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International Schools in Thailand - An Inside Look


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Having seen a large number of questions and debates on this forum regarding various topics related to international schools in Thailand, as well as many erroneous claims, I thought it might be benefic

Just a sad note. It is disappointing that good education is limited the very wealthy families. There is little ethic in that system. For all of us who can't afford 600k per year, let's do what we ca

One thing I found surprising was the percentage of international school teachers with drug and alcohol abuse issues. The stereotype is that government school and language center teachers are the lea

I wish we could afford this. We have two children and simply can't spend that much.

Given that the kids are half Thai, I also see great benefit in bilingual schools, as there is more focus on Thai culture and language. How many of the international schools teach Thai reading and writing? Any thoughts on Sarasas?

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Drug abuse in rampant but not in TOP tier international schools. Soso (Phuket?..) schools and also private Bi-lingual schools I think it is common, but not the norm. A big difference I think comes down to outside hires or domestic hires. Some people just live in Thailand because it is fun and easy.

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How many provide an education to the same level even of a quality comprehensive in the UK let alone a day private school in the uk.

Note these fees are for day pupils . if it were for boarding they would be approaching the same fees as a middle boarding school in the UK. Compare the facilities of these schools and the quality of the teachers with the namesake school in the uk, and they are a poor imitation.

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"All else aside, however, I think the case can be made that if these personal factors are excluded, the higher quality is there. These schools recruit many of the best teachers worldwide, and that comes with a cost."

My daughter attends what could be described as a "Tier 1" international school in Japan since 2008. The price is nearly the same as in Thai.

I have met and spoke to many teachers (none had lasted more than 2 years, except prinicipals). They all said there is a "chain of people" who hop from one country to another, informing each other and even handing over furniture and house stuff to their successors. Nothing like "best teachers worldwide". Just plain folks who are professional educators. What I have gathered, many do that to escape the hell of US public education, bringing their own kids to attend the schools they teach at, at a subsidised price.

Among them, never noticed anything like "teachers" in Thailand, alcohol, drugs or womanizing.

One PE teacher i was friendly with (a fellow Australian) when leaving said "I would not really miss the money". I knew she was on 3 million Yen (that time it was 70,000THB a month).

Those 200K THB salaries are probably more appropriate for the principals and are more like for University lecturers. That calibre of grade 1-12 teachers is neither sought nor available for international schools in Japan, let alone in the 3rd world countries.

The teachers who revealed or semi-revealed their salaries were all where a public teacher of their rank would have been in the US + discounted school for their kids + 1 yearly ticket home + partial housing cost (like 500$ a month).

A couple, both professional teachers with 2 kids confided "We do this 6 times in 6 different countries and our kids are safe, clean and Uni-ready after the world tour". None of them had any illusion they were "world class". That particular couple is now in Vientiane, after Doha, Qatar.

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Around $10,000 - $20,000 a year ? Seems more like a money minting biz than providing real education.

The top three schools in that list offer a pretty amazing education to be fair, they don't have a very high teacher turnover either

Edited by bkkgooner
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save the money you would have waisted on international school

put them in private bilingual schools

when they graduate, give them the saved money as graduation present (worth a small house, several cars ...)

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"All else aside, however, I think the case can be made that if these personal factors are excluded, the higher quality is there. These schools recruit many of the best teachers worldwide, and that comes with a cost."

My daughter attends what could be described as a "Tier 1" international school in Japan since 2008. The price is nearly the same as in Thai.

I have met and spoke to many teachers (none had lasted more than 2 years, except prinicipals). They all said there is a "chain of people" who hop from one country to another, informing each other and even handing over furniture and house stuff to their successors. Nothing like "best teachers worldwide". Just plain folks who are professional educators. What I have gathered, many do that to escape the hell of US public education, bringing their own kids to attend the schools they teach at, at a subsidised price.

Among them, never noticed anything like "teachers" in Thailand, alcohol, drugs or womanizing.

One PE teacher i was friendly with (a fellow Australian) when leaving said "I would not really miss the money". I knew she was on 3 million Yen (that time it was 70,000THB a month).

Those 200K THB salaries are probably more appropriate for the principals and are more like for University lecturers. That calibre of grade 1-12 teachers is neither sought nor available for international schools in Japan, let alone in the 3rd world countries.

The teachers who revealed or semi-revealed their salaries were all where a public teacher of their rank would have been in the US + discounted school for their kids + 1 yearly ticket home + partial housing cost (like 500$ a month).

A couple, both professional teachers with 2 kids confided "We do this 6 times in 6 different countries and our kids are safe, clean and Uni-ready after the world tour". None of them had any illusion they were "world class". That particular couple is now in Vientiane, after Doha, Qatar.

Go to those top three schools and tell me how many teachers you find into drugs and womanizing, mostly married couples working in those places. They make a lot of the single staff stay on campus for the first year as well. Most of us teachers in Thailand just work for our families and do a good job but cheers for tarring us all with the same brush. There are a huge amount of teachers there for over five years because they look after their staff. Plenty of teachers there on 120k++

That couple you referred to sound like a couple of idiots and does Vientiene have a world class international school? I very much doubt it

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This is a good thread and thanks to the OP for sharing all this information.

My question to OP is....

If we want our precious one to be accepted into Medicine or Dentistry, for example, are we better off sending our child to a government primary school. The reason being is that there is a government system at the schools whereby the smart students can apply (if they have the respective grades) to get into medicine or dentistry. Its how my wife got into her medical course. I dont know the name of this system but there is a quota applied depending on where you live and what school you go to.

Can you comment on this or provide advice? thanks

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Its not nice to comment on educational institutions but the monetary figures are able to tell anyone with a sane mind to see they are worth the money spent especially a place like this we called Bangkok!

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my son went to an International JUNIOR school in Bangkok.

yes, it was expensive.. and YES i liked it a lot. it was really cosy and like a small family. (not a large school). the teachers were all REAL teachers with REAL Teaching degrees. their methods were professional..

once he left Junior school and went to high school, i was severely disappointed. The international high schools here in bangkok (12 to 16 years old) almost ALL look like money-making machines. with NO REGARD for the children. ALL my sons friends tell me their schools have LOTS of bullying and the teachers do NOTHING about it. they told me that so many of the students are swearing... and even (in Bangkok Prep) my sons friends Teacher says <deleted>*K often... (and the kids laugh).. (but, what kind of a school is this?)

realy I am just unimpressed with all the HIGH SCHOOLS here.

kindergarten and junior school, ok. but higher than that, i feel they are a rip off.

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This is a good thread and thanks to the OP for sharing all this information.

My question to OP is....

If we want our precious one to be accepted into Medicine or Dentistry, for example, are we better off sending our child to a government primary school. The reason being is that there is a government system at the schools whereby the smart students can apply (if they have the respective grades) to get into medicine or dentistry. Its how my wife got into her medical course. I dont know the name of this system but there is a quota applied depending on where you live and what school you go to.

Can you comment on this or provide advice? thanks

I don't think the stop tier schools are a useful route into top Thai universities. Children that attend ISB or NIST or any top tier American international school in any country will become culturally American, regardless of the nationality of their parents, and I assume its the same for the British-system school. Consequently, the cost of the schools is only justifiable if the intention is to send the child to a university in an English-speaking country.

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Go to those top three schools and tell me how many teachers you find into drugs and womanizing, mostly married couples working in those places. They make a lot of the single staff stay on campus for the first year as well. Most of us teachers in Thailand just work for our families and do a good job but cheers for tarring us all with the same brush. There are a huge amount of teachers there for over five years because they look after their staff. Plenty of teachers there on 120k++

That couple you referred to sound like a couple of idiots and does Vientiene have a world class international school? I very much doubt it

You go to post#8 and find that the OP was talking of drugs and alcohol, replying to someone who had asked about it. I just said no trace of that in Japanese international schools.

That teachers work for their families, that is exactly what I said, even gave their rationale behind moving between countries.

Teachers on 120K+ - what an achievement! That's what they would be on at home. It's not even what it used to be for Thai nationals, plenty of skilled Thais on that or more in non-teaching jobs, just look the city's skyline, the skyscrapers are stuffed with them..

"World class internationals school" may be kicking some ass in Thailand. In Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, they are plain rubbish. Locals who waste their formation years in them can score for Uni exam probably 30% of what kids from the free public schools can do.

Just your post may nudge the readers into thinking that teachers in BKK "world class schools" are not only far from rocket scientists (as they were tried to be peddled as) but on or even below the par of average folks with skills.

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How many of the schools at the mid tier level are actually teaching the kids to read spell and write.

I teach privately and find that most schools put together a study package that really makes the parents look like their kids are learning however, the same kids can not spell the colours or know how to read and form words.

I think the worst part is the automatic pass. I was at a school with a child that had a significant learning disability but had graduated to pratom 5 because daddy paid the fees and she had perfect attendance.

Is this common

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One thing I found surprising was the percentage of international school teachers with drug and alcohol abuse issues. The stereotype is that government school and language center teachers are the least qualified, therefor the most dodgy. But I have work in the addiction field in Thailand for years and several schools have asked for help with their teachers on drugs. My initial thinking was "they are making so much money (rock star wages compared to most teachers) so why would they risk their jobs by doing illegal drugs"? But I discovered that the more pay, the more privileged they think they are and the more disposable income they have to spend on these things. I certain international school in Phuket did surprise drug testing a few years ago, and 1/3 of their teachers were positive for meth, cocaine or narcotics. Thats not to even mention alcohol, just drugs. I spoke with one school director who was worried about a teacher with a drug history. When I suggested mandatory drug testing for all teachers he said "no way, we would have to fire half our staff". Personally, I think when working with children, and getting paid 10 times the local wage to do so, you can at least not use illegal drugs...

Seriously how many years can the Phuket story circulate and be so wrong?!

Out of a foreign staff of 120, 8 people were caught for marijuana, nothing else. Now we have a yearly drug test, we don't know when it will be, but everybody is tested. It's in our contract. Personally I have no problem with that, but I'm sure there are one or two who find it irritating.

So to repeat it was not 1/3 of bloody teachers, it was 6% of teachers.

Since then nobody has tested positive.

Edited by nicky2012
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think-too-mut:

I do not have any first-hand knowledge of schools in Japan, so I cannot comment on their quality, pay or practices. However, you are incorrect in assuming that salaries of 200,000 baht per month are only at the level of principals at the top international schools in Thailand. (Additionally, university lecturers here make far less than teachers in those schools.) My previous mid-tier school's salary scale, which was not high compared to others, started at approximately 55,000 - 60,000 baht per month for a teacher with a bachelor's degree or subject degree and no experience. It went as high as 130,000 baht, and we did have a handful of teachers who were above 100,000. Housing allowances were not provided, but annual flights were following the first two years.

At my current school, the scale begins at approximately 148,000 baht per month for a licensed teacher (which is required) with a bachelor's degree and no experience. However, we very rarely hire such teachers. Most have several years of experience, and with our salary steps, they typically begin at 160,000 - 170,000 per month. Additionally, we do offer a housing allowance that begins at 42,000 for single teachers. In short, our average teacher begins at just over 200,000 per month before taxes. We also provide full health and dental insurance, flights for the teacher and his/her dependents, a personal professional development allowance, annual bonus (equivalent to another month's pay), free tuition for up to two of their children and other minor perks. This is obviously sufficient to attract excellent educators from all over the world.

I have already provided evidence regarding student achievement, which should clearly indicate that these schools are able to provide a high enough quality education to match other superior schools in other countries. However, you specify that the teachers are subpar, even in these top schools.

Teachers who joined my current school this year came from, among others, American International School of Budapest (Hungary), Anglo-American School of Moscow (Russia), Bonn International School (Germany), Inter-Community School Zurich (Switzerland), International School of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), International School of Prague (Czech Republic), I-Shou International School (Taiwan), United World College of South East Asia (Singapore), Western Academy of Beijing (China) and Yokohama International School (Japan). You'll note that many of those schools are in the countries that you specified as having superior schools and teachers.

Many of our outgoing staff were hired at these same schools and others of the same caliber. Among our current staff are a co-founder of a global education publishing company, founder of a non-profit organization that helps young girls in Laos receive a free education, a world-regarded EAL expert, and others who operate their own non-profits and businesses alongside their work at the school. Nearly every one of them has ten or more years of international experience, most of it outside Thailand. These are not the profiles of average teachers, nor of individuals who cannot find work in schools elsewhere. The top schools here attract the best teachers like all other top schools around the world.

As mentioned in a previous post, the top three are also run as non-profits, overseen by a parent-elected board. Looking at the boards of governors at Bangkok Patana School, International School Bangkok and NIST International School, it becomes quite clear that the families who send their children to these schools could easily afford to send them to other schools in Asia. They choose to send them to these schools for a reason: the quality.

At this point it seems tenuous to attempt to argue that these are not world-class teachers or world-class schools, unless we simply want to quibble about the connotations of "world-class". If that is the issue, I would simply rephrase it and say top teachers who are on par with those at other top schools outside of Thailand.

bkkgooner:

"Most of us teachers in Thailand just work for our families and do a good job but cheers for tarring us all with the same brush."

I agree entirely with this sentiment. Many of the excellent teachers I've encountered over the years in Thailand, particularly in my last position, have worked their way up from bilingual schools or government schools, have families and are generally very nice people. I suspect that the stigma of being in Thailand drives many to assume that they are only here for the drugs, women or beach, which is unfortunately inaccurate in many cases.

rotary:

You're welcome, and I appreciate the positive comment!

davidst01:

Again, I appreciate the positive comment. I agree with the post written by In Town. Students who plan to attend a Thai university, including for medicine or similar fields, can easily get in even if they attend a top government or bilingual school. It's also relatively accurate to say that cultural conditioning can play a significant role. We hadn't had many graduating classes at my previous school, and though many went to excellent universities in the United States (University of Wisconsin - Madison, Rice University, etc.) and elsewhere (Seoul National University, Monash University, etc.), many others chose to attend Chula, Thammasat and Mahidol. In several of those cases, they encountered difficulty integrating, primarily because of the vast differences in teaching styles (authoritarian and lecture-based at the universities compared to a more progressive Western approach in our school).

Silom:

I agree. ICS provides excellent value for the fees it charges, particularly when compared to other schools in that area. Again, I think it being non-profit plays at least one part in that.

joshstiles:

The purpose was to provide more accurate information about international schools, as I have seen many questions, inaccurate claims and unwarranted criticisms on these boards. You're not obligated to read it... smile.png

kingstonkid:

Among the upper mid-tier schools, all of them generally do have sound curricula and teaching practices in place. As I mentioned, my previous school was considered mid-tier, and our students - across the board - scored at or near the same levels at native English speakers in standardized English language tests (SAT 10, SAT, MAPS, etc.), and exceeded them by the time they graduated. On the other hand, I do agree that even among some of the mid-tier schools, the primary goal is money, and in those cases the students are the ones who suffer. I don't believe that's the case among the schools I referenced in my original post, but I admittedly do not have first-hand experience with all of them on the list.

nicky2012:

Thank you for pointing that out. The entire purpose of creating this thread was to clear up inaccuracies, and I'm glad I'm not the only one doing so.

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I wish we could afford this. We have two children and simply can't spend that much.

Given that the kids are half Thai, I also see great benefit in bilingual schools, as there is more focus on Thai culture and language. How many of the international schools teach Thai reading and writing? Any thoughts on Sarasas?

my understanding on this matter is (and anyone may correct me if I am in error) all students studying in Thailand must pass 4 obliged Thai language exams. Exception from such exams are holders of Thai passports. In short those exams are obliged for all international students but not for Thai nationals at international schools.

I am pretty sure I read this on Chiang Mai international School's website a while back.

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