Top international schools in Asia that ensure students’ holistic development
Source: Dover Court International School

Spurred by demand, private and international schools are booming on just about every corner of the globe. Many parents see such schools as a gateway to a successful future for their children, both in university and beyond. International schools are known for developing global citizens, providing quality education and, in some instances, act as a springboard for entry into prestigious universities.

Despite the thriving private education sector, each school comes with its own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Today’s globalised economy means the youth must be equipped with a wide range of soft and hard skills to excel in the 21st century. Academic prowess is no longer enough for students to gain entryto top universities and succeed in the digital economy. Young children are constantly soaking up their environment, making it essential for parents to understand how a school benefits the unique needs of their child, in addition to promoting their well-being and overall development.

Southeast Asia is home to numerous international schools that are giving their rivals in the West a run for their money. Many offer a rich, English curriculum, in addition to state-of-the-art learning environments and numerous extracurricular activities to ensure students’ overall development.

If your interest is piqued, here are four international schools within the region that have carved themselves stellar reputations as holistic international schools:


If you’re looking for a school that focuses on the holistic development of your child, DCIS is certainly a strong contender. This non-selective school helps its diverse student body fulfil its potential through a small, inclusive environment supported by an inspiring team of dedicated staff.

Since its inception in 1972, DCIS has carved itself a reputation as one of the leading British international schools in Southeast Asia. The school adopts the English National Curriculum, used by over 30,000 schools worldwide and known for its reliable assessment system.

The school also offers the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP), a full-time two-year programme for Sixth Form students. Despite its intimate learning environment, DCIS is part of the Nord Anglia Education family of schools worldwide, with the majority offering the IBDP.

Source: Dover Court International School

The 2019 IBDP average score here is 33 points, 10 percent higher than the global average of 30 points. Furthermore, 10 percent of these students achieved over 40 points, or the level of attainment required to gain admission to the world’s elite universities. As a testament to their academic prowess, DCIS’s first cohort of IBDP students achieved an average of 32 points, with one of its students achieving more than 40 points.

With over 60 nationalities present on campus, DCIS is a bastion for cultural diversity. Students stand to graduate as global citizens, which contributes to their exceptional achievement in all areas of the curriculum.


Phuket may be famous as an idyllic beach setting, but nestled in the northern part of the island is UWCT. Ideally located away from the city centre, it’s the only international school south of Bangkok that’s fully authorised to offer all three IB programmes. UWTC is also a Council of International Schools (CIS)-accredited school, while the English-language day and boarding school is home to 470 learners ranging from two to 18 years.

The campus features dedicated buildings for Early Childhood Education, Primary School, Middle/High School as well as High School students. The campus has a gymnasium, an outdoor futsal pitch and a basketball court, a multi-purpose hall, cafeteria, drama room, music rooms, health centre, library, student-run cafe, uniform shop, as well as a Mindfulness Centre to ensure students develop holistically.

Source: Shutterstock

UWTC is unique as it balances academics with wellness education by embedding social-emotional learning and mindfulness (SEL&M) into classes. Mindfulness ensures the inner well-being of students, helping them react more intentionally to their surroundings, in addition to supporting students in developing self-compassion and compassion for others.

The school also embraces the breadth of the IB curriculum to ensure students are exposed to varied subjects, including language, natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, service, physical and outdoor education and the arts. They are taught by world-class teachers and form part of an exceptional learning community.


Tucked away in Shanghai, a global financial hub, this IB World School opened its doors in 2006 with just 17 students from Nursery to Grade 2. Today, the school has grown leaps and bounds, boasting over 800 students comprising of over 50 nationalities, and speaking nearly 40 languages.

WISS has flourished to become a leading international school in Shanghai and the first and only full continuum World IB School in Mainland China offering four IB programmes: the Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), the Middle Years Programme (IBMYP), the IBDP and the Career-related Programme (IBCP).

Students learn in an intimate environment to ensure excellent academic outcomes. The small student-teacher ratio lets students enjoy a personalised and flexible learning experience, while the school emphasises student-centered learning, both in and outside of the classroom. Students can also choose from a wide variety of creative arts courses and athletic offerings for a balanced curriculum.

Source: Western International School of Shanghai

WISS’ academics place a strong focus on student-centered learning, combining academic rigor with a focus on the creative arts through visual arts, music and performing arts programmes. Students also have the chance to explore a diverse selection of activities and athletics to enhance their learning experience, such as swimming, football, and even music, to name a few, in top-notch sporting facilities.

Their modern campus, nestled in an 18-acre site, also boasts of large outdoor playground areas and bright, spacious classrooms equipped with ceiling air purification units.


At over 100 years old, SFS ranks in the top 10 oldest international schools globally. This Christian school is located in Seoul and boasts of a world-class campus and exceptional facilities, including a new state-of-the-art senior high school. The campus is nestled on 25 acres of hilltop and forest, allowing students to learn in an environment away from the concrete jungle. There are modern spaces for the arts, music, physical education, sports, drama, climbing and engineering to fit the needs of the modern student.

Source: Seoul Foreign School

One of its unique features includes its close-knit multicultural community. Despite that, SFS is not affiliated with a particular denomination nor with a particular church and does not have weekly chapels. The school welcomes students from all religious backgrounds.

It offers two complementary educational paths for students between the ages of two to 18 to choose from: the IB Continuum of Programmes or the English National Curriculum. SFS is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a member of the CIS and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). The British School was inspected and approved by Ofsted British Schools Overseas (BSO).

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

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

4 international schools that nurture innovative thinking in students

International schools that prepare students for the globalised economy