Empowering changemakers of tomorrow
American School in Japan

The next generation of leaders has their work cut out for them. In a rapidly evolving world where change is the only constant, a few international schools are stepping up to the challenge of transforming children into tomorrow’s changemakers. These education powerhouses have taken on a pivotal role in shaping our world’s future leaders, innovators, and visionaries.

Their graduates are prepared for a world without borders too. By offering a global curriculum, diverse faculty, and a multicultural environment, the best international schools today equip young minds with the skills and perspectives needed to thrive in an increasingly connected world. As these schools also encourage students to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve complex problems, they ensure their students are just as well-prepared to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

Below are four top-tier international schools that empower students and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow:

ASIJ fifth graders harvest the rice they have grown in the on-campus paddy field in a project that brings together culture, science and social studies. Source: American School in Japan

The American School in Japan

The American School in Japan (ASIJ) has a rich, century-long legacy with a clear mission that guides its present: fostering a community of inquisitive learners and independent thinkers, inspired to be their best selves, empowered to make a difference. For over 120 years, Tokyo’s leading international school has done just that with its American-style college preparatory education for students from nursery through high school.

What makes ASIJ stand out is its Deep Learning approach to education, which is teacher directed and student led. Their focus is on developing the competencies students will need for a rapidly changing future and providing hands-on, authentic learning experiences through a diverse range of partnerships.

At the Early Learning Centre (ELC) level, deep learning comes to life through play. Design thinking — a mindset that promotes empathy, perspective-taking and an inquiry approach — gets young children considering how to create a restaurant for their parents, transform their loft into a spaceship or treehouse, build a model of Tokyo Tower, or put on a play. The Project Approach puts them in guided phases of collaboration and sharing, where they start, develop and conclude the project.

In Elementary School, teachers use inquiry as a way to excite and engage students so they want to find out more, ask questions and pursue problems. Students learn how to learn, developing metacognitive skills in the process of becoming self-reflective learners. In the classroom and beyond, authentic, transdisciplinary and real-world issues and challenges get students to develop novel ideas and embrace failure as part of the process.

At every step of their ASIJ journey, students are developing the specific transdisciplinary global competencies needed to survive and thrive in a complex world. These include Mindset, Communication, Global Citizenship, Creativity, Collaboration and Critical Thinking, as outlined in its Portrait of a Learner. To learn more about how ASIJ teachers and students know, value and care, click here.

Tanglin Trust School’s campus is home to 2,800 students representing over 50 nationalities. Source: Tanglin Trust School

Tanglin Trust School

In 2023, Tanglin Trust School was named International School of the Year 2023 by ISC Research, which supplies the most comprehensive, current and objective data and intelligence on the world’s international schools. The coveted title came with the Ethical Values Education Award for embedding the rights of children into the school’s ethos and culture as part of UNICEF’s Rights Respecting Schools accreditation and a nomination in the Strategic Leadership Category.

In a recent single inspection process by the UK Ofsted British Schools Overseas, Tanglin was awarded the highest possible grade: “outstanding.” This was the first time Tanglin had undertaken the process as one school, having previously been inspected as individual infant, junior and senior units. The rating demonstrates that the inspectors recognised the skill, care and quality of staff, and the coherence and communication between the key stages of a Tanglin education.

Such “high standards” are due to several distinctive offerings at Tanglin. It provides the English National Curriculum with an international perspective to children from 3 to 18 years, and is the only school in Singapore to offer students the choice of studying the IBDP or A-Levels. The campus is home to 2,800 students representing over 50 nationalities. From Nursery right through to Sixth Form, children have a unique learning environment that prepares them for university and beyond with confidence. Although grades aren’t the singular focus here, Tanglin students regularly do better than their peers in Singapore and globally. In 2023, the school achieved a 100% pass rate for A Levels and 100% successful achievement of the IB Diploma. Around 97% of graduates typically get into their first or second choice university, which is amongst the best in the world. To learn more about this award-winning international school, click here.

At Beijing City International School students enjoy a personalised method of learning. Source: Beijing City International School

Beijing City International School

Beijing City International School inspires greatness within and outside its walls. The not-for-profit day school offers a comprehensive education for students of all ages, from their toddler years up until 12th grade. Its goal? To educate students who are not only academically gifted but who grow into compassionate people who act for the good of their communities and the world around them.

Students of all nationalities are admitted here, making for a community that celebrates and champions cultural diversity. Together, they represent 28 different nationalities. Despite this, the student community remains tight-knit; they enjoy a one-to-seven teacher-to-student ratio, fostering deeper bonds between faculty and students.

Academics is designed to generate success. Here, students enjoy a personalised method of learning — a result of the institution’s status as an International Baccalaureate World School. Curricula are constantly reassessed according to a student’s individual readiness, interests and learning styles. This ensures that by the time they get to their IBDP, they’re prepared to tackle the challenge with grit and determination.

“Whilst outstanding facilities and being an IB World School are important, we know that students learn best when teachers care,” says Head of School Tom Egerton. “What distinguishes BCIS is the quality of the teaching staff who are intentional in helping each student reach their full potential in caring and supportive environments.”

Around 80 co-curricular activities are on offer for students to pursue their interests, from golf to chess at Epsom College Malaysia.  Source: Epsom College Malaysia

Epsom College Malaysia

Tucked into the lush greenery of Seremban, Malaysia, is a British independent school that’s attracting some of the region’s best and brightest. It’s called Epsom College Malaysia. Here, children between the ages of 11 and 18 are educated on a 50-acre campus that is designed to foster their growth as students and individuals.

Informed by its parent school — the academically excellent Epsom College, UK — Epsom College Malaysia has developed a future-proof curriculum with over 200 years of British tradition behind it.

Students are rigorously prepared for their A Level examinations from day one. It’s a strategy that works. In 2022, 63% of all Year 13 students achieved an A* or A for their A Levels — placing them among the top scorers for one of the world’s most challenging examinations.

Life at Epsom is not all academics, however. Over 80 co-curricular activities are on offer for students to pursue their interests, from golf to chess. Throw in various sports clubs, service community and leadership opportunities and countless creative and expressive arts programmes, and it makes for a truly well-rounded community of students who grow together as much as they do as individuals.

“It is this engagement beyond the curriculum that enables our learners to make successful applications to some of the top universities globally, including Ivy League colleges, universities such as Cambridge and Imperial in the UK, UBC and UT in Canada, the University of Tokyo and many more,” says Headmaster Matthew Brown.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International