First off, is the school set in a safe and secure environment? What will their daily travel time be? Are the roads and the transport system safe? If it’s a boarding school overseas, how easy is it to fly into that country? What about the climate? Is the country subject to weather or pollution which could impact your child’s health? Brunei is a beautiful, safe and secure environment, recently ranked fourth in the world for its enviable air quality. It’s a wonderful location where students can study away from the hazards and distractions of city life, but remains just a short direct flight from the world’s major tourist hubs.
One thing you may not have considered is the diversity of the school’s student body. As a parent, it’s important for you to question balance of different nationalities and cultures at the school, to ensure your child has access to invaluable global perspectives. JIS teaches students from 55 different countries, and only 35 percent of the school’s total student population are native to Brunei.
What organisation has accredited the School and what does this recognition mean? There are many internationally-recognised accreditation bodies, and the world’s best schools will have undergone rigorous scrutiny to be awarded by these professional corporations.
As an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, JIS is one of only 54 international schools worldwide to be invited to join the prestigious UK based Headmaster and Headmistress Conference (HMC). It’s also one of 120 schools to be accredited by British Schools Overseas, and stands as a respected member of the global Council of British International Schools (COBIS), as well as a leading participant in the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA). Similar organisations and networks exist around the world, allowing schools a wealth of opportunities in sport, music, drama, and a heap of other activities.
So, what is the school’s chosen curriculum? Most English-speaking international schools will follow either a British or American curriculum. Which is preferable is a matter of personal choice, but for students aged 14 and above, could have a bearing on final university destinations.
As a British international school, JIS also offers the two-year International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) for 14-16-year-old students. The exam boards are Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), Edexcel and AQA Boards. It also presents a dual pathway for pre-university students age 16-18 years, where they can choose to follow either the British Advanced Level (A Level) programme or the IB Diploma programme.
Is your child unique? Would they benefit from small class sizes and individualised learning? As a parent, you’re bound to understand the needs of your child far better than anyone else, and therefore possess all the tools to make an informed decision. Does the school offer, for example, a strong Science curriculum? Are there opportunities for the Performing Arts? Are a range of languages available? Are the sports facilities extensive? The answer to all these questions at JIS is undeniably ‘YES’!
What are the school’s exam results and what are the destinations of its recent graduates? Have they gained entry to top universities?
As a HMC School, JIS publishes its IGCSE, A Level and IB examination results each year. They are on the school website and easily available for anyone to access. Barnaby Sandow, Principal of JIS, says
“Student attainment at IGCSE, IB Diploma and A-Level is fantastic, consistently outstripping the world IGCSE, IB and average UK A-level scores by some distance. Recent graduates have continued their studies at Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College in England and in the USA – UC Berkeley and Stanford, to name but a few.”
What’s the history of the teaching staff? What are their qualifications? What’s the average staff turnover?
JIS has about 180 qualified teaching staff, primarily from the UK, but also language teachers who are native speakers. Many teachers have been at JIS for longer than a decade! Not only are teachers graduates from well-established universities, but many have Masters qualifications and also PhDs.
How large are classes? Are class sizes capped? What is the staff to student ratio? The answers to these questions will impact the quality of education being offered to your child. At JIS, classes are no larger than 22, from eight years and above. Under eight years, the classes are smaller with a high staff to student ratio. Pre-university examination classes (IB Diploma and A Level) contain no more than 15 students, allowing for an inclusive and personalised learning experience.
What co-curricular programmes are on offer? Can you see evidence of this? Are there established programmes, like the International Award, or the Model United Nations, open to students? At JIS, more than 300 activities are available across all levels of the school. Students can sign up via an online booking system so parents and children can review and discuss all the available options.
Ultimately, how do we measure the excellence of a school? JIS Principal, Barnaby Sandow believes it can be summarised by the following three areas “firstly well rounded, superb students, secondly, well qualified, passionate and dedicated teachers and finally, outstanding, world class facilities.” Nestled on a coastal campus just 5-minutes from the South China Sea, right next to pristine rainforest, the 300-acre campus occupied by JIS is both outstanding and world class.