Schools in Phuket:
There are many western and half-western children growing up in Phuket. As their numbers increase, more and more western parents are searching for the best schooling options for their children. This search is often complicated by a lack of knowledge of the local school system and language barriers. Especially if the parents cannot afford one of the very good but also very expensive international schools on the island.
My own little boy has just started his first full year at school. If I were back in my home country, I would have happily sent him to the local government school. The schooling standards are generally good and I have never believed in private education. The situation in Phuket is a bit more complicated.
There are many things for parents to consider. What do they want for their child and what can they afford to pay? Is a Thai education from one of the government schools going to be good enough? What about English or bilingual education? Then there are the social considerations. How is their western or half-western child going to fit in at a Thai school? How important is it for their child to experience and pick up Thai social values? There are so many things for parents to consider and many more complications than if they were in their home country.
With my little boy approaching school age, it was time for us to research his schooling options. My little boy is three years old. This is the age that the Thai schooling system starts (the first three years are optional). I think this is much too early to worry about academic issues but the benefits of interacting with other children and adults at an early age are well documented.
Let's start with a quick look at nursery school options:
I would have liked to send my little boy to nursery school before this but there is no nursery in our area for the ages one to three. Phuket does not seem to be well served with nursery schools. I guess so many Thais work from home or have extended families who will take care of the children that there is no great demand.
The few nurseries schools that are around seem to be farang based. I know there are nurseries in Chalong, Rawai, Bang Tao and Kamala. All areas with a significant ex-pat population.
At this early age, we just wanted somewhere local where our little guy could play with other children. There was nowhere like this. I am sure this is a business opportunity waiting to be exploited.
Eventually we found the Withaya Sathit School on Komaraphat Road in Phuket Town. It is a private nursery & primary school that accepts children from the age of 2 years old. Our guy was already three and there was only one month of the school term remaining. Just the same, we were keen for him to spend some time at nursery school before starting proper school so we enrolled him.
I have to say I was impressed with the place. It is Thai run and mostly Thai children but also a few half-western kids. They charge around 10,000 baht a term. For our little guy to stay for just one month until the end of term they charged 2,500 baht. The staff were helpful and friendly from the start. Other schools we had visited had shown a total disinterest in doing anything mid-term and had told us to come back at the start of the school year.
The school has a nice friendly feel. The teachers are waiting to collect the children straight from the cars so there are no great traffic problems. The school day starts with the traditional Thai line-up and songs but they mix up the anthems with a few lively dance-along songs to keep it fun.
Then the nursery kids go and play. Toys, crayons, storybooks with the teacher, etc. Just what we wanted. Our little guy quickly got over the initial shock of spending the day away from home and enjoyed his month there. He even got a little bit of homework everyday. Just a picture to colour in, a join the dots or maybe a letter or number to overwrite.
The school has a swimming pool so the kids can have a play in the water once a week. They also have an English language program for the older children.
Generally, I was impressed with the whole set up. It is a good option for parents with pre-school kids in traveling distance of Phuket Town. However, the distance from our home meant I always saw this school as a stop-gap rather than a long-term choice for my little boy.
Recently, Darasamut have started a nursery class for two year olds. Kajon Kiet also have a nursery building around the back of the school where parents can drop their child for the day for 100 baht.
Nursery / Kindergarten/ Preschool
A few nursery schools in Phuket:
International Kindergarten - For children age 18 months to 6 years old. The school has specialist early child care teachers from Canada. They also have Thai teachers and Thai and Russian lessons are available on request. The school has spacious grounds located near Tesco Lotus (Chalong Circle).
Buds Phuket Nursery and Preschool - Catering to children between the ages of 18 months and 7 years. A bi-lingual English ad Thai school on Chao Fa East Road near h junction with Soi Palai.
Cravens International Preschool - An international nursery on Chao Fa West Road, not far from HomEPro Village
Withaya Sathit - A private Thai school on Komaraphat Road in Phuket Town with an English program. They accept children from ages 2 years to 10 years.
ABC Nursery - An international pre-school in the Nai Harn area on Soi Sai Yuan. They offer the International Primary Curriculum Early Years Program. They have been establised for 5 years and only employ fully qualified British teachers..
Thai Schools Part 2 - The School System - Our second article about schooling options in Phuket looks at how the Thai school system works.
Thai Schools Part 3- Choosing a School - Our third and final article about Phuket's schools looks at which are the best schools in Phuket for western or half-western children.