What are the common international school programs in Thailand? What should you choose?

With so many quality international schools in Thailand, choosing the right one for your child can be difficult. Along with location, languages, and costs, you also need to consider which program fits your child’s learning needs. The wide range of study programs of international schools – with their language-spinning acronyms – can be confusing. To help you, we have compiled the international school programs offered in Thailand below.

Joint International School Programs in Thailand

The curriculum options available at international schools often reflect the national identity of the school. There are three common international school programs in Thailand: American, National English (British), and International Baccalaureate (IB). International schools may offer hybrid choices that combine many types of programs.

American program (US.)

Choosing the US program might make sense for American expats living in Thailand with children already in the US education system. It is also an excellent choice if you want to send your children to prestigious American or international universities or if you plan to return to the United States. Children are more receptive to a familiar educational approach. Although each U.S. state’s educational requirements vary slightly, there are some similar concepts and techniques, such as inquiry-based learning and student-centered planning.

The American or American curriculum in Thailand is based on the American Common Core Standards for English, Language Arts, Mathematics, History and Geography, and Next Generation Science. This gives students greater creative freedom to tailor the program to their specific needs. International schools that follow this American-style curriculum admit children between the ages of 5 and 18. The program is generally divided into 4 stages: preschool or kindergarten (5 years or less), elementary (first to sixth grade; 6 to 11 years old or 7-12), middle school or college (seventh to eighth grade; 12 – 13 or 13 -14 years old) and high school (ninth to twelfth years; 14-17 years old or 15-18 years old).

Students must pass the SAT or ACT exam during their senior years of high school to be accepted into an American university. Students in the US school system may also need to pass three to five Advanced Placement (AP) tests with high scores in order to be accepted for admission to universities in other parts of the world.


International schools with an American curriculum in Thailand are generally accredited by one of four organizations, including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and Cognia. This will increase the likelihood that graduates who pass college entrance exams like the SAT or ACT will be accepted into US colleges and universities and will ensure that high school diplomas from these schools are recognized by these institutions. .

UK National Curriculum

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One of the most popular international school programs in Thailand is the British program. It is usually the preferred choice for families coming from the UK or planning to move there in the future.

The National Curriculum is used in public schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. On the other hand, private schools in the UK are free to choose their own curricula. The National Curriculum framework, which results in students achieving the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and possibly Advanced Level or A-Level subjects, is used by the majority of UK international schools in Thailand.

The program is generally divided into two levels: primary (years 1 to 6) and secondary (years 7 to 11). These levels are further divided into four main levels, called milestones:

  • Milestone 1: Foundation Year and Years 1-2 (5-7 years)
  • Milestone 2: Years 3-6 (ages 7-11)
  • Milestone 3: Years 7 to 9 (11 to 14 years old)
  • Milestone 4: Years 10-11 (14-16)

The main subjects taught in UK schools are English literacy, arithmetic and numeracy, science, art, music, drama, physical education and religion. As students grow, their studies become more specialized. Examinations play an important role in the UK education system and key assessments are given to students. British secondary education is centered on GCSE subject testing and possibly A-Level examinations. The majority of classes are lecture-based, with little homework given throughout the semester. Sometimes there may be no assignments assigned and the student’s final grade will be determined by a single exam.

General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)

At the end of Key Stage 4, students will take the GCSE. Most schools require a student to pass 5 or more GCSE exams at C level or above before being allowed to progress to Key Stage 5 or A levels. beyond Key Stage 4, or if they are unable to pass the GCSE exams, they can end their studies at this stage.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is also becoming more popular.

Key Stage 5 or Sixth Form: Years 12 to 13 (16 to 18)

Most UK international schools in Thailand offer Key Stage 5, also known as Sixth Form Education. This is a two-year course, during which they receive their Advanced Level or A Level qualifications. A Levels are subject-based qualifications required for admission to particular study programs at leading UK and international universities.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

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If you want a truly international education for your children, you can opt for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The IB program was founded in 1968 in Switzerland. It is designed to facilitate the transfer of mobile students around the world between IB Certified World Schools in various countries. The program is recognized in more than 100 countries around the world. To be able to teach the programme, a school must have the authorization of the International Baccalaureate.

Many consider IB to be the gold standard. What sets the IB program apart from others is that it places a strong emphasis on teaching students to think critically and independently. IB students are encouraged to study many languages ​​and examine ideas in local and international contexts.

The IB program is known to be academically challenging, so it requires hard work. However, major universities in the UK and North America generally have a good attitude towards prospective students with an IB degree. Students with an IB diploma often have a better chance of gaining admission to top universities, as well as potential course credit and scholarships.

The IB Continuum offers four programmes:

  • Primary program (PP) for pupils from 3 to 12 years old.
  • Middle Years Program (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16.
  • Diploma Program (DP) for students aged 16-19.
  • Vocational guidance program (CP) for students aged 16 to 19.

The programs build on each other. At 16, students can choose DP or CP to complete their studies.

Not all IB schools in Thailand offer the IB continuum. Some schools combine the American or British curriculum with the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) programs for their students. These schools usually provide the opportunity for their older students (11 to 13 years) to pursue the IBDP.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

The diploma program is a two-year study program. This is the key element that students must complete before they can apply for admission to the university. In order to graduate for the DP, a student must complete coursework in six key areas, including several written tests, self-directed in-depth essays, 150 hours of community service and involvement, and other class work relevant.

Discover the best IB schools in Thailand HERE.

Which school program is right for your child?

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Choosing the right program is a crucial decision. As a parent, you need to consider how your child learns best. It’s also a good idea to base your decision on the course of study your child did before moving to Thailand, whether you plan to return to your home country or later, and where they might end up studying. at University. Remember that consistency is key and these considerations allow your child to experience a smooth transfer.

If you and your children already have key aspirations for a chosen college or career path, consider those as well before making a decision. Finally, it is recommended to consult the advisers of the international schools for useful information and advice. After all, they are the experts.