Bangkok, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 03/07/23
Personal Experiences from Bangkok, Thailand
International School of Bangkok (ISB)
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I'm a parent of three children currently attending this school.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
Relocation to Thailand.
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Bangkok has many (40+) international Schools, many of them Tier 1. We chose ISB as it is located within the Nichada Thani neighborhood which makes it easier for our kids as they can bike to school every day.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
Yes, good process.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
It is OK, we went through normal and expected procedures when our kids started.
The school is promoting a very "progressive" social agenda. At no point in time during our initial approach to the school was this mentioned. Had we known, we would not have chosen ISB as such "progressive" (which I feel is a misnomer for woke-ness) approach is in direct contravention of our family and professional values.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
This is the single biggest source of dissatisfaction for the following reasons, in my opinion:
1. There is no effective communication between administration and parents and it can feel that parents are left in the dark. Although there is a lot of information directed to parents via email (3-5 emails per week with plenty of announcements), there is no feedback loop to parents that would ensure effective communication.
2. This year we were frankly surprised by the school when we were made aware of the "progressive" view the school holds on topics which are increasingly controversial worldwide (Gender Identity etc.). In my opinion, we were misled when the topics of "health and wellbeing" (Sexuality & Gender Identity) were discussed during a meeting in which the school attempted to gain our trust by assuring us that all topics for 10 year olds would be based on a scientific approach. We were dismayed when there was a joint middle and high school session on GSA (Gender and Sexualities Alliance - an activist group that promotes trans ideology and political subjects - cancel the police, etc.) in which the students talked about their "gender experience."
We find the school to be highly activist on many controversial topics. This is not something we had expected at one of the most expensive private schools in Thailand.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
You must pay for uniforms, all musical instruments used in after-school activities and for most after school activities.
Academics & Resources:
1. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
No there isn't.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
It has three large libraries, for elementary, middle and high school.
3. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
3rd grade to 5th school provides.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Sports is one area in which ISB excels: there are several gyms, swimming pools and have plenty of facilities for tennis, badminton, track & field, basketball, soccer, baseball.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
About one teacher per 24 students (plus one auxiliary teacher per classroom)
6. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
No strengths or weaknesses have become apparent so far.
Academically, we think the school is good in math, reading and writing.
Our view is that in Social Sciences, they are taking a very unscientific approach and clearly promoting an agenda.
7. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes, most of the faculty are native English speakers.
8. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
None that we are aware of.
9. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
The school has good support for students requiring additional help. Our experience has been mostly positive on this regard.
10. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Plenty of after-school activities and you must pay for most of these. All kinds of sports are available: soccer, baseball, basketball, badminton, tennis, swimming, dance, ballet, jazz, and tap.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
For my answers above, we think the school is extremely welcoming to LGBT+
The only exclusionary behaviour appears to be from the faculty towards parents who like us, who do not espouse the views of having young kids exposed to one-sided teachings.
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes. There is a significant presence of Thai nationals, and the expats to locals ratio seems to be lower than other International Schools in Bangkok. Our kids have no problem integrating and making friends with kids from all over, including Thailand.
3. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
No different from other schools. There are cliques same as everywhere.
4. What is the climate for students who identify as ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious minorities at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Have your children had any experiences in this area?
The school is very diverse even if Thai nationals make up the biggest group.
5. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?
This has never been an issue with us one way or the other.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
C- ISB has fantastic sports programs and awesome facilities (A+ if these were the only criteria). Unfortunately, the values of the school do not align with ours. In our family we believe that academic excellence and critical thinking are paramount ingredients to success, had we known the school better, we would not have chosen it.
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
We would advise prospective parents to research the curriculum and values carefully before choosing this school.