The big mango as it’s lovingly referred too isn’t just a place for mouth-watering food, pristine beaches and centuries-old temples, it has a booming tech business making it an attractive option for digital nomads as well as international execs with families in tow. Since the pandemic brought the world to a standstill more people have been looking towards Thailand as a major travel hub for Asia, the affordable cost of living and the emergence of more world-quality international schools.
- Education in Bangkok
- Choosing a school in Bangkok
- Special education needs in Bangkok
- Pre-schools, kindergartens and nurseries in Bangkok
- Best schools in Bangkok
The first option is the public system which follows the national curriculum set by the government. This runs up to the end of the first three years of secondary education and then divides into two non-mandatory streams – academic and vocational/technical. This can be an option for multicultural families if your child is bilingual as for public schools Thai language is a must.
However, international families are far more likely to choose the alternative route of Thai private schools which are cheaper than their global counterparts and expose students to local language and culture. These schools offer a bilingual programme in English and Thai, but check them out carefully as the quality of the programme can vary significantly and again a basic knowledge of Thai is necessary as outside of academic bilingual classes, the language of communication will be Thai.
When it comes to international schools, there are over a hundred to choose from, although some will inevitably tick more boxes than others. The selection falls into three main categories:
- The ‘old timers’ schools that have been around for 75-plus years with established success rates.
- The more recent new arrivals, especially offshoots of several famous British schools as Bangkok starts to attract some of the big names in English education.
- The privately-owned Thai international schools where the medium of instruction is English and with various curricula on offer.
Bangkok is a big, bustling city with infamous traffic jams, so finding a school close to where you intend to live is highly recommended unless you want to spend hours running your kiddos back and forth from school - a journey may take 25 mins one day and two hours the next!
The bonus about Bangkok is the excellent public transport network from the MTR subway, the BTS SkyTrain and the infamous Bangkok taxi and motorbike (if you’re brave enough) services. If you take the decision to live in an area not connected by public transport then a good idea is to ask the schools about what bus services they offer and how frequently they run.
The decision for a city campus vs a campus further to the edge of the city is not just about space (there’s no coincidence that the schools the furthest out have the most impressive sprawling sports grounds) but also fresh air and exposure to the not so finer things Bangkok lifestyle has to offer!
Bangkok is notorious for air pollution during certain months of the year and there are times when students are not allowed out into the playground due to poor air quality. While most schools compensate by creating fabulous indoor play areas as well as outdoor, the school’s further out of town benefit from lower levels of pollution purely due to wide open spaces and less traffic (which contributes heavily to the pollution in city schools).
The bigger well-established schools draw a larger proportion of Thai families keen to have a recognised school brand on their kid's pedigree with high academic standards. All international schools have a quota system for how many students of each nationality they allow to attend but you will often find schools manipulate this system with many Thai families who hold dual nationality, which leaves the quota system slightly askew. We’ve even heard whispers of some schools introducing a (favourable) Caucasian entry fee to try and keep numbers balanced. However, don't get put off by how many Thai students are in a school as it helps keep the work ethic strong and is a fabulous way for kids to integrate into local culture and community.
The international schools offer a variety of curriculum from British I/GCSEs, A levels, Btec, US high school diplomas and APs and the vast majority of the schools will offer the IB Diploma as one of the graduating pathways. If it’s mother tongue programmes you are after, then several schools offer support for a whole multitude of languages but very few offer a fully bilingual programme.
Campuses range from good to superb with some pretty impressive playgrounds and facilities and several schools have recently moved into new purpose-built grounds while others have ongoing programmes of refurbishments and upgrades. A good tip is to check the school for their refurbishment schedule as you don’t want to find your kids learning around a building site, especially if you have a short-term posting!
Finding the right school is a tough enough challenge without the extra difficulty of trying to find a school that offers excellent special needs education or learning support but fear not, Bangkok is a place that offers support! Some students require extra assistance to springboard them into a mainstream curriculum whereas others need to attend a school that can support and guide them to find their own unique mould.
Special educational needs in Bangkok have moved up a notch in the last decade with most schools now having a special needs department and some offering a fully supported programme with special classes and teaching assistants. St. Andrew's International School (a Nord Anglia school) offers a fully inclusive campus and created a STARS ‘embracing differences educational programme’ to support SEN learners with learning designed around the individual. In addition, it offers the Orton-Gillingham Dyslexia programme.
ISB (International School Bangkok) offers certified support teams and experienced special educators, speech-language pathologists, and school psychologists. They also have an occupational therapist to provide support for a (carefully managed) number of students with mild, moderate, and intensive learning needs.
Bangkok also has a variety of more specialised support schools with eg Newday Learning & Little Sprouts offering families a lifeline and a supported educational journey.
And lastly, what about your little ones. Not all parents want to or are ready to send their precious little bundles into a larger school environment - why start the international school debate so early? The decision to attend a large international school versus a smaller independent preschool is strictly personal and depends on each individual family’s situation and if you want to be taxi mum (or dad), quite literally driving kids all over the city.
Thankfully Bangkok offers excellent options for pre-schools and kindergartens offering a wide variety of learning styles. In most areas across the city you will find two or three pre-school options and a top tip is to find a preschool close to where you are living. No one wants to sit in Bangkok traffic for an hour in the pouring rain with a tired grumpy pre-schooler. The central Sukhumvit areas of the city offer a wider variety of pre-schools with less options as you move towards the suburbs. The green leafy streets of Thonglor, Ekkamai and Sathorn are popular areas and here you will also find a host of kids’ activity centres and specialist kids cafes.
American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 3-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 450 students
Founded in 1983 ASB Green Valley offers a full American curriculum. The Green Valley campus is in an appropriately verdant setting and not only offers academic training, leading to scholarships at major global universities, but is also home to the only junior golf academy in Asia. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Australian curriculum/ Cambridge 2/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned
The school has a separate campus in a residential area in central Bangkok for children starting in nursery and continuing to year one. The main campus, a short distance away caters for students from year one to year 12. The school is also intending to offer year 13 university preparatory courses to satisfy the English proficiency requirements of universities in English speaking countries.
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ I/GCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 2,200 students
Founded in 1957, making it one of the three ‘grandes dames’ of Thailand schools. The school probably houses the largest percentage of UK passport holders (nearly 25 per cent) of any school in Bangkok and offers an English education up to I/GCSE and then the IB Diploma. Not only one of the oldest but also, the largest international schools in the city.
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ I/GCSE/ A Level; ages 2-18; co-ed; day independent; privately owned; 1,150 students
Formerly divided into primary and secondary campuses, but now on one large green leafy campus with easy access to sky-train stations, Bangkok’s answer to the traffic mayhem. Another school that has sizable UK and US cohorts with students also coming from other nationalities, such as Australian and Japanese as well as local families.
American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 450 students
One of the newer and smaller schools in Bangkok, opening its doors in 2010. The curriculum is all-American and the students mainly (around 70 per cent) come from US, UK or European families. Strong SAT scores with 20 per cent of students scoring over 1,400 (top 5 per cent globally).
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned
Established in 2016, on a sparkling purpose-built campus in the east of Bangkok. Emphasis on languages with compulsory Thai and Mandarin up to year four. Run in close partnership with its parent school Brighton College UK. The ratio of local students as opposed to children of other nationalities is roughly 60:40.
PYP/ MYP/ IBDP; ages 3-18; co-ed; day independent; privately owned; 960 students
The school offers an all-through IB curriculum but it runs a trilingual (English/Chinese/Thai) programme until the end of grade four, after which all classes are taught in English. By far the largest student cohort is local (85 per cent).
Adapted; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned
The only one of the five nursery and pre-schools in the group to teach a specially adapted curriculum up to the age of eleven. The school caters to 40 different nationalities in the centre of Bangkok.
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ I/GCSE/ A Level; ages 18 months-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 1,665 students
Established over 20 years ago, the school has been entirely re-built and refurbished since 2015 and sits in a spectacular location on the edge of the water. Operated under a license granted by Harrow School, London with close connections to its famous sibling. One of the larger schools in Bangkok with a student community that is around 80 per cent local.
American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 4-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,010 students
A middle-aged school by Thai standards, as it was founded in 1993. A strong Christian ethos and accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Only just over 50 per cent of its students coming from local families with the remainder coming from around 20 other nationalities.
American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP/ IB Diploma; ages 4-18; co-ed; day; private non-profit; 1,750 students
The oldest international school in Bangkok, founded in 1951 for the children of United Nations and US diplomats and still considered by many as one of the top tier schools in the country if not even one of the world’s leading international schools. Unusual for offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma as well as the traditional American graduate qualifications on a large campus with extensive facilities in a green suburb outside of Bangkok. The school has a sizeable American cohort (as well as students from over a hundred nationalities – one of the most diverse in Bangkok) and parents elect the governing body.
Adapted British National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A level; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 1350 students
Opened its doors in 2020 and is the first King’s College international school in South East Asia (founded by and connected to King’s Wimbledon in the UK) Secondary A levels also include a co-curricular programme, an extended research project (EPQ) and a ‘living in the modern world’ programme designed especially for students growing up with an international focus.
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 800 students
One of the relatively rare all through International Baccalaureate schools in Bangkok, and the only one offering all four IB programmes with the addition of the CP (careers programme) in 2022. Founded in 1998, the school has been renovated recently with additional sports and arts facilities and is branded with the acronym KIS – knowledge, inspiration, spirit.
KIS RP - Reingnewood Park
Set to open in August 2024 will be the only full IB boarding school offering all four programmes.
French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Baccalaureate; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state; 1,100 students
Some of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) schools in the Far East have been established for over 50 years but this is a relative newcomer, only opening its doors in 2003. The school is divided into the classic section and the British international section, the latter with additional English language teaching but still following the French curriculum. Also, an option for Thai speakers to have an additional four hours (per week) of teaching in Thai.
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,650 students
A school with a larger contingent of westerners than some of its competitors. ‘New’ is somewhat of a misnomer as it was founded in 1992 (with the support from the Bangkok branch of the United Nations) but it has grown into one of the larger international schools in Bangkok, as well as the first school in Thailand to offer three stages of the IB programme.
International Primary Curriculum/ adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 650 students
The founder, chairman and owner of the school is Dr Virachai Techavijt, who established the school in 2000. A school mainly catering for Thai, Chinese and Korean children. Offering an English curriculum and the IB Diploma.
Adapted American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; private non-profit; 1,200 students
The third of the international schools in Bangkok to have been founded in the 1950’s. Over 60 per cent of the students come from Thai families with cohorts from the USA, India and Japan, prominent among the remainder. An American education but offering the IB Diploma as an alternative qualification.
Adapted British National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A level; ages 2-11; co-ed; day; independent: privately owned;
Part of the overall Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok but offers primary years only (as a separate campus to the primary years offered within the main Riverside campus) chosen by many families due to its central location in Bangkok. Students move seamlessly through to the Riverside campus for secondary education. A largely Thai student cohort.
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,740 students
Unsurprisingly, given its origins, the school has a British cohort but Thai students make up nearly three-quarters of the enrolment. On two campuses, a newly built primary school and an all through school (located right on the riverside, hence its name), producing exceptionally high grades at both GCSE and A level and the highest proportion of Oxbridge students from any school in Thailand.
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,640 students
One of Nord Anglia Education Group’s stable (over 65 global schools), catering to approximately 50 per cent local students and benefitting from the group’s collaboration with the Juilliard School in New York (performing arts) and MIT (STEM). Slightly unusual by Thai international school standards in actively promoting a comprehensive SEN programme throughout the school.
International Primary Curriculum/ International Middle Years Curriculum/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 430 students
Possibly, the highest percentage of Thai students amongst the international schools, with comparatively few other nationalities, although there is usually a small number of students from British families.
American curriculum; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent: privately owned; 200 students
An innovative international school that flung open its hi-tech doors on their impressive campus in 2020. VERSO follows the American curriculum and learning designers (aka teachers) focus on the development of skills to prepare students for an evolving future, 200 students with higher grades opening each academic year.
Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 2-13; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 300 students
Opened in 2018 as the first international Wellington network school outside China. Expanding rapidly to offer both A levels and the IB Diploma. The first school in the world to achieve the highest level of accreditation (COBIS Patron’s Accreditation) from the Council of British International Schools, within the first year of opening its doors.
Adapted American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 750 students
Founded in 1999 and operating on multiple campuses in Bangkok, as well as a brand new international branch at Yangon, Myanmar. Offering an American education to a wide range of nationalities from Europe and the Far East with a sprinkling of Americans and Canadians. Owned by a local education group, which also owns the Bangkok School of Management.
American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned;
XCL ASB is a private international school that has been founded in Bangkok since the early 1980s but was recently taken over by the XCL Education group. It offers an American curriculum to students from pre-kindergarten to grade 12, in a central location in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok.
International Primary Curriculum/ I/GCSE/ A level/ IB Diploma ; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent: privately owned
A Nord Anglia owned school which is one of the few schools in Thailand to offer the choice of both A levels and IB Diploma in sixth form. As part of the Nord Anglia Education family of schools, students also have access to institutions such as The Juilliard School, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and UNICEF.
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 2-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 670 students
Opened in 2017 by the Teepsuwan family in partnership with the famous Rugby School in the UK as the first of its intended network of international schools. The intention being to keep as close as possible to the original ethos (boarding houses etc) but with a local twist for each school and a second venture recently opened in Japan. Brand new, purpose-built campus boasting a gigantic 10,000 square meter sports hall.
National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma/ American High School Diploma; ages 8-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 760 students
Opened in 1996 and a member of the British International Schools group. Offering an English medium education with the option of the International Baccalaureate Diploma or the US qualifying high school diploma. On a large green campus and hot on sport as well as sending graduates to top universities around the world.
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 5-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; private non-profit; 460 students
Founded in 2009, offering an all-through International Baccalaureate education. Located an hour’s flight away from Bangkok to the north of Phuket.