Asia’s top international schools
A well-rounded education prepares students for college, career and life. Source: King's College International School Bangkok

From classrooms to the White House, the ability to evaluate one’s own thinking has always been top priority. Critical thinking goes beyond memorisation and it is more than just about dissenting for the sake of it. It is the ability to reason well by constructing and evaluating various reasons that have been or can be offered for or against candidate beliefs, judgments, and action — and acting according to these reasons. It is an asset for any career and is especially important in the new knowledge economy. 

Look into the academic backgrounds of today’s success stories and many did not come from schools that dictated a single-minded focus on grades and core academic subjects alone. Many built a solid foundation from a vibrant, well-rounded education that teaches them to be critical thinkers, skilled artists and big hearts. From a young age, they forge a character that primes them for not just life’s greatest opportunities, but also personal happiness and a graceful role in society. Here are four international schools in Asia that do just that:

King’s College International School Bangkok

Asia’s top international schools

King’s College International School Bangkok’s students achieve academic excellence and pursue their passions through the co-curricular programme. Source: King’s College International School Bangkok

Located in the heart of Bangkok, with robust links to the top-ranked King’s College School Wimbledon, King’s College International School Bangkok is where students are helped to grow with great hearts and great minds.

King’s Bangkok develops the whole child. Here, pupils achieve academic excellence and pursue their passions through the co-curricular programme. From day one until graduation, inside and outside the classroom, they are cared for in every way.

Situated in the prestigious Ratchada-Rama 3 area of Bangkok — with easy access to the financial district and the city centre — King’s Bangkok provides a learning experience like no other to students aged two to 18. From its Early Years to its Primary School and Senior School, learning here is exciting, inspiring and sparks creativity.

Teachers are the heart of the school. They are interviewed by King’s Wimbledon, ensuring the standard of teachers is the same as one of the world’s most academically successful schools. In fact, quite a few of them previously taught at King’s Wimbledon. All of the staff role model the values that King’s Bangkok holds dearly: good manners, kindness and wisdom. They ensure girls and boys from King’s Bangkok are recognised not only for their many talents, but above all, for their courtesy and humanity.

The collaboration with King’s Wimbledon runs deeper still. Curriculum, systems and quality audits mirror King’s Wimbledon. These are the standards that have led to such success in the UK. In 2020, 98.7% of all GCSE/iGCSEs were A*-A (or 9-7) and 99% of all A levels were A*/A/B. Each year, around 25% of the student body goes on to Oxford or Cambridge, and more than 90% attend their first-choice university.

A unique mix of clubs, societies, and co-curricular activities enriches the King’s Bangkok experience further. All active, creative and service (social responsibilities) pursuits are encouraged; summer camps, student exchange programmes, and house events ensure that students always have something to be excited to come to school for. Applications are now welcome for boys and girls aged two to 15 (Pre-nursery to Year 10) for the academic year 2021. Years 11–13 will open in the subsequent academic years. Register your interest here.

Singapore American School

Asia’s top international schools

Students learn through extra-curricular activities that include everything from sports, music, and dance to social and environmental outreach. Source: Singapore American School

Established in 1956, Singapore American School (SAS) is one of the world’s largest, most diverse, and academically innovative international schools. Here, students brainstorm, research, interview, plan activities, build connections, and contribute to communities’ areas of need.

SAS students have all kinds of opportunities for excellence and growth from custom advanced topic courses to college-preparatory programmes and semesters abroad. The school offers 25 Advance Advanced Placement (AP) courses and the AP Capstone Diploma programme. SAS provides experiential learning activities outside the classroom too — like field trips and community service — with the help of proactive, child-centred counsellors.

That’s not all. SAS students learn through extra-curricular activities that include everything from sports, music, and dance to social and environmental outreach. “The emphasis at SAS is both on academic and extracurricular activities, at a pace that is tailored for the students, within a culture that promotes possibilities,” says SAS parent Ritu Kapoor. 

“We have wonderful opportunities to learn here at SAS, to model the learning values that we aspire to as a community: our desired student learning outcomes or DSLOs,” shares superintendent Tom Boasberg. “Those DSLOs start with character (our five core values) and they include creativity and critical thinking — how can we make the world a better place?  They also include collaboration and communication—how do we work together? Next is content knowledge—what do we need to know?  And last but not least is cultural competence — a sense of global connectedness and understanding that what we do in one place has an impact on places throughout the world.”

Dulwich College Beijing

Asia’s top international schools

DCB’s academic programme is focused on what matters most in learning — relevance, enduring understanding, and multidisciplinary connection. Source: Dulwich College Beijing

At Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), education goes beyond books, bricks and mortar — it builds a bridge to the world. This is where values of resilience, confidence, respect, integrity, responsibility, open-mindedness and kindness are instilled in children from ages three to 18. 

DCB’s primary teaching language is English, with a dual-language approach in Mandarin and English in Early Years.

DCB is a member school of the Dulwich College International family, drawing upon over 400 years of tradition and experience from its founding college in London. Across 10 Dulwich College International schools, educators are guided by a mission of driving effective and innovative pedagogy at each age and stage of a student’s learning journey.

The “Dulwich difference” lies in the philosophy of putting students first. The school’s academic programme is focused on what matters most in learning — relevance, enduring understanding, and multidisciplinary connection. From Early Years to IGCSE and IB programmes, the faculty develops advanced course offerings that challenge students to think deeply and fuel students’ love of learning. 

A key part of the Dulwich learning experience includes clubs and activities organised around music, theatre and film. Students benefit from the dedicated art room, green screen film studio  and large music rooms. 

“Our rigorous academic curriculum is complemented by a balanced programme that includes a range of opportunities for students to excel. Alongside academic excellence, students show passion through artistic pursuits, in the sporting arena and make a difference to others through ongoing service-learning projects,” says Anthony Coles, Head of College. “We want our students to have the skills and motivation to make a difference in the world, and character and values are integral to how we educate them.”

Marlborough College Malaysia

Asia’s top international schools

Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) is guided by principles of compassion, companionship and conversation. Source: Marlborough College Malaysia

Set on a safe and spacious 90-acre estate, Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) is guided by principles of compassion, companionship and conversation. Here, students join the faculty in pursuing questions, not simply answers; in discovering ideas, not merely facts; and in appreciating the journey, not solely the destination.

Highly rigorous academics, a caring community, qualified teachers, student-focused learning, and college-preparatory courses — these are the features that ensure student success at MCM. Academic programmes here offer students myriad opportunities and challenges in a supportive environment. The school’s IGCSEs and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme opens the doors to many of the world’s finest universities.

What sets the college apart is its range of co-curricular opportunities. From sport to music and art, each and all provide challenge and comfort as a critical part of a meaningful holistic education. They develop pupil’s understanding of global issues and their responsibilities as global citizens. “The provision of co-curricular activities is a real strength of the college,” according to COBIS Report 2021.

“With our shared DNA and close links with Marlborough UK, we value and instil breadth of experience, intellectual rigour, creative joy and sporting excellence,” says Alan Stevens

Master of Marlborough College Malaysia. MCM students engage with a broad range of activities outside the classroom — from sports, music and art to drama, activities, outreach and educational trips.  

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