As a member of the Nord Anglia group, this all-through school in Ho Chi Minh City delivers a fully bilingual, international curriculum in primary with an international, language focused English curriculum in secondary; the school offers Cambridge IGCSE and A Level programmes.
British Vietnamese International School, Ho Chi Minh City delivers a well-rounded, bilingual British education boosted by excellent global learning opportunities and a world-renowned music curriculum. Located in the urban district of Binh Chanh, this all-through school provides a solid curriculum in English and Vietnamese from pre-school to Year 13.
As well as having the hallmarks of a British independent school, BVIS HCMC brings to Vietnam many of the features that global education group Nord Anglia has become renowned for. As a member of the Nord Anglia family of schools, it works in collaboration with The Juilliard School to offer a creative arts programme in music, drama, and dance; it offers access to online courses, global challenges, and experiences available through Nord Anglia’s virtual global campus; and it focuses on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths – in and outside the classroom.
BVIS is part of Nord Anglia's much larger British International School group in Vietnam. This comprises British International School HCMC, BIS Hanoi, and BVIS Hanoi.
BVIS HCMC and Hanoi are the only bilingual schools in Vietnam that are fully accredited by the Council of International Schools. Learning follows the National Curriculum for England, and secondary students study for globally recognised IGCSEs and A Levels.
Here's a school that promises to equip students "with firm English and Vietnamese language foundations, independent study skills, and confidence" – and students are immersed in both English and Vietnamese from day one, with a growing number of students without either language as a mother tongue.
Teaching follows the Early Years Foundation Stage programme in both Vietnamese and English from pre-nursery to reception, where learning is “active, play-based and of a practical nature”. As well as focusing on communication literacy and language, physical development, and personal and social skills, learning at BVIS HCMC centres on creative and innovative play based activities, mathematics, and a philosophy that strongly develops a love for learning and higher order thinking. Children have access to creative and challenging indoor and outdoor learning spaces with facilities including role play and water play areas, a soft play room, mini splash pool, outdoor playground, climbing wall, and sand pit.
At primary level, fully qualified English teachers teach subjects in English such as literature, science, ICT, music, and PE, while fully qualified and BVIS trained Vietnamese teachers teach Vietnamese, maths, and literature. Teachers also follow the International Primary Curriculum (called Lien Ket at BVIS) to deliver an integrated approach in teaching the arts, history, and geography in both languages.
Known for its creative and thematic approach to teaching, IPC focuses on developing individual strengths in these subject areas; for example, students will explore the impact of tourism following a residential trip to Hoi An. Nord Anglia schools are well-known for enhancing their British syllabus with the IPC, and this helps students to develop a global perspective and celebrate the differences and similarities across a varied range of nationalities and cultures.
By secondary school (Year 7 upwards), students are expected to have "high English literacy levels in both English and Vietnamese", and teaching of IGCSE and A Level subjects is taught exclusively in English by fully UK qualified teachers. BVIS currently offers a decent choice of A Levels in art, biology, business studies, chemistry, drama, economics, English literature, geography, history, maths, music, PE, and physics.
Technology is integrated across all aspects of the curriculum. You’ll find students from Year 1 upwards proficient at coding and using their skills to integrate with the latest technologies. Children use a variety of applications to help with collaboration in their work and iPads are available for all children across all subject areas; there is interactive technology in all classrooms.
BVIS HCMC takes great pride in its well-equipped library, which has more than 80,000 books in both Vietnamese and English. It encourages a love of reading by working with schools from the local community to provide an after-school Reading Development Club, and rearing students through a Reading Without Walls Challenge.
Typical of good independent schools in the UK, BVIS HCMC has an active house system, provides a wide range of educational visits and after-school activities, and recognises British culture in annual events such as a Poppy Appeal, carol concert, Christmas and spring fetes, pantomimes, and the option of fresh traditional British food together with local options in the school canteen.
Most BVIS teachers are recruited from the UK. All Vietnamese teachers are fully qualified and trained across both BVIS and BIS schools so that they have a Vietnamese perspective with a western pedagogy and deliver all non-English lessons. There are whole-school specialist teachers for art, dance, PE, ICT, and library. The principal and primary and secondary head teachers are all British-born.
Simon Higham, the school principal, has more than 17 years’ experience in international education, with 10 of these years in Vietnam; he previously worked at BIS HCMC for nine years.
In line with UK schools, the academic year runs from August to June and has three terms.
Focus on sport and the arts
One of BVIS HCMC’s distinguishing features is its collaboration with The Juilliard School, a renowned performing arts academy based in New York. Through the Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme, the school puts its 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.
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 sporting action, students can take part in regular inter-house competitions and represent BVIS in regular fixtures against other international schools, such as the FOBISIA primary, U13, and U15 games. PE lessons cover a broad range of traditional sports and physical activities including athletics, swimming, tag rugby, dance, and rounders.
A global campus
BVIS HCMC was founded in 2011 to offer international students a Vietnamese perspective in terms of language and culture. As a member of Nord Anglia’s global network of more than 60 schools, BVIS HCMC is connected to students worldwide through the group’s impressive Global Campus. This virtual world links each Nord Anglia school that spans over 25 countries worldwide and gives them access to online courses, global challenges, and experiences that are run across the family of schools.
By logging on to the Global Campus website, students can enter competitions and sign up to 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.
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.”
While BVIS manages to retain that ‘small school feeling’ on its campuses, it also manages to deliver something bigger than its presence in Vietnam. Students can feel part of a ‘global community’ – something that standalone international schools simply cannot offer.
Beyond the classroom
As well as taking part in various community service initiatives, students, 'work' within the community as part of a programme that aims to "link students’ knowledge to practical tasks".
There are plenty of team-building activities on offer during the school’s outdoor residential trips, which run from Year 3 onwards. Field trips run from foundation stage through to Year 13, and primary and secondary students can compete in events overseas with other international schools through partnerships with FOBISIA and Nord Anglia. BVIS HCMC also offers an extensive programme of extra-curricular activities from Year 1, with clubs ranging from sport, music, and drama through to community service, technology, arts, and the environment.
The school community at BVIS HCMC is brought together through various student-led initiatives: every student is a member of one of four houses, and students can be elected to the school council, sport team captains, and house captains.
BVIS HCMC has a strong academic record that outperforms the global averages. In the 2018 IGCSE results, 89% of students were graded at least 5 A* – C grades overall, and 40% of all grades were A* or A. The overall pass rate was 99%.
In the A Level results, 36% of grades were A* – A, which is higher than UK and international averages for this year; 72% of all grades were C or above.
This all-through school is able to deliver a well-rounded education in a campus that’s well-equipped with some impressive facilities. As well as modern classrooms, there is a well-stocked library; science, computer science, media, arts, music, dance, and drama departments; theatre and main hall; multi-purpose sports hall; an indoor 25m swimming pool; dance and drama studios; and a large cafeteria. Recreational areas include large grass playing fields.
Admission and fees
Compared to Nord Anglia's British International Schools in Vietnam, annual tuition fees are considerably lower. 2019-20 fees range from VND 202,600,000 for nursery up to VND 369,000,000 for Year 1, VND 431,500,000 for Year 7, and VND 489,900,000 for Year 12. These fees are inclusive of residential trips, meals, uniform, and examination costs.
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