Every child has the space to thrive holistically at Rugby School Thailand. Bruce Grindlay could see this from his first visit. Facilities at the country’s largest campus — from the Webb Ellis fitness and sports centre, to designated spaces for science, drama and music enthusiasts — could give any school in the UK a run for its money.
With a solid reputation as one of England’s top headmasters, Grindlay would know. What he witnessed made his decision to accept the role of RST principal an obvious one. From August 2021, he will use his experience, passion and strategy to take this leading British boarding school in Asia to the next level.
Rugby School Thailand’s 80-acre campus is nestled in the majestic countryside of Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard near Pattaya, Chonburi. It is many miles away and many centuries younger than its 454-year-old sister school Rugby UK, yet still truly connected to it. RST uses its rich heritage to create the perfect blend of traditional values and a 21st century mindset.
The school ethos is “the whole person, the whole point”. Each pupil strives for excellence, not just academically, but in sport, music, art, drama and co-curricular activities. It’s a strategy which Grindlay believes, in all his years of experience, is the most effective of all; and a rarity in Asia.
“We’ve created a Rugby learner profile that maps the skills today’s working adults need for a successful life,” explains Grindlay. “We map those skills from Pre-Prep level until students are 18. They could learn while swimming, practising music, or during math class — all Rugby schools share this idea.”
The perks of being part of a global network of schools extend beyond a shared vision. English teachers and students often visit RST and students can also spend time in the UK developing key competencies.
Each Rugby School has its own distinctive traits but their principles and outcomes are the same. This means that families based in Asia do not need to send their children 7,000 miles away — a top British boarding school education is on their doorstep.
At RST pupils follow a classic British curriculum. Sixth Formers take A Levels, based on a prescribed curriculum administered by examination boards in England. It is the most popular post-16 qualification in both the UK and international schools across the world and recognised by universities across the globe. The goal at RST, however, goes beyond merely winning a place at university — it is to help pupils specialise and excel in their chosen subjects, with courses structured around learning rather than assessment.
Outside the classroom, they get to explore their broader interests. Whether it be in service, sports, the arts, STEM language, culture, or activities that focus on the skills needed for certain universities or careers — students at RST close their secondary chapter ready for their next.
“The minute you do something you love and engage with it fully, you learn self discipline, commitment, focus and effort,” Grindlay enthuses. “Once you’ve learned those skills, you transfer them into everything you do — making what was once challenging, all the more enjoyable.”
In short, they are discovering their calling and RST offers the space, facilities and education for them to do so. At the state-of-the-art campus — the work of top architects and designers, just 1.5 hours southeast of Bangkok and 20 minutes east of Pattaya — pupils play amid rolling hills, in fresh country air. They study alongside nature, with learning environments including lakes, the Eco Garden and an Outdoor Education Centre. There are even designated tracks for walking and cycling.
Sports enthusiasts can excel in swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, badminton or touch rugby. Art prodigies express themselves through drama, performing arts, and more. Want to make the world a better place? There are programmes for that at RST too, such as “Bye Bye Plastic Bags”, Eco Club, community beach cleans, zero waste initiatives and a charity group called “RST Make A Difference”.
It’s clear why the school received the Beacon School Status award for its extracurricular activities. After all, these offerings truly emphasise the school’s “the whole person, the whole point” ethos. The Beacon School Status is awarded for a standard where the school’s practice is truly exceptional — this makes it an institution that can be approached for advice and guidance in these areas by other Council of British International Schools (COBIS) schools.
Experiencing a campus like this during the week is one thing, but 24/7 immersion is another. It comes as little surprise that RST also achieved Beacon School Status for its boarding facilities — it is the first-ever school to be presented with two Beacon School Status awards at accreditation stage.
RST boarding houses are incredibly well-furnished, comfortable, and homely. After a long day of learning and excitement, there’s no need for an hour-long — or if you’re a Bangkok resident, hours-long — commute back home.
Returning to your RST boarding house is zippy and truly feels like coming home. Behind these walls, students — between the ages of eight and 18 — unwind, recharge, and form the most enriching relationships. Day students benefit from RST’s boarding programme and schedule too; with a longer school day, there’s more time for sports, recreation and study time with tutors.
Grindlay explains that the main benefit of boarding is that while students are home, they are still attached to the school. “Constantly in contact with educators, house parents know where each student’s academic problems are, allowing them to help when it’s time for homework,” he shares. “Since everyone lives on site, anyone struggling can get the extra attention they need — a perk that enhances the learning experience.”