swimming, and all our sports are full-year so there’s no seasonal sport. How can students engage in a sport if they only play it for six weeks? From Year 7, we add volleyball, rugby and water polo, fitness and conditioning, yoga, rock climbing and scuba diving. For students who don’t like the competitive sports, they will still have something they can enjoy and can be active later in life.
“We think long-term. So, rather than pushing our swimmers into traditional weight programmes too early, which can cause wear and tear, we allow them to develop in an age-appropriate way."
We didn’t hear a single bell between classes, a deliberate decision by the school to encourage independence. It’s just one of several ways in which St Andrews is focusing on soft skills and preparing its seniors for the real world.
St Andrews says: “We found that the bell was causing a lot of stress as students were timing their watches to the bell and packing their things up early. Also, we’re trying to be less negative by moving away from punishing students for being late and rewarding students for being early with ‘fun learning activity’.”
Read our interview with head of school Paul Schofield here.
• Neutral colour scheme
• Shared learning spaces
• Creative, functional use of wall space
The impact of colour certainly hasn’t been overlooked at St Andrews, which has adopted a very neutral colour scheme with muted colours throughout. There’s no clutter, brightly coloured furniture, endless displays of student art and project work. Instead, classrooms and shared learning spaces are all low-key and perfect for quiet study, collaboration or relaxation. From iPad and laptop trolleys through to interactive whiteboards, the classrooms are clearly well-equipped, but without being overshadowed by glitzy technology.
There are large shared learning spaces on every floor that have tables, chairs and quiet corners for active discussion, meetings, independent learning and so on. We saw some students in the glass-fronted classrooms (which also have plenty of light streaming in through the large windows), and others huddled round tables in the central area. We could see plenty of engagement from the students, in subjects including science, maths and music.
St Andrews says: “When designing this campus, we wanted to create open spaces where people would want to keep their voices low. That can be difficult, but if the teacher is engaging then the students will stay focused.”
Walls are often used as an extension of the student’s desk, and we saw examples of this with a maths project that asked students to design an F1 race track for Bangkok; their ideas, drawings and calculations were all posted on the classroom wall.
St Andrews says: “The walls are a functional space. It’s different to a primary school where you’ll see lots of displays on the walls, as here we want students to tack their workings on the wall, scribble ideas on the windows etc.”
This display also highlighted the school’s very creative style of teaching maths.
St Andrews says: “We’ve changed our approach to maths in the last couple of years quite dramatically. We’ve moved away from sets and now we integrate different areas within the same topic, and we challenge students at different levels. It’s interesting and engaging and it links to real life.”
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