An overview of international school curricula in Thailand

Thanks to a burgeoning multinational expat community in Thailand, parents are now spoilt for choice when it comes to the type of educational institution they want to send their children to.

For foreign nationals who are only staying for a short period in the country, they can send their children to international schools that follow the curriculum used in their native land. For the most part, international schools maintain the academic curricula of their home countries, which ensures minimal disruption to children when they resume their education back home.

International schools are also excellent choices for expats and Thais who wish to prepare their children for rewarding careers or advanced studies at world-class universities.

Common basic education curriculum components in international schools

Thai-centric curriculum

Since international schools in Thailand are required to be open to Thai enrollees, these schools must adhere to the laws governing the education of Thai nationals. That is, Thai children must be taught Thai language and Thai culture, therefore all international schools must provide these for them.

On the other hand, parents of children who hold non-Thai passports may choose to have their children undergo either the regular Thai language programme or a non-Thai language programme. The latter is for a second language that’s offered by the school.

English program curriculum in Thailand

You can expect English to be taught as the primary language in American and British international schools, and as a second language in non-American and non-British ones.

‘The government has long realised the importance of the English language as a major core subject in schools, and it has been a compulsory subject at varying levels for several decades. Since 2005 schools are being encouraged to establish bilingual departments where the core subjects are taught in English and to offer intensive English language programmes.’ — English Language Education in Thailand

International school curriculum in Thailand

With regard to what and how they teach their students, international schools enjoy autonomy in Thailand; however, like all private schools, they are also regulated by the Office of the Private Education Commission.

In addition to being accredited by the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assurance (ONESQA) and the Council of International Schools (CIS), top-tier institutions are accredited by international organisations. For instance, most top British schools in Thailand are accredited by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS).

Here are two of the most popular international school curriculums in Thailand:

American curriculum

While there is no one comprehensive standard of education in the United States (i.e., each state has its own standard), the US government has implemented the US Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Math. Additionally, American basic education follows this schedule:

Child’s age Education stage
5 or below Preschool or kindergarten*
6–11 or 7–12 Elementary (first to sixth grade)
12–13 or 13–14 Middle or junior high (seventh to eighth grade)
14–17 or 15–18 Senior high (ninth to twelfth grade)
*In Thailand, preschool or kindergarten is not compulsory.

American international schools in Thailand follow the same schedule above, but have higher standards than their local public counterparts and are accredited by one of four organisations:

  • Cognia
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

This is to ensure that the high school diplomas from these schools are recognised by American colleges and universities, and that diploma holders who pass college admissions tests such as the SAT or ACT have greater chances of being admitted into those institutions.

British curriculum

Public schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland implement the National Curriculum. British private schools, on the other hand, have the autonomy to set their own curriculums.

Most British international schools in Thailand follow the National Curriculum framework, which culminates in students taking the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and then Advanced Level or A Level subjects.

Subject Key Stage 1 (age 5–7**) Key Stage 2 (age 7–11) Key Stage 3 (age 11–14) Key Stage 4 (age 14–16)
Art & Design ✝️
Design & Technology ✝️
Geography ✝️
History ✝️
Music ✝️
Modern Foreign Languages ✝️
Welsh (Wales only)
Physical Education
Religious Education***
Sex and Relationships Education****
Work-Related Learning
✅ - Compulsory
✝️ - School must offer at least one subject in this area
**Age refers to how old the child is on August 31.
***Schools must teach this, but parents can withdraw their children from part or all of the lessons.
****Schools must teach this, but parents can withdraw their children from part or all of the lessons that are not part of the national curriculum for science.

Other international schools follow a different framework and have their students take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) instead.

Key Stage 5 or Sixth Form Education

To prepare students for their chosen course at university, most if not all British international schools in Thailand also offer Key Stage 5 Education, which is also known as Sixth Form Education. This takes two years to complete, during which time the students earn their Advanced Level or A Level qualifications. 

A Levels are subject-based qualifications that are prerequisites for enrollment into particular degree programmes of prestigious UK and international universities.

Students who do not come from schools that follow British curriculum frameworks but wish to enroll in Key Stage 5 may not have the entry requirements for A Level subjects. If this is the case, international schools like Rugby School Thailand offer the General Educational Development course or GED to help them attain the British education they desire.

A British education is one of the best investments you can make for your children’s future, so enroll them in [company_short]. To gain a better understanding of what our renowned institution has in store for your kids, contact us today.

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