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Jerudong International School (JIS)

Jerudong International School (JIS) is a British co-ed school of 1,600+ students ages 2-18, near Bandar Seri Begawan. Curricula include National Curriculum for England, GSCEs, IGCSEs, A-levels and IBDip.

  • Jerudong International School (JIS)
    Jalan Universiti
    Kampong Tungku
    Bandar Seri Begawan, BE 2119
    Brunei
  • Mailing address:
    Jerudong International School (JIS)
    P.O. Box 1408
    Bandar Seri Begawan
    Brunei
    BS8672
  • T +673 241 1000
  • F +673 241 1010
  • E [email protected]
  • W www.jerudongin…onalschool.com
  • Lower School Ages: 2-11
  • Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Lower School Numbers: 530 boys and girls
  • Middle School Ages: 11-14
  • Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Middle School Numbers: 420 boys and girls
  • Senior School Ages: 14-18
  • Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
  • Senior School Numbers: 670 boys and girls
  • Total School Numbers: 1,680 boys and girls
  • Teaching Language: English
  • SEN: Mainstream with SEN support
  • Boarding: Available
  • Uniform: yes
  • School Year: Late August to December; January to March; April to July Ten day half-terms
  • School Hours: Junior School: Mon-Thurs 7.30am-2.45pm (Nursery until 11.30am, Kindergarten until 12.30pm, Rec-Y2 until 2pm), Middle and Senior School (Mon-Thurs): 7.30am-3pm. Friday for all School 7.30am - 11.45am. (Co-Curricular Activities are before, during and after School. Earliest from 6:40am. Latest until 5:35pm)
  • Fee Currency: Brunei Dollar (BND)
  • Fee Details: Annual Tuition Fees: Day students (Nursery -Year 13): 12,600 - 26,952 i Boarding Year 7-13 (plus tuition): Weekly Boarding (5 nights): 23,500 Full Boarding: 29,500
  • Fee Extras: Uniform, stationery, text books, intensive language programme (if applicable), school trips
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Memberships: IB World School; Member of Headmasters’ and Headmistresses Conference (HMC); Accredited Member of Council of British International Schools (COBIS);Member of Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA); Member of Boarding Schools Association (BSA)
  • State/Independent: Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation)

Curricula:

  • A-Levels
  • GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • International Baccalaureate (Diploma)
  • National Curriculum for England

Accreditations/Inspections:

  • BSO (British Schools Overseas inspection programme)
  • Penta International (DfE BSO approved)

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The Good Schools Guide International. Period.

What The Good Schools Guide International says

Head

Principal Nicholas Sheehan*

Age

Forties

Description

Since 2019; Nicholas Sheehan, with geography degrees, spent the first ten years of his teaching career in Devon, in the West Country of England. He has also been an editor at Harper Collins for the past ten years. He started his experience at Jerudong in 2012 as a geography teacher and his risen through the ranks, becoming academic director in 2014 and assistant principal in 2018.

Academic

JIS is the only international school in Brunei offering British GCSE, A Level and IB Diploma academic programmes. Parents welcome this choice as well as the wide range of subjects offered. The IB is becoming more popular, partly because of its critical thinking and global awareness.

Always a good sign, they post all their results and in 2018, the IB highlights found 94 per cent of students exceeding the world average of 29.8, 36 per cent achieving 40 points or more and an overall average score of 37 points. 133 students sat A level examinations with nearly 31 per cent gaining A*-A and 50.9 per cent were awarded A* -B.

Despite the pressure to get results, the school does not appear to let this affect its pupils in a negative way. If anyone is struggling, help is readily given with multiple systems in place for top-up and question answering. There’s an awareness amongst pupils that the school is good at steering them towards what they can do best; that it is developing people, not just brains; and at the same time making them become responsible pupils. As one student put it: 'If anything the pressure will come from the pupils themselves.'

Both parents and pupils have a high regard for the teaching staff (roughly 200), drawn primarily from the UK, Australia and New Zealand. All are university graduates, some with postgraduate degrees and an increasing number with doctorates. The average teacher age in JIS is 44 and as many as 37 teachers have been at JIS for more than 10 years. That is a highly significant statistic for many parents and pupils who value that continuity and the inspiration which many of the more mature teachers can bring to both the classroom and school life more generally.

Class sizes up to and including year 9 are moderate with around 20-22 pupils. The ratio of pupils to full-time equivalent teaching staff is 1:10 (reception-year 13).

We usually let the accredition speak for itself (probably the single most important thing to look for in any school), but this remarkable report from Penta deserves special mention: Jerudong is the first international school in the world accredited by Penta to be rated as outstanding or at the highest level in all of the 9 new categories.

SEN

The school has a SEN department and an educational psychologist on the staff. Whilst intake is selective, support is given to those who can handle the mainstream curriculum. The school points to a recent notable Oxbridge entry success in this context. But they readily admit to not running any sort of parallel system for SEN pupils beyond non-severe cases of dyslexia etc.

Language Support

Open to both Bruneian and expatriate families. Many eligible Bruneian students get Government help with their fees. But the medium of teaching throughout the school is English. The language options for expatriate students are Chinese, French, Mandarin or Malay; and help is available for those whose mother tongue is not English.

Bruneian students study Bahasa Melayu (first language Malay). Ugama, the study of Islam, is taught daily in Malay and is compulsory for all Bruneian Muslim students. This is done on site by specialist Government-employed teachers in a separate building when core classes are over. But none of this need concern most expatriate applicants.

Games, Arts and Options

Games is compulsory from years 3 to 9, after which it is moulded to suit older tastes and offer wider choices. No outside network exists for competitive sports, so the school has to make do with internal keenly-fought house matches.
Still the aim remains to provide a lifelong love for physical activity, whether through sport or the vast number of co-curricular activities to choose from – many of which are physical in nature.

JIS boasts world-class arts and drama facilities, exploiting them to the full with show-case concerts, musicals and plays. They are always popular with pupils and parents, as well as with others looking to enjoy the cultural experience. The state of the art musical facilities even include a recording studio.

Background and Atmosphere

To fully understand what this school has to offer, you first need to grasp the exceptional scale and quality of its facilities and equipment. JIS has a fortunate history, designed and built in the 90s as a lavish project with no expense spared. It is owned and funded by government but run as an independent school.

Doors first opened in 1997, but since then its facilities and equipment continue to be regularly extended, improved and updated to the highest standards, particularly with a state-of-the-art sports centre and several restaurants and cafes on site, all accessible and cash-free thanks to students' electronic credit.
The campus is enormous, the largest by physical area of any international school in the world, and pupils need careful orientation in their first week in order not to get lost and be late for class! What’s more, the benefits of these world-class facilities come at no additional cost to parents.

It takes some time to walk around just a part of the school buildings. As you look in on classes, you are struck by the variety of activity going on, so much of it practical and participative. Teachers and pupils make you feel welcome, despite your intrusion! You sense both the teachers' dedication and the pupils' confident engagement. And you can't help feeling plain envy at the equipment and facilities at their disposal. At break times there seems to be much diverse activity amongst integrated and highly vocal groups of pupils whilst others appear to seek out quiet spots for catching up or friendship.

The school is keen to further build its boarding business which has over 100 boys and around 80 girls from years 6 to 13. These are almost exclusively weekly boarders but the aim is to attract an increasing number of full-time boarders drawn mainly from the South-East Asian region. The attractions are modern purpose-built accommodation in a very safe environment on an enormous campus and with some of the world’s cleanest jungle air. The boarding experience seeks to provide a typically British approach to pastoral care. This is supported by a strong vertically-operating house system to aid integration with pupils of all ages and backgrounds, very much in line with the school’s holistic approach to education.

Pupils and Parents

The current ratio of roughly 60 per cent expatriates to 40 per cent Bruneians seems to be about right. The school prides itself in having a real melting pot of cultures with no less than 50 different nationalities. After the Bruneians (43 per cent), pupils from the UK (16 per cent), Malaysia (8 per cent) and India (5 per cent) are the next largest groupings.

The school’s diversity is a key part of its culture. It is championed at every opportunity and appears to be embraced by most parents too within the broader school community.
Parents of expatriate pupils tend to mix more and get more involved, in general taking rather more active interest than the Bruneians. This contrast is probably in part a cultural thing.

The value of such an undoubtedly good school is that for parents coming to Brunei, you can happily bring your children with you rather than having to seek alternative boarding choices. It also means that as parents you can share with your children in the community life of the school. Indeed, as one parent put it, JIS is a community at school, not somewhere you simply send your kids off to learn everything by rote.

JIS has been particularly successful in establishing and maintaining a fine balance between the local Bruneian culture and that of the international community. This is achieved through a pragmatic approach to student involvement in any activity with which they or their parents might feel uncomfortable.

The school also teaches pupils that freedom of thought and respect for others’ cultures and systems are both desirable and wholly compatible.

Pastoral Care and Discipline

No-one pretends there’s no bullying but the school claims to be vigilant and has preventive systems in place. Most effective is probably the house system for all pupils, ensuring that children of different ages spend time bonding together every day in a form of vertical tribalism. Without exception, parents speak highly of the house system and its many benefits.

The school has also made strenuous efforts to improve pastoral care in the boarding context which has again helped to minimise the risks of bullying. Whether or not true, it was encouraging to hear one pupil volunteer that they simply didn’t have time for it! For serious misbehaviour, there is a zero-tolerance policy and expulsions where necessary.

Expat

Most parents agree that JIS continues to be one of Brunei’s great success stories. But human nature will still guarantee a few moans as well as genuine concerns. Now with 1650 pupils, it has got too large for some but the school is aware of the problem. Parents also lament the loss of good teachers although turnover through natural wastage is actually low (6 per cent).

In response to other concerns, the school has improved liaison with parents through use of a data-sharing IT programme called Firefly, regular coffee mornings and the appointment of an experienced teacher as a community liaison officer who, according to one parent, is 'good at defusing issues'.

Entrance

JIS will look at every application for admission on a case by case basis, looking to see what each child can bring 'to our international mix'. But it is a selective procedure using online subject and cognitive ability tests, to ensure that pupils can 'cope with the curriculum'.

There are not normally waiting lists for entering the school although there appears to be something of a bottleneck at years 6 and 7 where Bruneian pupils get scholarships for entry. The school claims to be managing this issue which should not affect newcomers to the country, especially if they are coming as boarders.

Exit

School leavers are encouraged to go on to a large variety of higher education institutions world-wide, including University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, Brown, Duke, NYU in the US; Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Imperial College, Kings College, LSE, and Durham University in the UK; McGill, U of Toronto, U British Columbia in Canada; top unis in New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the Netherlands.

The higher education advisors have gained what is apparently a well-deserved reputation amongst parents for helping pupils to make the right choices and prepare them, both for their specific entry requirements and more generally for life beyond JIS.

Naturally they are reluctant to see its pupils leave early but support, where they can, the process of transfers to other schools abroad, including the supply of references, liaison on testing etc. Once abroad or back home, parents seem to feel that their children are well-advanced academically compared with other schools they provide clear details on the procedure to follow when leaving.

Money Matters

Some parents have the usual gripes about fee rise and other costs. Although the fees do inevitably increase, they are still cheaper than most comparable international schools in the region and there is now a programme of scholarships available for overseas boarders. Head claims that 'in terms of bang for your buck, it’s difficult to do better' and he’s probably right.

Since the school is owned by the Government, there seems to be little if any risk of financial problems or of parents being asked to fill financial gaps. This has to be taken as a safe assumption, as such details are not readily available to parents.

Governance seems to be very much a matter for the Bruneian authorities although it is clear that there is a heavy reliance on the educational professionalism of senior school staff both in the daily running of the school and in reaching important decisions.

Remarks

So what makes this school so special and successful? In a nutshell, its unrivalled campus and facilities, the creative spirit, the inspiration and commitment of its teachers and its pragmatic leadership. And one parent’s verdict: 'JIS has grown into a world-class facility, producing some of the best students in South-East Asia.'

At the risk of overpraising the school, there is one final observation to be made. This concerns the infectious enthusiasm you feel absolutely everywhere on campus -- the surest and most noticeable sign of a very healthy school.


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