What school to choose in Thailand

School in Thailand, how it looks and which to choose

Which school in Thailand to choose? Is a Thai school a good choice, or is it better to bet on homeschooling in Thailand? If you are planning an extended stay or moving to Thailand with your children then you need to research about education. In this article I introduce what options you have for your children's education abroad and describe how it goes.

At the time we planned our relocation to Thailand, only one of our children was coming slowly towards school age, so we were able to take a relaxed approach. We planned to stay in Thailand for a year, hence we initially considered really different options, from a Thai public school, to homeschooling and even a gap year. However, we eventually chose a British private school. In our case, this option gave us the most advantages in the long-term. If we returned to Poland after a year, the children could still enter a Polish school easily. On the other hand, with a longer stay abroad, after the British school, the children could have continued their education practically all over the world.

Studying abroad and compulsory education in your home country

Whatever path you choose for your children's education abroad, check and comply with the requirements in your own country regarding compulsory education (if there is such a requirement).

For example, in Poland, where I come from, there is compulsory education, therefore I have to notify the Polish school that my children study in Thailand. 

Preschools and schools in Thailand - available options

Foreigners have a very wide range of options for educating their children in Thailand, according to the budget you have. You can educate your children yourself, you can send them to a Thai school or to one of the many private schools. Schools in Thailand for foreigners are chargeable. I described how much preschool and school costs in Thailand in the article Cost of living in Thailand.

In general, the following schools fall under the educational system in Thailand:

  • Thai government schools
  • private schools
  • international schools 

Public school in Thailand

Education under the Thai system comprises the following stages: 

  • pre-school education for children aged 3-5 years, optional
  • compulsory* primary education (Pratom) for children aged 6, includes Pratom grades 1-6
  • secondary education (Mattayom) lasting 6 years and divided into Mattayom 1-3 (compulsory*) and optional Mattayom 4-6

*) Public schooling in Thailand includes 9 years of compulsory education for Thai citizens between the ages of 6 and 15. Children of foreigners are not covered by this obligation. 

The school year at a Thai public school consists of two terms and a holiday falling between March and mid-May. Teaching at the school is in Thai, with the exception of schools where a fee-based English curriculum has been introduced. 

Why we didn't send our children to a Thai school

For a brief moment a thought crossed our minds, what if we sent the children to a Thai school? While this option is financially preferable, we felt it was a bit of a loss of a year to learn mainly Thai if the children could learn English in the meantime. 

Ultimately, we made sure that this was not a good choice for our children when we delved deeper into the subject. If someone finds the traditional (e.g. Polish) education system harsh and rigid, they will find themselves even less so in the Thai education system.

The Thai school follows a programme Basic Education Core Curriculum B.E. 2551, according to which one of the educational goals is to build national unity and infuse Thai cultural values:

The ultimate aim is attainment of national unity; learning standards and goals are therefore set with a view to enabling the children and youths to acquire knowledge, skills, attitude and morality to serve as a foundation for Thai-ness and universal values”

What does this mean in practice in the case of a Thai public school? Daily assemblies at 8.00am, during which the hymn is sung and Buddhist prayers are chanted. Other challenges of Thai schooling include overcrowding in classrooms, discipline, low levels of English learning and underperforming in academic performance assessment tests.

Private and international schools in Thailand

You can really pick and choose in private schools in Thailand, with the widest choice obviously in Bangkok. There is a good selection of schools in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Rayong, Hua Hin, Phuket and on Koh Samui. However, private kindergartens and schools can also be found in other towns and islands. To search for schools, I recommend the website https://www.international-schools-database.com/country/thailand and https://www.edarabia.com/schools/thailand/.

When it comes to choosing a school for children in Thailand, you are really only limited by money, or possibly the waiting queue for admission. However, everyone should be able to find a school to suit their budget. The top international (IB) schools are the most expensive, with tuition fees of around THB 1 million per year per child.

What you need to know about private schools in Thailand

Although private and international (IB) schools operate on the basis of their own curriculum (education programme), they fall under the Thai ministry. As such, there are a few things you'd better know. Of course, this may look different at each school, so I am describing how it looks mainly at the institutions I know.

Learning Thai at school

Szkoła w Tajlandii, tajska szkoła
Thai letters on the wall of a Thai school on Sukhumvit Soi 8 in Bangkok

Schools in Thailand are obliged to teach Thai, but children of non-Thai nationality are usually given minimal amount of instruction. In the previous school it was just one hour a week, whereas in the current school the number of hours of Thai is around 4-5 hours. Children learn to write and read in Thai.

Thai school assistant teacher

Each class, or kindergarten group, has an assistant or two, coming from Thailand. The assistant does not have to speak English, but usually does. The role of the assistant teacher is to help the children and to assist the teacher in maintaining order. This provides a very pleasant learning environment.

In addition, it is the assistants who often teach the children Thai.

School uniforms in Thailand

Students in Thailand wear uniforms and it is no different in private schools. Each school has a specific uniform design that is purchased from the school. There is a different daily uniform and one for sports (PE) activities. 

Tajska szkoła, szkoła w Tajlandii
On the way to school

School footwear

In Thai public schools, it is a must for children to remove their shoes before entering the classroom, while in private schools it all depends on the regulations of the particular school. At our school, children also remove their shoes.

Tuition and fees at schools in Thailand

Education in Thailand for foreigners is fee-based. So when enrolling a child in school or kindergarten, there are always fees to be considered. Tuition fees are paid before each term. In addition to the tuition fees, many schools charge additional fees in the form of a non-refundable registration fee, which can be quite a large amount. Therefore, enrolling your child in school for a short time is not always worth it. 

Additionally, after-school activities, catering and possibly transport (school bus) are paid for. On the other hand, the children have all school materials free of charge.

School meals

Dining in Thai schools depends very much on the school. Some schools serve mainly Thai food, while others provide a menu with a choice of Western and Thai cuisine. 

In addition, the children get fruits every day and water to drink. You are allowed to bring your own food and drinks to school. Our children's school is quite specific when it comes to food and drinks. Children are not allowed to bring sweets, nuts and drinks other than water to school. Besides, every child should have a water bottle.

School calendar, public holidays and various events

Each school has its own school calendar according to the programme in place. Private institutions may have 2 or 3 terms with holidays in July-August and breaks between terms.  

Private schools in Thailand are multi-cultural, so it is natural that different holidays are celebrated, including, of course, Thai holidays:

  • Songkran, or Thai New Year, with children dressing up in Thai costumes and pouring water on them
  • Chinese New Year
  • Loy Krathong - children dress in Thai costumes, prepare colourful rafts and float them on the water

Besides this (it depends on the school), events and holidays such as:

  • Halloween
  • Valentine's Day
  • Sports Day
  • World Book Day
  • International Day
  • Christmas

What to look for when choosing a school in Thailand

Running a school in Thailand is at times a business like any other. Consequently, there is little regard in some schools for the educational background of the teachers they hire. You have probably heard more than once that in Thailand the easiest way to become a teacher (Work in Thailand, where and how to find). Unfortunately, this then reflects on the children taught by unqualified people.

Therefore, one of the most important things is to check whether the school is accredited and whether the teaching staff employed are qualified.

Nursery and kindergarten in Thailand

For kindergartens and nurseries at private schools, the rules are quite similar to those at schools. The differences are the possibility to enrol a child for half a day. There is also a choice of stand-alone facilities. As a rule, such kindergartens are less expensive.

Other types of school in Thailand

By other school option in Thailand I mean all those schools teaching in different languages (French, German, etc.) or any other than standard international schools.

For example, on the initiative of the parents themselves living in Bangkok, a Polish club was set up which operated roughly from 2019 to 2021. A group of committed Polish women, organised weekend meetings for Polish children. At the meetings, the children were able to learn the language and familiarise themselves with Polish traditions. Unfortunately, after the pandemic, the club remained only a pleasant memory.

Easter at the Polish club

Parents who want their children to be educated in schools with a mother tongue other than the mainstream language are left to look for such schools on their own or at their embassies.

Homeschooling in Thailand

Homeschooling is becoming quite a popular option, also in Thailand. However, I have not taken up the challenge due to lack of time and unwillingness to teach my own children.

Our choice, a public school with a British curriculum

Our children attended two schools in Thailand, both with a very similar curriculum based on the British Curriculum system. Both schools have good reviews and mid-range tuition fees. In Bangkok, it was a BSB

The school has a nursery, preschool and primary unit. We appreciated the school for its small classes and proven teaching staff, who introduced the children smoothly to a new environment and a new language. At our current school, we have the similar, plus the children spend a lot of time in the courtyard.

We will soon be facing the choice of secondary school and here we will rather look for a school with an IB programme.

Kindergarten and school in Thailand - a summary

There is no one correct way to choose your child's educational path in Thailand. You should always pick what suits you, taking into account your own capabilities, the length of your stay in Thailand, the resources you have and your plans for the future. 

From our five-year perspective, I can see how much exposure to a group of peers from all over the world does for development. If you can, it is really worth taking advantage of your stay in Thailand to learn English and even Thai. You don't necessarily have to do this at an international school, but given the opportunity, it would be a pity not to take advantage.

Do you find the blog content valuable? 

Buy me a coffee or give me a heads up by commenting or sharing. Your reaction will keep the blog going and make my writing even better!

Don't forget to follow my other feeds for more updates

Buy me a coffee so the blog can grow and provide more useful content

Latest photos and stories

Posts with updates

Vlogs documenting our travels

2 thoughts on “Szkoła w Tajlandii, jak wygląda i co wybrać”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top