This city centre primary school is within walking distance of popular neighbourhoods such as Sathorn Gardens in the heart of Bangkok’s financial district – and has all the appeal of a small British school with a warm atmosphere and close-knit community.
Bigger is not always better, and St Andrews International School Sathorn takes full advantage of the fact that it is a small primary school. This standalone British primary school for children aged 2 to 11 years is described by its students and teachers as “very warm”, “very welcoming”, and a place where everybody knows each other. Here’s a school that is within walking distance of several popular expat neighbourhoods, and is like a green oasis within the heart of the city.
Located in Bangkok’s CBD, this small school belongs to the much larger St Andrews group of four schools in Thailand. The other three schools are St Andrews Dusit primary school; St Andrews Sukhumvit 107, which takes students from 2 to 18 years and offers the National Curriculum for England followed by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP); and St Andrews Green Valley, an all-through school on the outskirts of Pattaya.
Founded in 2000, St Andrews Sathorn is part of the international Cognita group of schools, which has headquarters in the UK and educates 15,000 pupils in more than 70 schools worldwide. While Cognita’s other schools in South East Asia follow either American or Australian curriculums, St Andrews is much more in line with its 40-plus schools in the UK. It claims to offer “a rigorous British curriculum” that is enhanced for its “international community of students representing over 40 nationalities”. Class sizes are fairly low, with a maximum of 20 children per class in all year groups from Kindergarten to Year 6.
The school has received a Gold rating from the CfBT (Centre for British Teaching) Education Trust; inspectors said that “students build extremely well on the excellent start made in the Early Years Foundation Stage”, and “teachers have a high degree of subject expertise and are skilled in engaging and motivating students”.
St Andrews Sathorn offers the National Curriculum for England with a strong international slant. The St Andrews learning path starts with an early years programme for children aged 2 to 5 years that follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), and focuses strongly on developing English vocabulary and communication skills, as well as numbers, science, social studies, and culture. All students learn Thai, and there’s a specialist English language support programme to prepare students for mainstream education. In terms of sport, children have PE and swimming lessons from as young as 2-years-old. Other specialist classes include music, drama, and art.
The primary curriculum covers KS1 (Years 1 – 3) and KS2 (Years 4 – 6), and includes the following subject areas: maths, English, science, IT, history, geography, design technology, art, PE, and music, as well as personal, social, and health education (PSHE). St Andrews Sathorn encourages multilingualism, and language lessons focus on reading, writing, speaking, and culture; as well as daily Thai lessons, primary students from Year 3 have the option to learn French. Weekly Mandarin classes are offered as an extra-curricular activity.
Students learn the importance of exercising for a lifetime from a young age. There’s a strong PE programme that includes swimming, basketball, tennis, badminton, football, dance, gymnastics, and rugby. The school also fields teams in various competitive fixtures against sports teams from international schools across the country.
Technology supports learning at all stages of education; classrooms are equipped with smartboards and tablets, and there’s a dedicated ICT suite. The curriculum is also very creative, and all students have specialist music, drama, and visual arts lessons. In music, students work with percussion instruments, keyboards, recorders, and ukuleles to learn vocal skills and composition; from Year 3, all students select a specialist music instrument. As well as inviting students to join the school’s rock band, Glee club, and dance group (which rehearse at lunchtimes), the school offers private piano lessons.
There’s also plenty going on outside of the classroom, from a wide choice of extra-curricular activities to community service projects and residential trips from Year 2.
St Andrews Sathorn has built up a close-knit community where parents are actively involved with fundraising, social events, and learning support. As well as receiving a weekly newsletter, parents can log onto a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) to keep track of what’s happening on campus.
There are more than 40 different nationalities represented at the school, and this is embraced by celebrating key cultural festivals throughout the year. St Andrews Sathorn also fosters a strong reading culture through author visits and other literary events.
Surrounded by the skyscrapers of Bangkok’s CBD, St Andrews Sathorn creates a warm, welcoming campus for its small population of nursery and primary students. The school has lovingly restored a 100-year-old hospital into a learning environment that’s surrounded by banana trees and equipped with modern facilities.
As well as classrooms, St Andrews Sathorn has two multi-purpose halls for the performing arts and PE, IT and science labs, a library, music rooms, parent cafe, and a canteen. Sporting facilities are limited on this small campus to a 25m swimming pool and sports court. The campus is close to popular neighbourhoods including the Met, Sathorn Garden, Sathorn Park Place, and Sukhothai – and many students avoid the rush hour traffic by simply walking to school.
Tuition fees are more expensive than St Andrews’ other primary school, but still in the mid-range for international schools. For 2018-19, you can expect to pay THB 531,250 for Kindergarten and THB 553,050 for Years 1 – 6.
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