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Blending British educational values with the vibrancy of Bangkok

Established in 1957, Bangkok Patana School is Thailand’s first British international school. As one of Southeast Asia's most respected educational establishments, it offers the Foundation Stage right through to Senior Studies for over 2,200 students — many of whom are thriving around the world. Two features of their Bangkok Patana School education are instrumental to their success: a British-based, international curriculum and Bangkok’s bustling benefits. 

Carla’s father, Damien, was the reason the family moved to Bangkok. It is because of his work as a diplomat that they have lived (and Carla has attended school) in England, Jordan, Australia and now Thailand. The move to Bangkok was welcomed, especially by the young teenager. Half Arabic and half British, Carla was often bullied and excluded in previous schools she attended.

Having experienced four schools in vastly different countries, the family is well qualified to say what works best for international students. “Just the level of support they give parents is really good, probably the best of any school, to be honest,” says Damien. “They constantly follow up with what they say they're going to do.”

“Living in those four countries, I've realised that Bangkok Patana is one of the most diverse schools I've been to so far,” she says. “It's amazing what you can learn from so many people, and it's a really eye-opening experience.”
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Student Carla Burnett and her family were no strangers to Bangkok. While they often visited for a holiday, this was their first time living there. “Within the first week, I felt really accepted by the staff as well as the students,” she says. “I felt as if I was in a community now, it was really welcoming. I made friends within the first day, and I still have those friends until this day.”

Carla’s parents were awed at the seamless transition into this school for the whole family. There were numerous morning sessions organised for parents to get to know each other, from yoga and tennis to Thai classes. Burnett’s mother, Sahar, was blown away by the supportive teachers and community. The school regularly holds “curriculum” mornings and workshops for parents to understand the learning taking place in classrooms. “I have never experienced anything like this,” she says. “We did not feel lonely. Carla was amazing from the first day, and her first play date was literally three days after our arrival.”

A good first impression

Bangkok Patana School is an easy drive on the eastern side of the city. Although Carla and her family live in the centre of Bangkok,  the convenient bus service ensures she arrives on time. “With just six students on a bus, it doesn't take a long time,” says Sahar. “On the bus, there is a carer who makes sure that the belts are on. I feel very safe.” 

The modern campus, which spans over 50 acres, benefits from its verdant surroundings. “Of all the schools in Thailand, I think they've got the best facilities by country,” says Damien. “The campus is incredible, and they couldn't possibly do that in the centre of the city if they were located there. They have ponds, fish, and even an Olympic swimming pool. It's incredible.” 

The school’s location also makes it optimal for fun and meaningful excursions. Carla recalls that as part of her IGCSE in fine art, she has made three trips around Bangkok to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), River City (a centre for art and antiques) and Warehouse 30, a community art space. “Out of all three, my favourite was definitely River City as the teachers made it really interactive, and in between it, we actually went on a street walk where we could see all of the street art and paintings,” she says. “It was a great experience, as we even got to sketch. It was very engaging and collaborative between teachers and students.” 

Perhaps the key highlight of schooling in Bangkok has been the rich diversity of the students and community. Being exposed to such a melting pot of culture lets children take on new perspectives and be sensitive and respectful of each other. “I've lived abroad in many places, and you tend to stick with the expats until you make friends. In Thailand, it's the opposite,” says Damien. “She's had that exposure to the local culture as much as the expat culture.”

Southeast Asia’s glorious, cosmopolitan megalopolis

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From children to future leaders

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Students at Bangkok Patana School are exposed to many different cultures, and the school finds ways to celebrate everyone. For instance, they host an international food day where over 60 countries are represented by the delicious cuisine made by students and their families. Sahar describes this event to be lively and a lot of fun for the whole family. 

To ensure students are prepared to take on the challenges of tomorrow, there are numerous extracurriculars and leadership roles students can take on. An extrovert and people person by nature, Carla knows she will be a role model someday, so taking on a leadership position was essential for her growth. “There is a really good counselling team on board, and they also have a student leadership role called well-being ambassadors,” she explains. “I am one of them, and the well-being ambassador's aim is to be the student voice for students who are struggling with various problems, which could be with community, friend problems, mental health or LGBTQ+.”

These experiences are essential for Carla as they are a stepping stone to realising her aspirations to fight for vulnerable communities and individuals.

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Carla wants to study law and political science, a decision for which she has received a lot of guidance from the counselling teams and careers counsellors. They have directed her through the challenges she may face and to understand how to balance work and life. 

Carla’s parents are proud to see how far their daughter has come. The confident, budding young woman has conquered difficulties but with every passing day at Bangkok Patana School, Carla is one step closer to realising her full potential. “Her confidence, happiness, and mental health are obvious for all to see today. She is really strong and happy, and of course, her education has progressed,” adds Sahar.  

“I'd love to become a human rights lawyer and to make a change,” she says. “I really want to make an impact on the people that I help. I've been passionate about the UN’s work and what they do within the UNHCR, working with refugees.”

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