Located in Rayong, Thailand, St. Andrews International School, Green Valley is 25 years old and one of the region’s most established. Over the period, the school has generated a fantastic reputation as a truly family-orientated school that values each member of the community. Charles Grayhurst, Head of St. Andrews International School, Green Valley, shares, “The very foundation of our school is geared towards a forward-thinking outlook, one which makes learning highly personalised, holistic, and eco-literate, to provide a bespoke education and prepare children to take their place within an ever-evolving world.” St. Andrews International School belongs to Cognita, one of the largest school groups in the world, which allows for sharing of knowledge and expertise across over 100 schools around the globe.
St. Andrews International School is the only eco-literate school on Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard that seeks to move beyond a simple ‘check box’ approach to environmentalism and promotes the outdoors within everything they do. Mr. Grayhurst says, “our ‘hands-on’ learning approach, as well as our status as the only PYP school within the region, has created a school that invigorates, inspires and contributes towards some of the highest IB Diploma scores within Thailand.” St. Andrews’ holistic vision also means that they value pastoral care and academic achievement. The school has received many well-being awards from the UK and elsewhere. In addition, it is only one of a few schools in Thailand to have been awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award and has become a beacon for excellence within education for sustainability.
Preparing students and teachers for the future
St. Andrews International School understands that the world is increasingly becoming a ‘global village,’ whereby their communities will need to think critically, solve problems collaboratively and act with innovation in response to global challenges. There is, therefore, an urgent requirement for schools to shift the purpose of their education to create not just well-qualified students but also young people who can appreciate the interconnectedness of natural and human systems and their place amongst them. To face these challenges successfully will be paramount in the years and decades to come, and it has been reflected within the admissions requirements of universities, who now look beyond simply academic grades. “Our world-class teachers are recruited from all around the world and are known for their experience, knowledge, and approach to education. With a minimum requirement of a Bachelor’s Degree, our teachers are also fully trained on the curriculums that we deliver and the philosophy that we live and breathe,” Mr. Grayhurst opines.
Parents are partners at St. Andrews, where they have an open-door policy and a thriving Parent Association. “The nature of our outdoor campus and location creates a very welcoming environment and fits well with our ethos. Notions of personalised learning ensure that each parent has formal and informal opportunities to work with teachers to target set and be involved in discussions surrounding a child’s progress – both academically and pastorally,” shares Mr. Grayhurst.
Delivering accessibility and effectiveness in education
The school campus is set within the truly stunning surroundings of the Thai countryside, taking advantage of this luxury as much as possible. Mr. Grayhurst adds, “the campus is our classroom, and children will regularly be seen studying our locale to reinforce our learning – whether through the plants and wildlife on the grounds or by interacting with our local community.” St. Andrews’ place-based education is supported by a range of campus facilities that embody their holistic approach, with extensive sports fields, a forest school, creative arts suites, music studios, a swimming pool, and numerous specialist gardens for children.
St. Andrews classes are designed to ensure personalized learning opportunities in each and every lesson. With class sizes ranging from 10 students up to 22, and student-to-teacher ratios from 4:1 up to 22:1, they can ensure that each child is known by name. Mr. Grayhurst shares, “our qualified team design individualized learning plans for each child and work hand-in-hand with students and their parents to achieve the students’ goals. A fully qualified SENCo leads a team of Learning Support Assistants and Teaching Assistants to support students with additional needs. Similarly, higher-ability students are also suitably challenged, with some even sitting their IGCSE exams one or two years early.” The school’s unique English Additional Language and English Immersion Programme also meet the needs of students with lower English ability, supporting them to integrate into the full curriculum and benefit from all an international school has to offer.
Encouraging innovation and creativity in students
At its core, the curriculum offered at St. Andrews is designed to ensure that children’s learning ‘breaks the mould.’ As an inquiry-based curriculum, students have ownership over the direction of the topic, allowing for in-depth learning that is no longer based on only one line of thought. Students are taught to ask questions, solve problems, communicate and innovate throughout, allowing each lesson’s outcome to be diverse and innovative. “No longer are we learning from the textbook as one might do in the British curriculum or similar; instead, we are learning through hands-on, project-based, and real-life scenarios. After all, we are preparing students to solve problems that don’t yet exist in job roles that we can only imagine,” Mr. Grayhurst adds.
Achievements so far
Students at St Andrew’s International School have consistently achieved top rankings globally within the IB and IGCSE curriculums, with their most recent accolades featuring a ‘Top in the World’ award and a 100% IB Diploma pass rate for the last 11 years. Perhaps even more important, though, is not only the academic results but the type of student that leaves the school after graduation – students who are successful within their areas of passion and also carry natural care for the world around them. These students are problem solvers, critical thinkers, and innovators. Mr. Grayhurst says, “a mere example is the Young Green Leader award, received in 2022 by an IB student who designed a remote reading program to supplement the limited reading opportunities for Myanmarese and refugees and migrants.”
The school holds the only Gold-status accreditation on Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard, awarded by the Educational Development Trust. In their recent pre-inspection evaluation, the school was rated ‘outstanding’ in all areas once again.
Mr. Grayhurst shares, “alongside our accreditation, the school also became the first school in Thailand to achieve the Wellbeing Award for Schools – a UK-accredited award that acknowledges the outstanding systems that operate within the school to ensure that students and the wider community feel safe and cared for.” During the award process, the inspection team acknowledged the school as the best example of well-being care among all applicants.
In 2022, St. Andrews became the 7th school in Thailand to achieve the internationally recognized WWF Green Flag Award. The projects that gained them this prestigious recognition were a student-designed solar-powered irrigation system and a farm-to-table growing project which feeds over 150 children.
Immediate plans of the institution
The school continues to grow from strength to strength, with a diverse community of over 35 nationalities growing by the day. “Recent developments include the expansion of our Forest School, refurbishment of the Music suites, Science Labs, and Early Years Learning Centre, as well as biodiversity planting throughout the campus. We look forward to further enhancing our outdoor learning opportunities as well as the development of a subsistence farm shortly,” Mr. Grayhurst concludes.
Charles Grayhurst, Head of St. Andrews International School
During twenty-five years of working in schools, Mr. Charles Grayhurst has served in multiple senior roles across Asia, including over a decade of Headship in China, Dubai, and Malaysia. Mr. Grayhurst has extensive experience in school leadership and management, which includes the establishment of ‘green’ schools and high levels of pastoral care within school communities. He has particular experience in Thailand and has worked for high-profile, premium education groups. He is exceptionally passionate about establishing high-performance cultures within caring, holistic environments and focusing on delivering eco-literate curricula.
Mr. Grayhurst is a father of three children, two of whom study at St. Andrews International School, Green Valley. He has a passion for music and maintains a home in Vietnam, which he travels to regularly with his family.