Q+A: British International School, Phuket
The British International School, Phuket (BISP), situated on this beautiful tropical island in Thailand, answers our questions and takes us on a guided tour of the school...
What happens when parents visit the school?
Though drop-in visits are welcome, parents are encouraged to book an appointment before visiting BISP, to ensure the Admissions staff are available to meet them and take them on a tour. Upon arrival, they will be given an introduction to the school, and then taken on a tour of the campus – along the way we are able to answer any specific questions they may have.
What curriculum do you follow?
We follow the United Kingdom National Curriculum, which has been enriched and adapted to meet the needs of our international student body. After Pre-School and Primary, external examinations are offered in the IGCSE and IB Diploma. There is a particular focus on developing the skills of researching, collaborating, communicating and self-management.
How old is the school?
BISP was founded in 1996, and celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2016. Covering more than 40 acres, with Early Years, Primary and Secondary sections that cover ages from 18 months to 18 years, it is one of the largest school campuses in Asia. With its red brick and soaring roofs, the main teaching building was designed to resemble a classic British boarding school.
Can you give me a breakdown of where your students come from?
We have more than 60 different nationalities represented, with 60% foreigners, 20% of mixed Thai-foreign background and 20% Thai. Our larger groups include British, Thai, Russian, Australian, French, American, Korean, Japanese, Swedish and New Zealanders, though we also have students from as far afield as Moldova, Costa Rica, Israel and South Africa.
What accreditations do you have?
We have accreditation from University of Cambridge International Examinations, International Baccalaureate (IB), World Academy of Sport, Council of International Schools (CIS), New England Association of Schools and Colleges, International Schools Association of Thailand, Boarding Schools Association and the Federation of British International Schools in Asia.
What assessments are required to enrol?
Entry assessment to enrol at BISP covers English Language testing, non-verbal reasoning, mathematical ability and language ability. Based on the assessment and other information, such as previous school reports, a reference check with current school and an interview, the Head of Primary or Secondary determines if a place in the school is appropriate for your child.
Do you have a cafeteria?
Yes, although we prefer to call it a refectory. Every child in the school receives a daily snack – fresh fruit, sandwiches and baked goods – and lunch, which offers a selection of Thai and Western hot meals, plus a healthy salad bar and fresh fruit station. On Fridays, we have homemade ice cream as a special dessert. These meal costs are included in the fees.
How do most children travel to and from school?
The school owns and operates its own fleet of minibuses, which pick up and drop off students all over Phuket – the buses are equipped with GPS tracking devices to ensure absolute safety and convenience. Many parents also choose to bring their children to school by car every day; as such we provide a secured car park exclusively for parents, students and visitors.
What facilities do you offer?
The iconic Secondary building is home to classrooms, laboratories, auditorium, art and music centres, while the primary building is based on a pod design. In addition, the school has 11 grass playing fields, a sports hall, gymnasium, fitness centre, three basketball courts, two swimming pools, six tennis courts, design technology facilities and eight boarding houses.
Do you have a swimming pool on site?
Yes, we actually have two pools. There is the 50m Olympic-size swimming pool – one of only a few in Phuket – which is also the training centre for our high-performance swim team. Then we also have a 25m pool, which is used for our learn-to-swim and Flying Fish development programmes. Both of these pools are open-air, and are also used for general PE swim classes.
What is the background of your teaching staff?
We have more than 100 fully qualified foreign teachers, with the majority of them British (as well as Australians, Canadians, Americans and New Zealanders), with degrees and in many cases master's degrees. While some have come direct from working in the United Kingdom, most come to BISP after having worked in top international schools throughout the world.
What additional help do you provide for children with learning difficulties?
Our Additional Educational Needs department includes several learning support teachers, as well as a dedicated speech therapist. They are there to assist students across the school, as all children may have additional needs at some point in order to help develop their learning. They provide in-class support, devise individualised learning plans, and liaise with parents.
Do you offer school counselling services?
It's known that our social and emotional wellbeing, as well as our physical wellbeing, is important if we are to be content and successful in our lives. That's why the BISP Counselling Department supports our whole school community – students, parents and staff – in issues concerning mental wellbeing, working within strict guidelines that support confidentiality.
How important is the music and arts in your school?
Extremely. While we have a very successful high-performance sports programme, we also place great emphasis on the arts. We run a BISP Art & Design Academy for promising students, and have had student artists ranked Top in the World at IGCSE. In music, we have a wind-instrument programme for all Year 7 students, who study it throughout Key Stage 3.
Do you have a drama programme?
As our drama teacher is fond of saying, “Drama is life." From Year 7, each student tackles the problems of working together, creating an ensemble, giving the spotlight to someone else, trying to act without thinking, being truly in the moment and listening. We hold an annual whole-school production that has included the Lion King, Grease, Oliver and Seussical.
What options are available for children who are boarding?
We offer a variety of flexible boarding options, including Full Boarding (boarders stay in school for the duration of each half term); Weekly Boarding (students board from Monday to Friday); Day Boarding (students have school dinner and then complete prep in the house); Weekend Boarding (students return to the boarding houses after school on Friday); and Temporary Boarding (students become full or weekly boarders for a short period of time).
How do you help and prepare students for college and university?
BISP has experienced College Counsellors, who provide information and offer advice to students and parents through one-on-one meetings, presentations and written materials. They provide guidance regarding IGCSE and IB subject choices, standardised testing and other aspects related to selecting and applying to colleges and universities all over the world.
Do you offer the Duke of Edinburgh Award?
BISP is proud to deliver The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, the world’s leading youth achievement award – with Bronze, Silver and Gold levels – which combines practical experiences and life skills to equip young people for life. Since it was founded in 1956, over eight million young people have participated in the Award in 140 countries and territories.
Are sports important at your school?
In a word: yes. Alongside the inclusive whole-school sports and PE programme, BISP has a senior student High-Performance Sports College that covers the five core sports of swimming, football, tennis, golf and triathlon. The college aims to produce world-class athletes who either move on to a career in professional sport, or obtain a university or college scholarship.
What activities do you offer for parents?
We provide both Thai and English classes for parents every school year, covering different levels of ability, and run by BISP teachers. In addition, we have external providers that offer courses as diverse as dance, yoga and pilates, as well as active parent sports teams, such as netball and football. Parents are also welcome to use our sports facilities at designated hours.
All images: BISP
To view the Winter's profile for BISP, please go to this link.