Thailand, otherwise known as the “Land of Smiles,” lures tourists and expatriates to its idyllic tropical beaches and welcoming communities every year. One city in particular — Phuket— lights the smiles on the faces of parents and students the most.
Phuket sits at the edge of paradise. You only need to spend a day at “Kata Beach” or “Surin Beach” to understand this statement fully. With every jade-hued wave you dive into, you immerse further into the island’s idyllic ocean habitat. Hence why many locals and tourists go swimming with the whale sharks or plan a trip to the world-famous dive site of Richelieu Rock.
For family activities, you’re spoilt for choice. Art lovers can head to the Phuket Art Village and Kampon Art Gallery in Phuket Town. For animal lovers, the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project beckon. The island also boasts a large international airport, with direct flights to many destinations. Phuket’s strategic location and exemplary travel links means it has become a convenient Thai gateway for many families seeking a peaceful life with the benefit of global mobility.
Phuket’s exceptional ecosystem is the inspiring backdrop for students at the British International School Phuket (BISP). With so much to explore, BISP students have the chance to grow into compassionate, environmentally-conscious changemakers.
BISP Headmaster Simon Meredith said, “BISP’s location on a beautiful tropical island, with world class facilities, is a considerable advantage for our community. The international population of students, parents and teachers at the school creates a dynamic learning environment that enables students to attend universities around the world after graduation.”
The school’s performance in international examinations is testament to the success of BISP’s balanced emphasis on academics, wellbeing and passion — which is no doubt facilitated by its enviable location. In IGCSE and IBDP exams, BISP results are well above the world standard.
Welcome to a transformational, tropical learning experience
BISP makes full use of its sunny climate. “We are incredibly lucky to have so much space. On-campus we have some incredible facilities including a golf centre, tennis courts, two pools, and 12 football pitches!” said BISP activities coordinator David Berman.
Another unique asset that the BISP activities coordinator points out is the on-site trapeze and aerial arts activities, run by a team of local professionals. “Plus, since we are in Phuket, there’s the option to wakeboard, to rock climb and to surf, all of which you can do year-round. Not only can you do those out in nature but also we have different companies who have set up those attractions for tourists,” he said.
Every year, BISP students get to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award. This award varies from the “Bronze” in Year 10, the “Silver” in Year 11 and the “Gold” in Year 12 to 13.
The Bronze programme involves a kayaking adventure. Students form a group, kayak to a local island, set up camp and then kayak back the next day. The Silver programme goes on a dinghy sailing journey. With two-man sailboats, daring pupils sail to local islands and make camp.
The Gold programme is a keelboat sailing trip. “This incredible trip is a highlight for many students who are out in Phang Nga bay seeing some of the world’s most beautiful islands while learning a skill not easily accessible to many people,” said Berman.
Ultimately, the Duke of Edinburgh International award programme at BISP helps children to become resilient leaders and confident self-starters. Berman said, “Along with their adventurous journeys the students are required to take part in ‘Physical Recreation, Skill and Service’. All of these components prepare the students for the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) requirements of IB curriculum.”
At BISP, you’ll find students who truly care about the future
For BISP faculty members like Berman, empathy and resilience are two of the most important characteristics a student can develop. That’s why all of the BISP school trips focus on resilience, and why Primary School teachers introduce “service work” to young pupils through the Make a Difference (MAD) programme. “By introducing ‘service learning’ early, our students really have a bond and connect to the kids they are interacting with who have come from extremely different backgrounds,” said Berman.
There are numerous spots to give back to the community on the island, from local dog shelters to orphanages to beach cleanups. Students even get to take their community work overseas.
Berman said, “In the past year we had a group of students help support an orphanage in Nepal and we regularly take students to a school in Cambodia.”
Upon reflection, the BISP activities coordinator said that the first group of students who supported the English school in Cambodia was an “incredible group”. With just a student-run talent show, they raised enough money to build a new classroom in Cambodia and then flew over to the school to play with the kids.
Another meaningful project that Berman has witnessed during his time at BISP is the “Happy Green World” initiative. The educational programme on waste pollution comprises an informative kids book, a detailed teacher’s guide and an interactive board game. “Over two years, a select group of students translated the programme into Thai and now it is running in 26 local schools with the support of the Thai Tourism Authority to expand with more sponsorship,” he said.
When the coronavirus crisis struck Thailand, BISP ensured students were happy, safe and undisrupted in their studies. Head of Art and Design at BISP Charlotte McGuigan, who is also a parent of children at the school, said, “I felt the school community really cared and came together during this difficult time.”
She added, “We were always sent regular communication updates during lockdown and when returning to campus I had no hesitation in sending my children to the wonderful summer sessions provided by the school. With new technology, thermal scanners and clear physical distancing signs the school is very much on top of new protocols and is a safety-conscious environment.”
A curriculum connected to communities, activities attuned to the aspirations of young minds and the distinct perks of a tropical location — the British International School Phuket (BISP) is quite simply an education like no other.