One of Buddha’s most famous sayings is ‘A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another’. The Teepsuwan’s are one such family in Thailand that share the same mindset and passion for education. They consider quality education as the principal booster for a country’s economy and general wellbeing. The family own a large plot of land in Chonburi, on which they (instead of the usual shopping complexes) have decided to develop a school. They wanted to establish a place of learning where children from around the world could come and participate in the give and take of knowledge. The family, appreciating the dynamic schooling followed in the UK, pitched the idea of a new international school to many of Britain’s top independent schools.
From those that were interested, Rugby School garnered the family’s undivided attention as they wanted to open their first-ever international branch, not as a franchise (which many school brands do), but as an extension of their school family, with shared values, systems, and even governors. Thus, in September 2017, Rugby School Thailand was born. Currently, the school offers various boarding options from Year 3 upwards. There is day boarding (1-2 nights a week), weekly boarding (4-5 nights per week), and full boarding (7 nights per week during term time). These options allow parents from near and far to choose what is best for their child – from the international full boarders who travel back to nearby countries for the holidays to the weekly boarders from Bangkok, younger day boarders looking to try for a couple of nights a week or local Sixth Form students who have decided they want to be prepared for university life ahead. The school even offers complimentary boarding trials for existing Prep and Senior students and prospective senior students from Year 8.
Ethos & Values
Rugby School Thailand, like its sister school Rugby UK, lives by the ethos: whole person, the whole point. This serves to educate all aspects of the individuals at the school, in mind, body, and spirit. This means that the students achieve academically, but are also encouraged to find passions, grow in sporting prowess, develop good morals, worldly values, community spirit, and resilience. This approach is supported by the school’s smaller classes and longer days, where sport and cocurricular activities are part of the timetable every day. The plethora of activities made available to the students ensures that the children are constantly exposed to new things – bushcraft, Chanbara, LEGO League, chess club, fun fitness, sailing, Eco Club, charity outreach, horse-riding, etc. The unveiling of the school’s huge new sports center in the coming weeks will further elevate its already world-class facilities. One of the strengths of an independent school system is that it can draw upon the best of the National Curriculum and supplement it with relevance.
“An obvious example of adaptation is in geography, where we can look at the physical and urban topics concerning the landscapes and cities around us. In other subjects, such as science, we can explore animal and plant species native to our local community. Many such links can be explored across the curriculum”, says Nigel Westlake, the Founding Headmaster. “Although knowledge of specific topics, whether these are local or not, requires the learning of concepts and ideas, skills refer to our ability to apply that knowledge to a particular context. The context will always be varied and often unfamiliar, and we ensure our pupils can transfer their knowledge and skills to a range of contexts. This helps them to succeed in an unknown future”. Nigel Westlake is the former headmaster of Packwood Haugh School and Brambletye School. With over 30-years of experience in the UK independent sector and 15 of those as a headmaster, Mr. Westlake moved to Thailand in 2015 to set up the school. Rugby School Thailand believes that it’s never too young to start shaping young minds for the excitements and challenges of the future, and its educational philosophies aim to make students masters in many areas. For the youngest years, this is done by instilling an early love of learning, engaging the children through play and sparking curiosity for the world around them.
Throughout the school there are inspiring spaces to learn like peaceful libraries, enticing reading corners, colourful playgrounds and a unique outdoor education centre here subject lessons are given a new spin. It isn’t long before digital tools are integrated into lessons within the Pre-Prep classes, and as pupils’ journey through Prep and Senior School this increases. The co-curricular activities and Saturday Enrichment Program both nurture the integration of young minds into the fourth industrial revolution, with classes in STEM, VEX robotics, D&T digital sketching, and computer coding, to name a few. The school has a tutor support program, where, for the latter years of education, individual tutors help students maintain focus for goals within the school and beyond. This includes a detailed approach to career ambitions and tailored university preparation. Personal development continues within the Community Action Program (CAP) which focuses on charity enterprises and giving back to the local community.
Following a house system, wherein students from Year 3 and upwards become part of a ‘division’ (Prep)or ‘house’ (Senior), children represent their team body in school activities; they collect divisional or house points and strive to become the most successful team each term/year. This teaches the joy and importance of collective efforts, resilience and a gracious competitive spirit. When it comes to acquiring teachers, unlike many international schools, Rugby School Thailand looks for teachers who are not hopping from one international establishment to the next – but teachers who want to join the community with more permanence. Often these are families who want to put down roots for a few years, which means the teaching staff is committed and more consistent than most. The school offers CPD courses every year, to ensure that the faculty team is always on top of their game.
Restlessness, Reflection & Rigour
To attain excellence in all facets of life, Rugby School Thailand refers to the 3Rs, namely ‘Restlessness’ (a restless desire for knowledge), ‘Reflection’ (to be able to reflect to develop further) and ‘Rigour’ (a rigorous determination to achieve one’s best). It is worth noting that the teaching faculty, along with the students, follow the 3Rs. A testament to the efficaciousness of the pedagogy followed at the school is that – in the short time the school has been operational – students have won Cambridge Outstanding Learner Awards, taken part in several national sporting events (such as bagging the first place at the 2019 golf tournament organized by the Thailand Golf Association), obtained ‘distinctions’ in music exams, and the first Sixth Form cohort is receiving offers from top global universities. An important aspect of school life is also fostering relationships with local industry.
The school has partnered with the Wat Koh School in Rayong, it has organized talks and workshops from touring companies, invited charities such as Hand-to-Hand to bring underprivileged children into experience the school, created a local playgroup called Rugby Rascals (where babies and toddlers play, while parents network) and participated in the Eco Beasts initiative created by St. Andrews Bangkok. There is a deep-rooted passion for environmentalism in this school, with solar panels in several areas to generate power and the likes of kitchen gardens to teach children about sustainability. This is not just another international school; it is a school that aspires to offer the most dynamic education in Asia. No wonder that Rugby School Thailand is one of the fastest-growing international schools in Thailand.