Best of Both Worlds
Decisions decisions…one of the hardest, amongst so many, decisions a parent has to make is in choosing the right school for their child. Does the school have a good reputation? Is it academically rigorous? Are the students well rounded and socialised? Is the faculty and are the facilities up to par? Does it have excellent extracurricular activities? Are the children in a safe environment? Will they have a good future upon graduation?
Varee Patravanich, Director and owner of Varee International School is confident that she has achieved a yes to all the above question, and then some.
Three thousand coed students attend Varee, a sprawling and extremely modern school whose buildings and facilities sit on 60 rai of land just off Mahidol Road. From kindergarten to year 13, the school offers a full Thai curriculum in its Thai school, an English programme for those interested in studying the Thai curriculum but in the English language, and as of a few years ago, a fully accredited British curriculum international school for years 7-13.
“Our school’s motto has always been the best of both worlds,” Director Varee told Citylife. “Our students studying the Thai syllabus benefit from mingling with international students and benefit from international standards of the school while our international students feel rooted in Thai culture as they are surrounded by Thai students.”
“Our international school graduates can now go to universities anywhere in the world,” said Varee, whose recent graduating class will be studying in some of Thailand’s, China’s, Australia’s, United States’ and the UK’s best universities. “Our AS level grades are above the national average and improving year on year,” she continued. “This success has inspired me to extend our international school and soon we will be accepting students from kindergarten onwards. This is so that students can have a seamless education throughout their formative years. I had intended to invest 40-50 million baht into this international school, but we have already exceeded 110! In order to gain full accreditation we have to have the best, not just with faculty, but with facilities.”
Varee International School has gained its Education Development Trust (EDT) British accreditation as well as the ISQM quality mark, a process which covered every aspect of the school from canteen standards to hygiene, security to health and safety. While this accreditation applies to the international programme only, students in the entire school also benefit from them. Director Varee explained that all the teaching medium for the international programme comes from the UK – no detail from the heights of chairs per grade, to d้cor, is too little. Everything is aimed and targeted towards an environment to facilitate learning. It is imperative that her students develop critical thinking, hand-eye coordination, and the all-important skills to further their own education and learning process.
“Around 50% of our international school kids are Thai,” she continued, “So it is very important and beneficial for them to be imbedded into a Thai school and learn Thai culture and speak Thai language as well.”
With only 20 rai of land so far developed, encompassing numerous school buildings, playgrounds and sporting facilities including footsall, football, basketball and tennis courts, as well as a swimming pool, the school is about to build a large gym complex so that it can offer even more sports to all of its students.
“We want to offer different options,” Varee explained. “Many parents now understand that kids need more than a traditional Thai syllabus, the English Programme is good for languages, and the way of thinking and skills are enhanced even further in the international programme. Parents can have more choices depending on their means as well as their expectations.
“For me, the big thing for us was when we were accredited with the UK’s EDT,” said International principal, Andri Nel-Rasmussen who has worked in the school for the past four years. “Many schools offer ICGSE, but to be accredited as EDT means that we have reached international standards. We will continue to improve and gain further accreditation as this is very important for both parents and teachers in choosing schools.”
“We have a very nice mix of students,” said South Afrian Nel-Rasmussen, “about 30% are Thai kids, 30% are half Thai kids and the rest are from all over the world. The mix of culture benefits everyone. Sometimes you go to an international school in Thailand and you forget what country you are in. Here, it is important that they learn the culture in which they live. It is the culture and or small community which is our biggest draw.”
“What I love about working with Director Varee is that she has real passion for education,” concluded Nel-Rasmussen. “Everything she does is in support of the development of our students.”