Moving abroad is common for retirees, but many people do so for work as well. Some young adults who move abroad to work find themselves starting families, while others want to bring their families with them as they move across the globe. The challenge is finding good schools for their children. Understanding the subtle differences between school systems can also be a challenge for many. Here is a guide to Thailand’s educational system for expat parents.
Preschool Options for Expat Parents
Many parents enroll children in preschool and kindergarten. In Thailand, kindergarten is for children ages two and three, while pre-school is for children aged three to five. Preschool in Thailand is free, but it isn’t mandatory. Expatriate and local parents can enroll children in private child development centers as well.
An Introduction to International Schools
International schools are schools in Thailand adopt an international curriculum like the International Baccalaureate program or the national curriculum of a different country. International schools that share your home country’s curriculum or the IB program your local school follows mean your kids don’t have to deal with a new curriculum in addition to a new school and different country. Finding a good international early years school Bangkok is ideal if you want to start their education with as little disruption as possible, especially if you want to return home at a later point. International schools attract affluent Thais who want a quality education or to prepare their children for going to college abroad.
International schools are identified by tiers. Tier 1 schools are considered the best, and they typically have national accreditation as well as multiple international accreditations. You’ll pay a premium to attend these schools, but your children will be mostly taught by Western teachers. Tier 2 schools often have national ONESQA accreditation and at least one international accreditation. Tier 3 schools typically have only local ONESQA accreditation. They’re smaller and cheaper. Westerners working in these schools probably don’t have teaching certifications from back home. However, note that tiers are not necessarily an indicator of a school’s quality since a Tier 3 school may provide a better education than a Tier 2 school.
Factors to Consider When Selecting International Schools
Do your research regarding the location of the school. Several Tier 1 schools are centrally located in the biggest cities, but some are located in the far-flung suburbs. And those suburbs are not always served by the mass transit.
A few places offer their own transportation, but that is something you need to find out. Otherwise, you may need to drive through harrowing traffic to take them to school or hire someone else to take them. Another option is a boarding school, but boarding isn’t suitable for all children and isn’t the first choice for most parents.
Cost is a deciding factor for many parents. What most expats don’t know are the hidden fees that can blow their budget. Course fees are sizable in and of themselves. A non-refundable application fee may be necessary to even be considered for enrollment. Registration fees can be steep. Campus development fees pay for the upkeep of facilities and construction of new ones. If your child lives on campus, then boarding fees will be charged. Rates depend on whether the child stays weekly or the family has opted for “full boarding”.
Thailand is a safe, prosperous country, which makes the transition very easy for expats. Understand the educational system and the alternatives so that you can find one that is right for your family.