Rated an Outstanding school by the BSO, St Andrews International School Bangkok (Sukhumvit 71) is a British primary school with a new science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) curriculum, a mother tongue language programme in four different languages and a strong provision for SEN.
These are changing times for St Andrews International School Bangkok. Part of the Nord Anglia family of schools, St Andrews is a British-style school that teaches the National Curriculum for England. Since being founded in 1997, the school has taught early years through to Year 13 on its Sukhumvit 71 campus in the heart of Bangkok. In August 2017, the school opened a new high school campus in Srivikorn for Year 7 to 13; this means that the Sukhumvit 71 campus is now a dedicated primary school for 2 to 11-year-olds.
The school says,
“We aim to use this opportunity to unlock the potential of the campus for our younger students, to create a unique primary school that is focused on meeting the needs of all children, regardless of their ability.”
It’s exciting times for St Andrews’ primary students. They started the 2017 academic year with the launch of a new science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) curriculum, and the opening of new sports, arts, and language facilities.
St Andrews Sukhumvit 71 brings to Thailand all the features that come with the Nord Anglia name: a global campus programme, collaborations with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Juilliard School, and a British-style education. It also offers a mother tongue language programme in four different languages, and an extensive programme for students with learning needs.
St Andrews now has two campuses less than a 10-minute drive away from each other: the Srivikorn high school campus in the Bang Rak district for students aged 12 to 18, and the original Sukhumvit 71 primary campus in the Bang Na district for ages 2 to 11. (It’s not to be confused with St Andrews International School Sukhumvit 107, a Cognita school that is also in the neighbourhood.)
“There are other schools in Bangkok with a very similar name! We used to be part of a group of schools called St Andrews but then we wanted to move in a different direction; our vision for how to run a school didn’t match.”
This non-selective school has around 1,600 students, split fairly evenly across its two campuses. Teachers are primarily from the UK, the US, and Australia, and the school is led by head teacher Paul Schofield, who came to the school in 2003 after leaving his position as the founding head of Bangkok Patana High School. The average class size at St Andrews is 16, and the teacher to student ratio is low, at around 6:1.
Here's a school that has a strong academic record but also "focuses on each individual child’s learning potential" and every child's full potential "socially, emotionally and academically".
Parents may find it reassuring that the school was rated an outstanding school in its British Schools Overseas inspections in 2015 and 2018; school inspectors from the UK assessed the school in terms of academics, facilities, teaching, and curriculum, as well as 'British-ness'.
An international curriculum
St Andrews delivers a British-style curriculum with an international slant for 2 to 11 year olds at its city centre campus.
Between the age of 2.5 and 5 years, children in the nursery and reception classes follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The primary school curriculum from Years 1 to 6 is based on the National Curriculum for England, which includes English, maths, science, geography, history, art and design, music, PE, ICT, design technology, library skills, and Thai language and culture. Students also have Personal, Social, and Health Education (PSHE), a feature of the National Curriculum for England that looks at issues such as bullying, healthy lifestyles, dealing with stress and emotions, alcohol and drugs, friendships and relationships, and global issues.
St Andrews offers a global languages programme in all years. There is a mother tongue programme for native, fluent speakers of French, German, Japanese, and Korean, and this is based on the language curricula of each respective home country. Students attend four lessons every week, which are held by native speakers during the school day to “maintain a high standard of proficiency in the student’s native language”.
The school also has a modern foreign languages (MFL) programme; all students (both Thai and non-Thai) must study Thai, and are also given a choice of Mandarin, Spanish, or French. This programme is well-suited to such an international school that has more than 40 different nationalities. Now that the high school students have moved to a new campus, the primary school has the space to create a new dedicated zone for its global languages programme.
St Andrews welcomes children with special educational needs, such as Asperger’s syndrome, dyspraxia, dyslexia, global learning delays, and physical disabilities. Making up around 15% of the school’s total population, children with additional needs are fully integrated into classes and supported by the school’s team of learning assistants. The school also runs a dyslexia programme based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, and a daily homework club to help children who are struggling in any particular subject. The school is also using the additional space left by the high school students to run a high needs learning support programme.
A well-rounded education
As well as being very focused on academia, St Andrews exposes children to music, drama, the creative arts, sport, and technology from a young age.
A distinguishing feature of St Andrews is its Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme. Developed in partnership with the performing arts academy based in New York, this arts curriculum puts students in front of Juilliard’s performers and teaching artists at various workshops, masterclasses, and performances. You really get a feel for the love of music at this school.
The school’s music curriculum is based on a repertoire curated by Juilliard that is built around 12 categories of music, ranging from Bach and Mozart to Gershwin and John Williams. There are also opportunities to join the school orchestra, choirs, tuned percussion ensemble, and rock bands; students can learn to play the violin, cello, flute, clarinet, recorder, and trumpet.
The school’s website says,
“Through our music curriculum designed by The Juilliard School, every student can enjoy being an engaged listener, composer, interpreter and communicator. In addition, your child will be developing valuable skills that will pay dividends in all aspects of learning and prepare them for success in future life.”
In terms of sport, the school offers a “fun, challenging and competitive” curriculum. There are weekly PE lessons for all students throughout high school, including basketball, football, swimming, athletics, t-ball, fitness, badminton, volleyball, and gymnastics. St Andrews fields teams in tournaments such as the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) Games, and hosts less competitive events such as swim galas, house activities, and the annual sports day.
Full STEAM ahead
Nord Anglia schools have built up a reputation for their innovative teaching of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), thanks in large to a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). St Andrews is following suit with its recently launched collaboration with MIT at the start of the 2017 academic year. The school has moved away from a traditional schooling approach that teaches STEAM subjects individually; instead, it will now take an integrated approach that sees students working across, between, and beyond individual subjects.
In line with MIT’s philosophy of ‘mind and hand’, St Andrews encourages hands-on learning and set students real-world challenges every term. You can expect to find students building robots, studying bioengineering and water quality in Hong Kong, looking at climate change, and much more.
The school’s website says,
“These challenges will be interdisciplinary, critical-thinking activities that will present students with the challenge of a modern day, real-world issue that has yet to be solved. Each will require significant levels of collaboration, experimentation and a designed solution through trial and error. Creating practical challenges for students means that they can develop their knowledge and skills through hands-on exercises.”
As part of the MIT collaboration, students have the opportunity to visit MIT to “meet leading MIT scientists, build and experiment in workshops, and learn about the new discoveries that will shape their future”.
St Andrews is well equipped to deliver this STEAM curriculum; specialist facilities include ICT rooms, design technology spaces, art and design spaces, science labs, and laptops and iPads in classrooms across the school.
A global campus
St Andrews describes its curriculum as “uniquely international”. This is a school that does go the extra mile to offer students a global education that results in more than just internationally recognised qualifications. This is a school that hosts “global competitions, expeditions and online interactions with students on the other side of the world” in a way that is unmatched by most other schools in the region.
Since becoming a Nord Anglia Education School in 2012 and joining its global network of 55 schools, St Andrews has been part of the group’s Global Campus. This virtual world links Nord Anglia’s 50,000 students and gives them access to online courses, global challenges, and experiences that are run across the family of schools. Previous challenges have included a collaboration with UNICEF to 'Make Hong Kong Well Again' and a partnership with the Cambridge Science Festival to create a chain reaction machine.
By logging on to the Global Campus website, students can enter creative writing competitions, take part in photography challenges and virtual choirs, and sign up to Global Campus expeditions. Through Global Campus Worldwide, all Nord Anglia schools offer a variety of summer programmes ranging from specialist camps for the performing arts or leadership to sports and language camps. They also encourage students to showcase their talent in Nord Anglia regional and global competitions such as sports tournaments, orchestra performances, and science festivals; based on recent achievements, such as winning the primary debating league and photography competition, St Andrews students are thriving on such challenges.
The school’s website says,
“Our Global Campus extends your child's learning beyond the classroom and the school day. Your child can participate in a wide variety of activities designed by educational experts and teachers to broaden their knowledge and nurture transferable skills valuable in school, university and the workplace.”
For anyone looking for that ‘small school feeling’, then St Andrews may not for you. However, it will appeal to students who want to be part of something bigger than the school in Thailand, who want to feel part of a ‘global community’, and who thrive on competition and collaboration.
Beyond the classroom
While there is plenty happening during the timetable, there is just as much going on at the end of the school day. St Andrews encourages all students to sign up to at least one of the 150 activities in its extra-curricular activities programme – and with a choice as diverse as world affairs, technology, sports, the arts, language, and public speaking, students should find something to interest them.
As well as offering a variety of student leadership positions, there's also a very active house system, all named after hill tribes of northern Thailand – and all students (and staff) wear their house t-shirts every Friday.
Students can also join one of several community service clubs and participate in activities such as building homes for Habitat for Humanity, teaching English and crafts in Thai schools, or painting and building schools and orphanages.
There’s a strong community within the school, due in part to the very active Parent Teacher Group, which organises school-wide events such as International Day, the Christmas Fair, and Community Sports Day (for parents and teachers). Parents can also sign up for various classes including Thai language, swimming, and Zumba, held on campus during the school day.
The school was inspected by the British Schools Overseas in 2015 and 2018, when it was rated an outstanding school. UK inspectors noted that “a large majority of children who join St Andrews in Nursery or Reception classes are learning English as an additional language”, and that “almost all pupils in this non-selective school make excellent progress from their various starting points”.
Inspectors said that students “consistently exceed the average grades found in UK schools at the end of KS4 and KS5”. It continues, “the overall picture is that pupils have an increasingly wide range of subject options open to them and, whatever they choose, almost all achieve well.”
The report notes the Britishness of the school, including school performances of classical plays such as The Elephant Man and The Mousetrap, its British trained teachers, studying the works of Shakespeare in English lessons, and references to British culture and politics. Other highlights included the school’s “exceptional programme” of ECAs, and “outstanding” support for students with additional learning needs.
St Andrews opened its Sukhumvit 71 campus in the Bang Na district of Bangkok in 1997 and developed into an all through school. Following the opening of St Andrews’ new Srivikorn campus in 2017, this campus is now dedicated to the primary years.
While the Sukhumvit 71 campus is far less modern than the Srivikorn campus, it does have a certain charm. Four colonial-style classroom blocks surround a quadrangle, there are tree-lined gardens, and several recreational areas. Facilities include purpose-built playgrounds for the early years and primary students, a well-stocked library with media suite, art and design workshops, two drama studios, an art studio with a kiln, and a canteen and cafe. Sports facilities include a 25m outdoor saltwater swimming pool, all-weather football pitch, two gymnasiums, and a sports court.
There are also plans to add a new multi-purpose large soft play facility; a performing arts area for music and drama; new outdoor play areas; a learning zone for Year 6; and a dedicated zone for the world languages programme.
Admission and fees
St Andrews is a non-selective school. While Nord Anglia has a global reputation for high fees, St Andrews is actually one of the more moderately-priced international schools in Thailand. For the academic year 2017-18, annual tuition fees are THB 473,000 for Year 1 and THB 536,000 for Year 6.
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