Bangkok - Post Report Question and Answers
What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Lots of great schools, and it's one of the big pluses of Bangkok. There are three really excellent, popular ones: NIST (downtown), ISB in Nichada (north of the city), and Bangkok Patana British School (east of the city). There are also lots of smaller options that can also be good. - Feb 2023
There is a huge selection and the Embassy has over 46 approved schools. Do your research. I send my kids to ISB (International School of Bangkok) and regret it. What was once a great school, has transformed ideologically into something that doesn't work for my family, but that is just us. If you have a child who is suffering from gender or sexual identity issues, this school will be very welcoming and affirming to your child. In my opinion, if you hold traditional values and/or are proud of being an American you will find yourself at odds (often) with ISB. It is, in my opinion, fully woke. In my opinion, they teach controversial topics in all grade levels, starting in pre-K. I have been impressed by academics in some areas (math and foreign language) and less so in other areas (science and social studies). The school's biggest pro is its activities. The sports, band, clubs are absolutely incredible. There is something to do for every child here. Unfortunately, for us, the battle with ideology has overshadowed all of the positives, and had we known what we know now, we would have made a different choice. The good news, and my sincerest hope for all parents is to do your research. There are many wonderful schools here. If you are Christian, look at ICS. If you want the big school with lots of activities and, in my opinion, a lesser dose of indoctrination look at Patana. - Jan 2023
So, so many. American, British, French, Japanese, Montesori, IB, you name it, Bangkok has it. A lot of embassy children go to ISB (if they live up in Nichada, in Nonthaburi) which is reportedly well-equipped, excellent overall, and is a high-quality American curriculum. A lot of downtown embassy children go to NIST (I think IB curriculum, but don't quote me on that) and there's also Patana (British curriculum). There's dozens and dozens of other international schools so your challenge will actually be WHICH international school(s) to choose for your children. International schools are incredibly expensive in general if your employer doesn't cover tuition. - May 2022
Inside Nichada is ISB. We've had a great experience here. IB program at all levels. The school does a wonderful job of welcoming new students and setting them up to meet other children. Teachers are caring and supportive. Strong learning support program at the Elementary level as well as a new intensive learning support program. - Aug 2019
Too many to name. Take your pick. All seem to be great. Asia has some of the best international schools when you do the research. - Jun 2018
Several excellent schools that I am aware of, tons more that I do not have familiarity with. The International School of Bangkok is top-notch, with an excellent facility, and tons of extracurricular activities. NIST also has a wonderful reputation, as does Pattana (British curriculum). There is a French school...tons of choices. - Apr 2017
We send our kids to ISB and we love it. It's like a college campus, and the leadership and teachers there have truly been top notch for our family. Super sports program and extra curricular activities. Excellent IB scores in the High School. If your kid is bored at ISB... Most families really love this school, and the school is at the heart of the Nichada community. Word of warning, though. This is an IB school, so if you are looking for AP, this might not be the school for you. The vast majority of kids in the HS take the full IB program. - Aug 2015
A lot. All have pluses and minuses but are generally well respected. My child is still in a preschool. - May 2014
Excellent variety-several schools that offer special needs education, and a bevy of different curriculums, whether British, American, Chinese... - Jul 2013
I don't have kids, but I hear that the schools are great. - Jun 2013
I am writing this as we leave Bangkok. I have contributed to talesmag before. My children go to NIST. We are very sad to be leaving the school. It has been a terrific place for both of my kids. We love the IB curriculum and the quality of the teachers has been excellent. The school offers a multitude of wonderful after school activities -- from swimming, gymnastics, and basketball to cooking, singing, and robotics. They also have a good instrumental music program.
The school has a very diverse student body. There are students from many different backgrounds -- Thais, embassy staff from all over the world, NGO staff families, UN and corporate families. This diversity is a plus, but there seems to be some tension between international parents who love the IB and some of the Thai families who like the success the school achieves with students in terms of college admissions, but don't quite get the IB. They would like to see an even better admission records at top universities -- our kids do get into Ivies and Public Ivies and top universities in the UK and Australia, but it is not at the rate that some would like to see. The college guidance department would rather see kids get into a school that would be a good match for them, rather than chasing a brand. The school has excellent leadership and it remains one of the best IB schools in the world, but I fear that there is pressure for the school to become more of a college admissions "powerhouse".
What parents don't always understand that none of the schools in Bangkok are selective in the admissions process. If there is space and the parents can pay the tuition, the kids can typically matriculate at any of the private schools here. If you're looking for an elite private school, you will not find it at NIST or at any of the private schools in Bangkok (anyone who says anything different is being very disingenuous). Having said that, the curriculum you will find at NIST is the best I have ever seen in my 17 years of teaching at elite private schools in the US. They take the kids who come in that front door and do an amazing job with them. They are encouraged to think and question and be inspired. Students will be engaged at a level which challenges them. When I look at how my 7 and 4 year are thriving, I am blown away. They love school and they love to learn, something they take with them outside the classroom. The kids are pushed and stretched intellectually, not drilled and killed.
NIST is not the only game in town. Bangkok is blessed with many excellent schools. Among them are ISB (American), Pattana (British), Ruamrudee (Catholic), KIS (IB) and Harrow (British). I am familiar with parents and students from all of these schools and they all offer a a good to excellent quality education. The most international, other than NIST, are ISB and Pattana. Your school choice will be a combination of two things, location and curriculum. NIST is in the city center. ISB is in the Northern suburbs, Pattana is East of the city, and the other schools are also outside of the city center. - Jul 2012
We do not have children, but I am a teacher and found a lot of great options for schools here. They are cutting edge and there are several higly competetive schools. If you want to live in the city, make sure you consider the options for school in the city: NIST, KIS, Patana, etc which are great schools, just not affiliated with the embassy. - Oct 2011
I sometimes teach International students at my language school. They are mostly very intelligent, polite and courteous. Usually the children speak quite highly of their teachers. - Aug 2011
Our son goes to preschool near the embassy. Cost is $10,000+ per year for 1/2 days at the nicer places. - Jul 2011
Not surprisingly, I hear both good and bad about the 3 major schools Embassy folks utilize: Patana (British), NIST (downtown on former ISB campus) and ISB (North of city in Nonthaburi province where Embassy housing is located and we live). ISB has a wonderful headmaster who will sadly be departing at the end of the 2011-12 school year. I have to believe that compared to other international schools this place has a lot to offer in terms of sports, extracurricular, and so forth. The high school is IB and the graduates appear to do well. Elementary school has an energetic team running the show. The middle school is probably the weak link - not terribly impressed with the principal; vice principal seems more invested. We've enjoyed both private and top-notch public U.S. schools so we aren't overly impressed with the quality of education here, to be honest, but we aren't miserable either and our kids are happy, so hey! Some of the teachers are amazing and, as with anywhere, some are more lemony who probably should think about retiring or reevaluating their chosen profession. We weren't prepared for the racism at the school - it's demoralizing to see but definitely exists in all directions. I know that could exist anywhere, though, so more a comment on our deflated "It's a Small World" expectations attendant to moving abroad. You could try and buck the trend and attend Patana but it is really tough given housing. If you have high school kids, your best bet w/ activities and such is ISB unless you want your kid on a bus for hours during each day. Busses were a real problem during the unrest. Families w/ younger kids seem to like both downtown and local options. - Feb 2011
There are several well-known international schools, but I don't have children, so can't speak to them personally. Friends with children in school seem quite happy with their quality, even for special needs students. - May 2010
This is a great post if you have children. The top three schools in Bangkok are ISB, NIST, and the British school. - Apr 2010
There are many in this city, offering English as the primary language. - Jan 2010
Unlike many other larger cities, where there are only a handful of international schools to choose from, Bangkok has literally dozens. Most of the Americans in Bangkok choose to send their child/children to ISB (International School of Bangkok), which is a US-curriculum-based school with almost 2,000 students. Second in the running for American students is NIST (New International School Thailand). NIST is also a US-curriculum-based school with a much smaller enrollment than ISB. As of last year, there were only 12 U.S. Embassy students enrolled at NIST, with the remaining almost 300 U.S. Embassy students enrolled at ISB. ISB is the largest international school in Thailand, and everything on the premises is state-of-the-art. After you tour the place, you have a better understanding as to why the elementary school tuition alone is right at $25,000 annually. We have children attending ISB, and we simply love it. NIST, while also a good school- lives in the shadows of ISB, in that it's downtown, and the facilities are cramped and not nearly as modern as those at ISB. The bulk of the students enrolled at NIST are truly international, in that their families are affiliated with the UN here. In short, NIST has much more of an international feel, whereas ISB has more of an American feel. The third most popular school among the expats would be the British-curriculum-based, Pattana school. We have quite a few British friends, many of whom send their children to Pattana. The school has an excellent reputation, regardless of who you talk to. Additionally, I'd like to comment on the recent posting of the American family residing out here in Nichada Thani that opted to pull their children out of ISB and enroll them at Pattana. ISB clearly isn't the perfect fit for every child, depending on the needs of the child of course. But a sa current PTA board member, I am of the opinion that parents in general are very satisfied with the school. - Jul 2009
Lots of schools for what you want. ISB is still apremier school and has an outstanding staff. You will find it is more simliar to private schools in the US, than anything else, if that is what you are looking for. Bangkok Patana is a great British school with outstanding facilities also, if the British system is what you are looking for. NIST is another great choice despite the big chip on the shoulder attitude and a little bit cramped and crowded downtown campus (Air quality issues also). If you are looking to live 'outside the bubble' a little, be in clean air, and have you kids exposed to authentic cross-cultural experiences on a daily basis, then you might make a consideration for Ruamrudee International School. Back in the early '90s, BPS, ISB and Ruamrudee were the only schools in town. Ruamrudee still has about 10% western expat plus a good deal of Japanese, Indian, Korean and Taiwanese along with the 50% Thai and dual passport students. It is the only school in the country offering a large quantity of AP classes and also offers the full IB diploma. It does have the best kids in the country, athough it does not have the most American or British kids. Academically, it has a lot more to offer. Extracurricularly, RIS has great sports teams, lots of Drama, and other activites for kids. It boasts the best Robotics program in HS Asia, its math team won the Ulta-competitive WORLD championship and it also has the Jeremiah singers, known as the best HS level international school singing group anywhere in the world. Its teachers and administrators come from the same pool as the other international schools. I know that in the middle school and elementary there are teachers from Harvard, Brown, Cornell and graduates of other top schools. I have been staggeringly surprised at what is a gem of a school in Bangkok, for three quaters of the price of the others. Most of the Thai elite and government ministry kids are in attendance here. Don't over look Ruamrudee and the unique experience it can provide for your kids, as you look at internatinal schools. Plus, it is halfway between the city and the airport. - Apr 2009
I've decided to write a report because I didn't hear this before we arrived. All I heard and read was that ISB was great -and that most Americans, especially Embassy families -go there. We were very disappointed with ISB. We tried it for our elementary child for 2 years, and would say it's "average" academically. Our public school in Northern Virginia was much better. The facilities at ISB are really nice, and many families choose ISB because of the planned community housing surrounding the school. However, if you're expecting a good private school education with individual attention for your child and motivated teachers, ISB is not your place. Many parents I know are frustrated. (The biggest concern we and other families have had is that bright children are bored and not appropriately challenged.) When parents have spoken to the Administration or individual teachers, they feel brushed aside. Those parents who are most disturbed are former teachers. Some of these parents give their children extra work after school so they won’t be behind when they move. Several have actually moved into town to switch schools. We switched to Bangkok Patana this year, and are absolutely amazed by the difference. The curriculum is British (and structured), but the school is very international and creative. Lessons are differentiated based on prior knowledge or ability, so all students are appropriately engaged and challenged. Some may think the British school would be strict (i.e., “keep a stiff upper lip” mentality), but that has not been our experience at all. It’s a very caring environment and very welcoming to parent involvement (e.g., in the classroom at any time). Lessons and assignments are creative and well designed, and I honestly feel our children are getting an exceptional education. To us, Patana seems worth the private school tuition (which is less than ISB’s). Other parents I know who have switched feel the same way. From the moment we toured Patana we noticed a difference. We talked to children, observed teachers with their classes and reviewed student work samples. We also saw the facilities and heard about athletics and extracurricular activities (which are every bit as impressive as ISB’s, minus the planned housing community around it) –but the focus was on the students, curriculum and learning. Patana may not be for everyone, but we are just thrilled and only wish we knew about it earlier. To be fair, I’ve heard many good things about NIST as well, and I know of a few families who switched from ISB to NIST and are happy. There may be some, but I don’t know of any families who left NIST or Patana to attend ISB. - Mar 2009
The three best schools in Bangkok are purported to be ISB (the American school in Nichada, surrounded by a planned community where many Americans live), Bangkok Pattana School (a British curriculum school east of the city), and the New International School of Thailand (located downtown on Sukhumvit soi 15). All of these schools are terrific places. Our daughter attends NIST and it compares very favorably to the private school she attended in New York City. We may even like it even more. There are many other excellent choices as well among the large number of private schools here in Bangkok. - Feb 2009