In the past decade, Wells International School (On Nut) has established itself as an affordable, small city centre American school that gives senior students the option of studying Advanced Placement (AP) courses or the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP).
In a country that is swamped with large all-through international schools charging tuition fees of more THB 500,000 from Grade 1, it’s quite refreshing to find a school that’s the exception. With a population of just 520 students, Wells International School’s On Nut campus is small in size in comparison to many other schools in Thailand. And with all-inclusive fees ranging from THB 310,000 to THB 420,000, Wells On Nut is also one of the cheapest.
While there are obvious limitations to Wells On Nut’s size and facilities, the school does deliver good value for money. Here’s a school that offers an American-based curriculum to students from kindergarten through to 18 years, including the choice to study Advanced Placement (AP) courses or the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP). And, despite the much lower tuition fees, the school provides a wide scope of extra-curricular activities and sports.
“We’re an international school first and foremost with an American-style curriculum that caters to two different programmes – IB and AP. We started off with an American-centric curriculum, but we have evolved over time.”
Located at the heart of Bangkok, in the Phra Khanong district, Wells On Nut retains the atmosphere and culture of a smaller school – which will certainly appeal to many parents – and its average class size of 16 students is small by Thai standards. Wells On Nut is one of three campuses run by the school in Bangkok; this trio of schools also includes kindergartens at Thong Lor and Bang Na. They are all branches of the EverClever Education Group, a conglomerate of institutions that includes the Bangkok School of Management and EverClever Language School.
Read about our tour of the campus here.
Since opening in 2006, Wells On Nut as established itself as a popular American school with a ‘homely’ feel. While the majority of teachers are from the US, students hail from more than 20 different nationalities and 38% of the population is Thai.
An education at Wells On Nut starts in kindergarten, where the American-based curriculum focuses on hands-on learning, engaging physical and mental activities to teach language and literacy, maths, science, health and social studies, PE and creative activities.
At the primary (Grades 1-4), middle school (Grades 5-8) and high school (Grades 9-12) levels, the curriculum is built upon the US Common Core Standards. This is a popular US framework for curriculum consistency across grades K to 12, and usually means that we can expect a strong focus on the arts, language, maths, science, PE and social studies. As well as focusing on the core subjects – English, science, maths and social studies – the curriculum includes music, IT, drama, art, PE, Thai culture, Thai language, and modern languages (Japanese, Hindi, French, Mandarin Chinese and Mandarin Taiwanese).
Wells On Nut also follows the popular US Literacy by Design programme which develops reading, speaking and listening skills. Students’ progress is tracked by SATS twice a year, and students have a strong track record of achieving above average levels in maths in particular.
Students in Grades 10 to 12 can enrol in either Advanced Placement (AP) or IB Diploma Programme courses, where they can take elective courses as diverse as debate, theatre, business studies, choir, computer productions and design, dance, home economics, instrumental music, and visual art. Although high school students are strongly encouraged to enrol in at least one of these honours courses, it is not compulsory and they can choose to graduate with just a high school diploma.
Technology features strongly in the curriculum: the school is a Google Apps for Education integrated school and it runs a BYOD programme from Grades 5 to 12. There are five computer labs with more than 150 new computers, science labs equipped with latest equipment, and a rooftop hydroponics-equipped greenhouse where students experiment in biology, life science and environmental science.
Preparing students for university
“All aspects of the Wells curriculum from the nursery to high school levels are designed to extensively prepare students for studies at top universities around the globe.”
There’s a lot of talk about preparing students for university. The school incorporates communication skills, problem-solving skills, life skills and responsible citizenship, healthy habits, technology and Thai culture into its well-rounded, international curriculum for all grades. And, when students enter high school, they are offered a wide range of academic support from job shadow opportunities and internships through to teaching assistant work and placements at institutions such as Mahidol University and the John Hopkins Centre for Talented Youth.
Students are also encouraged to develop leadership skills by attending the Global Young Leaders Conference, joining the High School Student Council, and contributing to On Nut’s student-produced 85 Magazine.
Beyond the classroom
Academia is not the sole focus at Wells On Nut. As would be expected with any American school, sport also plays an important role. In addition to taking PE lessons, students can compete in team and individual sports such as basketball, soccer, badminton, swimming, track and field, and table tennis.
The school is a member of the Bangkok International Schools Athletic Conference (BISAC), and its Wells Seahawks teams have a reputation for their “fierce competitiveness” among the international school community.
There is a large platform for the arts here and, due to the relatively small size of the school, students from all grades can get involved. Also, the school takes part in various competitions in academia, the arts and debating, both locally and internationally. Wells students have been former champions of World Math Day, EU-Thailand National Debate Championship, Asia Books Readers’ Theatre competition and the World Scholar’s Cup.
On the service side, students in all grades contribute to a number of annual charity and philanthropic projects ranging from visits to local orphanages to volunteering at reforestation initiatives.
It’s almost impossible to miss the bright yellow buildings of the small but perfectly formed On Nut campus. Located at the heart of Bangkok, and just minutes away from the On Nut BTS station, the campus has a cosy, warm feel about it.
Facilities, which are old and showing some signs of wear and tear, include three computer labs, a cafeteria, science labs, playground, swimming pool, auditorium, dance and music rooms. The Wells sports complex includes a gymnasium, fitness centre, two basketball courts and glass-roofed sports hall.The school has laid plans for a modern eight-storey extension, which will have additional classrooms, a secondary school library, a large auditorium with balcony seating, additional computer labs, and a rooftop greenhouse.
The school has a full-time nurser on campus, as well as four full-time counsellors who provide advice to students and teach weekly values lessons to all grades.
Admission and fees
Enrolments are accepted year-round at Wells On Nut, and many students join here straight from one of Wells’ two kindergartens. Tuition costs, which are all-inclusive, are THB 310,000 for Grade 1, THB 370,000 for Grade 7, and THB 420,000 for Grade 11.
The school offers more than THB 1.5 million in scholarships to high-achieving secondary students for excellence in academia, sport or the arts.
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