Parent stories: Phuket
In this interview Eriko describes how she came to choose an international school for her boys on the tropical resort island of Phuket in Thailand.
How long have you lived in Phuket?
We’ve lived here for seven years already, having moved to Phuket from Japan. Before moving here, my two sons had been studying at the British School in Tokyo. During their sixth year of attending the school in Tokyo, my husband moved to Cambodia for his business. We started looking for other international schools located in the Southeast Asian region where my kids could receive good education.
How did you find out about the school in Phuket?
While we were travelling in Singapore for the purposes of finding some potential schools for my sons, one of our very close Japanese friends, who lived in Phuket, invited us to stay at their villa, and highly recommended the British International School, Phuket, where their own son had been studying.
When you visited the school, what was most useful on the visit?
When we first stepped into the school, which has a 39-acre campus, and took our first glance at the sporting facilities, like the 50m and 25m pools, 12 football pitches and the 6 tennis courts, I was intuitively convinced that this school was the ideal environment for my kids and would widen the opportunities for them in the future in terms of both academics and sport. At the same time, viewing the classrooms, we happened to find the same curriculum and environment that was present at the British School in Tokyo, which gave me and my sons a shared feeling that this was the right school for them.
What were the most important criteria for you when you were looking for a school? Was there anything you were especially concerned about?
I’d been looking for schools where students are able to find a good balance between academics and sports. To fulfil this, BIS Phuket provides a huge campus and offers sporting and many other opportunities for all students of various ages.
Back when I was 4 years of age, I had the experience of studying abroad in New York, where I always felt inferior compared to other students in the class, due to the fact that I couldn’t speak English. I didn’t want my kids to feel the same way and so that is why my ambition was and will always be for my kids to gain an international education within an English-language environment.
"...teachers will motivate them to work harder..."
The school has to be a place where the students can have fun learning. In the classes of the Primary school in BISP, I found that no textbooks were being used. In my opinion, utilising the outgoing, lively characteristics of younger children, BISP teachers create an environment where students can express their thoughts with freedom. I believe that constantly working with textbooks would limit a student's ability to express and share ideas. As progress is made by students, the teacher will praise them and motivate them to work harder. My boys have always enjoyed going to classes and are always optimistic about going to school on a day-to-day basis.
Do you have any further comments to make about the academic side of your children's schooling in Phuket?
The most convincing factor for me is that most “British” international schools in the world are adopting the British National Curriculum. Most kids enrolling in such a school will follow the same curriculum no matter where they are. Whether your school is in London, Tokyo or even Phuket, a tropical resort island in Thailand, all kids will experience the same curriculum everywhere. I believe that the curriculum here is very successful and I’ve found that students are able to study abroad after studying here and adapt very easily.
How can I prove BISP's successful academic record? Well, it is a non-selective school with a 96% IB diploma pass rate in 2014 (compared to the 79% worldwide average) and has an IB Diploma average score of 33 points (compared to the 29.8 worldwide average). On top of that, the number of students enrolling here, approximately 850 from more than 60 countries, do not have English as a first language. So to have such high IB Diploma pass rates is a fantastic achievement. This is a major factor that has surprised me the most about school life in Phuket.
Do you have any advice for families moving to Phuket?
The thing that I’d like to underline is that being able to use the boarding facilities at the school can be very handy. When parents have to urgently rush back to their country for any reason, they can leave their children without any worries, as they are supervised by kind boarding staff, are offered healthy meals and laundry services are provided. It is a very friendly and welcoming environment.
When it comes to daily life here, running though the countryside of the island you will come across the Andaman ocean and beautiful beaches appear before you. I have to admit that I do miss the changing seasons in our home country, Japan, but stunning sunrises and sunsets at beautiful beaches are always available in Phuket – a good way to start and end your day.
It does indeed sound like a beautiful place to live! Many thanks Eriko for sharing your experiences with Winter's.